Environmentalist groups attempt to join government in federal drilling rules lawsuit

June 4, 2015

A new set of rules would require companies drilling on federal land to report the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing . The rules, announced last March, were followed by two federal lawsuits being filed against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The suits claim that states like Wyoming and Colorado already have strong rules regulating the drilling of oil and gas, and that the new federal rules would be redundant and a waste of time and resources. 

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" as it's more commonly called, refers to the relatively new process of high-pressure pumping a water, sand, and chemical mixture into oil wells to force open deposits and better facilitate the flow of oil and gas.

One of the main concerns with fracking is that methane gas and other chemicals can leach out from well and contaminate local groundwater sources. Drinking water wells near fracking sites have been found to have up to 17 times the amount of methane contained in normal wells. 

Six environmental groups: Conservation Colorado Education Fund, Earthworks, the Sierra Club, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Western Resource Advocates, and the Wilderness Society are attempting to join the federal government in defending against both suits.

According to Michael Freeman, an attorney representing the groups, "Our public lands belong to all Americans. They should be managed under strong national standards that protect our water, land and wildlife, not just to benefit oil and gas companies."

Environmental consultants can help companies in a variety of industries understand and comply with reporting regulations for federal and state agencies.