U.S. Tenth Circuit - The FindLaw 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Tenth Circuit Dismisses Fracking Appeals

Fracking, for all its attention-getting repercussions, is not getting any more attention from a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed consolidated fracking appeals that included more parties and amici than judges in the four-state circuit.

In State of Wyoming v. Zinke, the appeals panel said the cases were "prudentially unripe" because a disputed federal fracking regulation is being rescinded.

"Well Stimulation"

Fracking is a "well stimulation" technique that is used to extract more oil and natural gas than otherwise possible. Oil and gas producers inject water, sand and chemicals into tight rock formations to allow oil and gas to escape.

The practice has caused public concern over potential groundwater contamination and other issues, including the possibility that fracking contributes to earthquakes.

In Oklahoma, for example, seven earthquakes recently struck in 28 hours. Scientists have said the quakes are linked to fracking.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management published a Fracking Regulation, which attempted to regulate the practice. Because of costs imposed by the regulation, oil industry organizations sued, followed by Wyoming, Colorado, and Native American tribes.

Regulation Rescinded

A federal judge set aside the fracking regulation, concluding that the BLM exceeded its authority. The judge also said that it contravened laws that protect safe drinking water.

Pending the appeals, the BLM asked the 10th Circuit to hold off because the President had ordered a review of the regulation. In March, the Secretary of the Interior said the rule was being rescinded.

Under the circumstances, the appeals court sent the case back to the district court with orders to dismiss.

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