By Briana Mordick, Natural Resources Defense Council
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is proposing to roll back rules for fracking on federal land, in yet another example of the Trump administration’s efforts to wipe out safeguards protecting the environment and human health from fossil fuel development.
The BLM fracking rules were finalized in 2015 after an extensive five-year drafting process, including multiple comment periods and public hearings. The rules are modest, but offer some important basic protections to ensure that wells have integrity, wastewater is properly managed, and chemicals used in fracking are disclosed to the public.
BLM claims that it wants to roll back the rules because they’re duplicative of state rules, but even their own analysis shows this isn’t true. Each state’s regulations have areas where they are weaker than the BLM rule, and no state consistently meets best practices.
Prior to the 2015 rules, BLM didn’t have any regulations specific to fracking, and its regulations for things like well integrity hadn’t been updated in over 30 years. That’s why we and our partners submitted comments asking BLM to strengthen the rules instead of repealing them. Going back to the outdated, inadequate rules of the past is not an option. We’ll fight this rollback of commonsense protections at every step to ensure that our public lands are protected for all Americans.