Federal judge blocks Obama fracking regulations

In this file photo, a rig drills for natural gas at a hydraulic fracturing site, knaon as fracking, located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Washington Township, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Output from shale deposits including the Marcellus has surged 10-fold since 2005 to account for a third of the countrys gas production, government data show. The increase in production is bringing development to an economically depressed region that lies atop the Marcellus shale, a rock formation that produces more natural gas than Saudi Arabia. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge has blocked and effort by the Obama administration to regulate fracking.

Judge Scott Skavdahl of the U.S. District Court of Wyoming ruled Wednesday that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cannot institute its new fracking rule until lawsuits against it are settled.

 In a 53-page opinion, Skavdahl cast doubt on the federal government’s ability to issue the rule. He issued the injunction because he decided the states and industry groups suing against the rule proved it would harm their operations and that their lawsuit is likely to succeed on its merits.

In his opinion, Skadvahl said he doesn’t think the Interior Department has the right to regulate fracking on federal land because Congress had, at one point, taken that power away from another agency.

“One of the fundamental questions presented in this case is whether Congress granted or delegated to the BLM the authority or jurisdiction to regulate fracking – despite having specifically removed such authority in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 from another federal agency [the Environmental Protection Agency],” he wrote.

“At this point, the Court does not believe Congress has granted or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate fracking … It is hard to analytically conclude or infer that, having expressly removed the regulatory authority from the EPA, Congress intended to vest it in the BLM, particularly where the BLM had not previously been regulating the practice.”

This is a good thing and Judge Skavdahl’s reasoning is sound. It beggars the imagination to think that Congress specifically withdrew the power to regulate fracking from the EPA and was totally fine with the freakin’ Bureau of Land Managment taking it on.

Fracking is safe but on the science-y left it remains a boogey man along with GMO crops. And Obama is all about satisfying the Luddite urges of his hipster and aging hippie base.

The science is settled, as the climate change supporters like to say.  Only this time, science confirms the safety of hydraulic fracturing.  According to a new study published by the National Academy of Sciences, fracking is safe.  End of discussion.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and Duke University, a team of scientists at Ohio State and other universities conducted extensive research into the purported link between groundwater pollution and fracking.  (The full title of the report, available online, is “Noble Gases Identify the Mechanisms of Fugitive Gas Contamination in Drinking-Water Wells Overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales.”)  In an examination of 130 wells, the researchers found that, when properly conducted, no groundwater or aquifer pollution resulted from the practice of fracking itself.

Among the 130 wells studied, the researchers found only a subset of cases, including seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas, in which faulty well construction or cementing was to blame for the seepage of gases into groundwater.  According to Professor Avner Bengosh of Duke University, “[t]hese results appear to rule out the migration of methane up into drinking water aquifers from depth because of horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.”  That is to say, in the rare cases where it occurs, gases are entering the water supply from outside the borehead as a result of faulty well construction or poor cementing, both of which are manageable problems.

The regulation of fracking was just another example of how Obama flouts the law and the intent of the law to pursue his policy aims.

When you watch the activities of the Obama administration there are two overarching themes. The first is a hostility to individual rights. In the Obama world view we are all part of some kind of collective consciousness, a hive, if you will, dominated by one central will: Obama. He has carried on an active fight against free speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms. His administration is considered even by liberal ‘good government’ groups to be the most secretive in the history of the nation. The second theme is a hostile to economic independence. Under Obama the economy has been trashed. Unemployment numbers are only kept low by forcing people out of the work force. Young people really have little hope of finding decent jobs. BUT… we have plenty of programs to dole out federal benefits. The attack on coal and fracking dovetail nicely into the latter theme. Both create cheaper energy (which helps the 99%) and good paying jobs. You can’t have that if you want the nation suckling at the federal teat in order to survive.

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