Conservation News

NPS Proposes New Fracking Rules

Following BLM court defeat

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A month after a federal judge delayed the Bureau of Land Management’s effort to regulate fracking on public and tribal lands.the National Park Service is making its own attempt to put limits on the controversial procedure.

Fracking, a controversial process of drilling into the earth for oil and gas, is generally prohibited in national parks, but NPS says it’s still clearly visible within some parts of various parks.

New rules could implement changes that will affect the fossil fuel industry outside of park boundaries, and will be published in the Federal Register later this year.

Although the rules aren’t yet fully outlined, NPS issued a press release summing up their propositions on Oct. 16.

According to the press release, “Currently, there are oil and gas operations in 12 of the 408 parks in the National Park System, and about 60 percent of those operations are exempt from NPS regulations. The proposed rule would apply NPS regulations to operations that are currently exempt and any future oil and gas operations in the National Park System.”

A 2013 NPS impact report called “National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing” cites fracking’s visual impacts within the parks, as well as environmental concerns. Among the cited concerns are the visibility of oil rigs in parts of Glacier National Park and heavy traffic increasing in areas servicing wells.

On Sept. 30, BLM’s proposal to introduce new standards for fracking on public lands was blocked by a federal judge in Wyoming, who claimed that BLM “lacks the authority to issue rules on oil gas operations.”

This delay and possible reversal of BLM’s rules will likely make it difficult for NPS to succeed in their efforts to execute authority over fracking in or outside of park boundaries.