Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl reportedly issued a stay of Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) rules regarding hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian lands.

A copy of the rules can be found here: http://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/wo/Communications_Directorate/public_affairs/news_release_attachments.Par.6134.File.dat/HF-Final-Agency-Draft.pdf

The fracturing rules were announced in March and were slated to take effect today, June 24, 2015.

Judge Skavdahl’s decision stemmed from challenges originating on two (2) fronts: one from several states, including, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, challenging the BLM’s authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing and asserting that the federal agency does not have the power to regulate in this area, and the other from industry groups also challenging the process the BLM followed in issuing the fracking regulation.

The BLM hydraulic fracturing rules were aimed to update and supplement the old regulations that were almost as old as I am and predated the common use of hydraulic fracturing technology. The goal was to create “a consistent, predictable, regulatory framework, in accordance with the BLM’s stewardship responsibilities for hydraulic fracturing.”  The efforts are being challenged to the extent they duplicate state-level efforts at regulating oil and gas operations.

Time will tell. The stay will temporarily halt the new federal rules concerning hydraulic fracturing on public lands from taking effect and the delay reportedly moves the date to early August, at the earliest.