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The BLM wants to nix fracking rule on water pollution

The agency says the regulation ‘imposes unjustified costs’ on oil and gas industry.

 

This article was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The Trump administration has proposed scrapping an Obama-era rule that aimed to ensure fracking for oil and gas does not pollute water supplies.

The Bureau of Land Management, which is part of the Department of Interior, said on Tuesday that it is moving to scrap the 2015 regulation because it duplicates state rules and “imposes burdensome reporting requirements and other unjustified costs” on the oil and gas industry.

The rule requires that fracking operations on public land are properly constructed so that pollutants do not leak into water supplies. Companies are also obliged to publicly disclose the chemicals in fluids used in fracking, which is a drilling process used to release oil and gas deposits within rock formations.

Oil and gas fields in the Pinedale, Wyoming anticline.

Despite being finalized two years ago, the fracking rule has never come into force due to a series of court challenges from the fossil fuel industry and several states. The BLM had initially defended the rule but following Donald Trump’s entrance to the White House the agency is now proposing to scrap it.

According to the BLM, the rule would cost the oil and gas industry at least $32 million a year and would be unnecessary as companies are already doing what the regulation requires “either to comply with state law or voluntarily.”

An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency last year found that fracking wastewater has “impacted the quality of groundwater and surface water resources in some instances” in the US but that there remains uncertainty over the full consequences due to a lack of information.

The fracking regulation was one of several rules explicitly targeted by Trump in an executive order he signed in March.

The administration has moved aggressively to roll back various environmental safeguards such as curbs on the leaking of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and the dumping of waste from mining operations into streams.