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BLM Regulations

BLM released the final rule to regulate HF on federal and tribal lands on March 20.  The rule was published in the Federal Register on March 26.  Two industry groups, the states of Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado and Utah, and the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation are part of a consolidated lawsuit to block the regulations.  Several environmental groups have also intervened in this lawsuit on behalf of BLM.  On June 23, in response to motions for a preliminary junction, the court stayed the effectiveness of the BLM rule pending additional briefing on the issues.  This stay is understood to apply nationwide.  BLM filed the administrative record for the rule on August 27.  On September 4, the court issued an extension for the parties until September 18 to supplement their briefs with citations to the record.  The court could issue its ruling on the preliminary injunction motions two weeks thereafter.  If the preliminary injunction is denied, then BLM will be able to decide whether to have the rule go into effect or continue to stay the rule’s effectiveness until the final ruling in the case.  If the preliminary injunction is granted, the stay will remain in effect until the court issues a final decision in the case.  Meanwhile, the Southern Ute tribe filed its own challenge to the rule in mid-June arguing that the rule conflicts with acts of Congress that give tribes the authority to establish the terms and conditions of oil and gas operations on tribal land and the variance process does not sufficiently address this issue; oral argument is set for October.  Based on the timeline previously established by the court, if the stay is lifted, the earliest the rule could go into effect is on or about October 2.