Proposed Rule
Proposed on July 25, 2017

Policy Summary

On July 25, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management published a rescission of an Obama-era hydraulic fracturing rule. The “fracking” rule was specifically targeted by Trump’s Energy Executive Order, which directed agency heads to eliminate all policies which burden the development of energy resources. The regulation, released in March of 2015, was stayed in court last summer after being challenged by the oil and gas industry. The rescission was released just three days before the rule was set to have oral arguments read in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. While the original rule was intended to protect water and to ensure safety measures were enforced, the BLM has argued that “it is unnecessarily duplicative of state and some tribal regulations and imposes burdensome reporting requirements and other unjustified costs on the oil and gas industry.” The rescission would revert regulations for fracking to rules written over 30 years ago.


The original rule passed during the Obama administration only covers drilling on federal and tribal lands, a small percentage of total drilling operations, but it was intended to give state legislatures a foundation with which to create their own regulations. If enforced, the rule would “allow government workers to inspect and validate the safety and integrity of the concrete barriers that line fracking wells” and would “require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in the fracturing process within 30 days of completing fracking operations.” The rule was created to protect clean water sources in response to the fracking technique, “which involves injecting a cocktail of chemicals deep underground to break up the rocks around oil and gas deposits.“ While the Bureau argues that the rules are duplicative, staff members have reported that “they do not perform onsite inspections of hydraulic fracturing operations because ‘the work is too dangerous’ under existing rules.”

Engagement Resources

  • Comment on the proposed rescission by mail or online by September 25th
  • Sierra Club – the nation’s largest environmental preservation organization; focuses include mitigating global warming and opposing coal; suing the Trump administration over this EO.
  • Earthjustice – a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to environmental issues. Currently appealing the 2016 ruling in which the fracking rule was struck down.

This brief was compiled by Conor Downey. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact



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