The state of North Dakota moved to intervene yesterday in the state of Wyoming’s challenge to the Bureau of Land Management’s new hydraulic fracturing regulations. North Dakota—like Wyoming—asserts that the hydraulic fracturing regulations exceed the BLM’s statutory authority and contradict existing federal law—impermissibly encroaching on the states’ regulatory authority.
North Dakota becomes the second state to request that the BLM’s hydraulic fracturing regulations be set aside, echoing the relief that BakerHostetler requested on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Western Energy Alliance two weeks ago.
North Dakota’s interest in the suit is clear: Oil production in the state reached almost 400 million barrels in 2014—the second most productive, behind Texas, and nearly double that of third-place California. According to Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, roughly 38 percent of that oil is produced on Indian and federal lands, equating to 152 million barrels, enough production that North Dakota’s Indian and federal lands together would rank as the fifth most productive state.
In North Dakota—like Wyoming—the oil and gas industry produces significant tax revenues. Indeed, North Dakota’s oil and gas tax revenues accounted for 54 percent of the state’s 2014 tax collections—$3.25 billion—according to the North Dakota Petroleum Council.
North Dakota’s challenge to the BLM’s new regulations represents a building trend of state pushback to federal encroachment into state sovereignty over hydraulic fracturing regulation. In the coming weeks, states with existing hydraulic fracturing regulations and significant amounts of federal and Indian lands may follow Wyoming’s and North Dakota’s lead.