In May 2012, the BLM proposed a rule regulating hydraulic fracturing on public lands. After receiving comments, the BLM issued a revised proposed rule in May 2013, and the comment period closed in August. The BLM has not yet issued a final rule. Meanwhile, in November, the House passed H.R. 2728, which would block federal regulation on federal and Indian lands in states that already have their own fracking regulations. On the same day, the House also passed H.R. 1965, which would expand oil and natural gas permitting on public lands. It seems unlikely that the Senate will pass either bill, and the Obama administration has indicated it will veto the bills should they reach the President's desk (http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legisl ative/sap/113/saphr2728h_20131119.pdf and http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legisl ative/sap/113/saphr1965h_20131119.pdf).

In mid-2012, the Department of the Interior was also considering raising onshore royalty rates from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent for oil production on new federal competitive leases (while leaving the royalty rate for onshore gas production unchanged at 12.5 percent). But, last month the GAO reported that the Interior has "…discontinued its efforts to pursue the revised regulations because, according to Interior officials, the department does not have enough information to determine how to adjust onshore royalty rates…" Furthermore, according to the report, the Department had “higher priority rulemaking initiatives, such as regulations for hydraulic fracturing and revisions to its oil and gas measurement regulations, precede it and that limited resources constrain their ability to meet program demands.” Nevertheless, this issue may not be over. The Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change (a group of lawmakers headed by Representative Henry Waxman, D-CA, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI) also issued a report last month criticizing Interior's policies and suggesting, among other things, that they effectively subsidize fossil- fuel development on public lands."