Wyoming v. United States DOI

Wyoming v. United States DOI, United States District Court for Wyoming, June 21, 2016, 2016 U. S. Dist. LEXIS 82132.

The Bureau of Land Management lacked the congressional authority to issue regulations applying to hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands.

The BLM issued, in March of 2015, the Fracking Rule that primarily dealt with well construction, chemical disclosure and water management for wells drilled on federal or Indian lands. The trial court granted a temporary injunction preventing the implementation of the Fracking Rule. The court recognized that hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 60 years and has been used on shale since the 1970s.

The court stated that a precondition to agency deference depended on a finding that Congress had delegated the authority to the agency to promulgate the regulation at issue. The BLM argued that the statutes granting its authority implied the power to implement the Fracking Rule, even though such authority was not specifically granted by any of the statutes. The court held that any such implied authority must give way to specific Congressional intent and that when Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005, it specifically excluded from the authority delegated to the EPA, the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Therefore, Congress spoke on the subject and the general authority cited by the BLM was insufficient to overcome this specific Congressional action.