September 28, 2017

Everyone knows there’s big money in black gold (oil) and companies’ eager to get at this natural resource don’t take too kindly to the roadblocks they hit along the way. In this particular case (State of Wyoming et al v. Jewell et al [No. 16-8068]), a federal judge in Wyoming is getting a little bit of push back from the federal government as well as some legal professors about one of his controversial rulings blocking federal rules surrounding hydraulic fracturing on government ground.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) disclosed rules in 2015 that mandated that drilling companies disclose the materials they inject into the ground to free up oil and gas. The rules were put together as a result of public concern that fracking could pollute or contaminate underground water.

Details and Claims Concerning the Wyoming Federal Judge’s Controversial Ruling

Feds Torn on Ruling Barring BLM from Regulating Fracking | Denver Business Attorney

Feds Torn on Ruling Barring BLM from Regulating Fracking | Denver Business Attorney

The following details and claims were gathered from local news reports:1

  • U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl of Casper made a ruling in June that BLM doesn’t have the authority to regulate fracking.
  • The BLM claims it was acting in the public’s best interest.
  • Obama’s administration filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver arguing that the BLM has the rightful authority to regulate fracking.
  • In Judge Skavdahl’s ruling he referenced Florida State University law professor Hannah Wiseman’s article supporting his conclusion that Congress stopped federal regulation fracking in 2005.
  • Nearly 40 law professors, including Wiseman, say they disagree with Judge Skavdahl’s interpretation of the article.
  • Petroleum Association of Wyoming Vice President John Tobitaille issued a statement saying the state already regulates the oil and gas producers

What is Next for Wyoming’s Fracking Regulation Ruling?

Many legal pundits thought that since Obama personally filed a brief, along with that of a large number of reputable law professors, that it would have ensured an overturning of the ruling. However, new developments could redirect the ruling, including:2

  • Several former U.S. Department of the Interior officials — both Republicans and Democrats — have told the 10th Circuit that it should decide whether the BLM was within it’s jurisdiction to issue a rule imposing restrictions on fracking on tribal and federal lands.
  • In May, the BLM asked the 10th Circuit Court to hold in abeyance litigation concerning the fracking rule matter, while also defending right to announce its own regulation.
  • Lastly, if the court holds the matter in abeyance, the BLM plans to rewrite Obama regulations to better adhere to the Trump administration’s policies. Some legal experts believe rewriting the regulations will lead to limiting the BLM’s authority to regulate oil and gas practices.

Contact a Denver Business Attorney at Downey & Associates, PC

Has your corporation or industry been hindered by a wrongful court ruling? If so, contact Denver Business Attorney Thomas E. Downey. Since 1983, Thomas Downey and his legal team at Downey & Associates, PC, have aggressively sought justice for all kinds of business-related matters, including contract negotiations, workplace accidents, and corporate conflicts.

Our Denver business attorney is experience handling complex corporate matters and un-judicious court rulings. We are up to the challenge of filing court appeals and fighting out long-drawn courtroom battles to achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Why wait, call our Denver business attorney today to find out how we can assist you at (303) 813-1111 or by emailing him using the contact form on this page.

From our law offices in Englewood, we service clients in Colorado as well as throughout the U.S.


1“Feds, law professors say judge wrong to block fracking rules” published in The Denver Post, August 2016.

2“Former DOI Honchos Urge 10th Circ. To Hear Frack Rule Case” published in 360 Law, June 2017.

Categories: Contract Disputes, Development Plans and Building Permits, Federal and State Rules and Regulations, Govt. Contracts, Real Estate Law