The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office filed a complaint today in Wyoming federal district court asking the court to set aside recently finalized federal regulations related to hydraulic fracturing on federal and public lands. Wyoming’s complaint requests the court set aside regulations the United States Department of the Interior announced last Friday, the same relief sought in a complaint that BakerHostetler previously filed in the same court on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (“IPAA”) and Western Energy Alliance. Wyoming becomes the first state to challenge the rule. A copy of Wyoming’s Complaint is available here.
According to the Bureau of Land Management’s Public Land Statistics, more than 1,000 permits were approved on federal oil and gas leases located within Wyoming during each of the last two fiscal years for which data is available. At the conclusion of Fiscal Year 2013, Wyoming had more than 4 million federal acres designated as being in producing status. Wyoming leads the nation in both categories. Wyoming is also a leader in regulating oil and gas development. During recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell praised Wyoming’s hydraulic fracturing regulations, acknowledging that “Wyoming has done a very good job in providing regulations that are forward thinking.”According to the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, Wyoming’s petroleum industry contributed almost $2 billion in tax and royalty revenues to state and local governments in fiscal year 2013. “Wyoming’s interest in this lawsuit is obvious,” stated BakerHostetler attorney Mark Barron, part of the legal team representing IPAA in independent producers’ analogous challenge to the Interior Department’s new rules. Barron continued: “The State’s leadership in regulating oil and gas development, and particularly the process of hydraulic fracturing, disproves the myth of the regulatory gap upon which Interior’s final rule is premised. Wyoming’s willingness to fight these regulations in federal court is evidence of the extent to which Interior’s action represents regulatory overreach and an untenable infringement on state sovereignty.”