4 States' Attorneys General Dispute Federal Fracking Rules

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said Thursday that Montana is joining Alabama, Alaska, and Oklahoma in protesting Bureau of Land Management plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal land.

Fox said he and the attorneys general from those states sent a letter last week to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell expressing "serious concerns" and "strong objection" to the proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing. Also known as fracking, the technique boosts production from oil and gas wells by pumping pressurized water into the wells to fracture open deposits.

The attorneys general argue that BLM fracking rules will duplicate existing state programs and cannot be justified.

"These states, including Montana, already have well trained staff who regulate fracking operations and issue permits," Fox said in a news release. "This is another example of the federal government trying to complicate the way states self-regulate in ways that work best for them, and could impede the development of oil and gas within their borders."

The attorneys general argue that court decisions have granted such regulatory powers to the states.

"Beyond the fundamental question of who is better equipped to provide the best regulations, in light of the fiscal realities we face, and in view of current and future budget constraints, the BLM should partner with the states to the greatest extent possible, to leverage the existing state programs, resources and infrastructure," the letter says.

Jewell has said federal rules are needed to reconcile a patchwork of state fracking rules. The proposed rules would establish standards for the wells and a way for companies to disclose the chemical ingredients in fracking fluids.

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