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Fracking has proved an increasingly popular and controversial practice in the American quest for energy independence. Image courtesy of Les Stone, Corbis (via The Guardian).

A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit over the validity of an Obama-era regulation on hydraulic fracking.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that the suit is unnecessary, considering that the Trump administration is actively working to repeal the rule.

According to The Hill, the court also vacated a lower court order, which indicated the Bureau of Land Management had acted outside its authority in trying to regulate fracking.

“Our proceeding to address whether the District Court erred in invalidating the BLM’s fracking regulation when the BLM has now commenced rescinding that same regulation appears to be a very wasteful use of limited judicial resources,” read the court’s ruling.

The Hill posits the ruling as a victory for environmentalists, as the district court’s decision would have made writing new regulations for fracking significantly more difficult.

A graph from Energy Tomorrow showing the explosive growth of fracking in the United States.

The rule was intended to limit and regulate fracking practices on federal land, which garnered significant support from some liberals as well as an environmental activists. However, the regulation was opposed by private drillers as well as the governments of some Western states, which said applying the rule would have been costly and created duplicative guidelines.

While the Obama administration had appealed the district court’s decision, lawyers for the Justice Department on Trump said they’d rather see the rule repealed than bother fighting against its disposal.

The Bureau of Land Management formally proposed repealing the regulation in July.

“The BLM is now proposing to rescind the 2015 final rule because we believe 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,” read a pre-publication copy of the BLM’s Federal Register notice, put out in July. “This proposed rule would return the affected sections of the Code of Federal Regulations to the language that existed immediately before the published effective date of the 2015 final rule.”

The announcement by the BLM was praised by some Republican lawmakers, who derided the Obama-era regulation as an ‘unnecessary’ ‘job-killer.’

“Taking this job-killing federal regulatory overreach off the books is an important step,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) in July.

Bishop had taken a leading rule in trying to persuade federal courts that the Bureau of Land Management does not have the power to regulate fracking on federal lands.

Hydraulic fracking has helped the United States become a global energy powerhouse, but has been criticized by environmentalists for its purported ill-effects.

Many of the dangers of fracking have been contested or debunked, but a strong corps of activists remain staunchly opposed to the practice.

Sources

Appeals court throws out case on Obama fracking rule, citing Trump repeal effort

Court dismisses lawsuit over Obama-era fracking rule

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