Utah will seek to join three other states in lawsuit to protect the state’s authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing

SALT LAKE CITY (May 18, 2015) – Utah will seek to join three other energy-rich states in a lawsuit challenging the proposed fracking rule recently issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Gov. Gary R. Herbert made the announcement this afternoon during remarks at the annual business meeting of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a group he chairs.

“There is no question the practice of hydraulic fracturing should be regulated in order to ensure protection of the environment,” said Gov. Herbert. “However, adoption of the proposed rule would create an inconsistent, costly and inefficient regulatory system that provides no additional environmental protection or public safety than is offered by programs already enforced by the state.”

Utah will move to join Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado in a lawsuit challenging the rule because it unlawfully interferes with state regulations that already address the process. The suit also contends the rule is unnecessary and duplicative, and will result in a reduction in energy production on federal and tribal lands without any demonstrable environmental or administrative benefits.

“Utah has a strong regulatory system in place for oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing,” said Gov. Herbert. “So far, there have been no instances of environmental damage in Utah related to the integrity of a well undergoing a hydraulic fracturing operation. This is yet another unfortunate example of federal regulatory overreach. The only thing this rule will achieve is more red-tape, more delays, fewer jobs, and less revenue for both Utah and the federal treasury.”

Most of the federal and tribal lands on which the BLM has jurisdiction and where the new federal rule will apply are located in states that have been effectively regulating oil and natural gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing, for decades. Western states believe that due to the broad differences in geology, hydrology and topography across the West, the states – and not the federal government – are best equipped to design, administer and enforce laws and regulations related to oil and gas development.

The alleged benefits of the new BLM rule are questionable while the estimated costs of are significant. This new federal rule is likely to add years to the permitting process and hamper the drilling of thousands of wells in Utah. According to some estimates, the fracking rule could cost as much as $97,000 to $253,000 per well. Cumulatively, it could cost Utah between $75-$243 million dollars per year.