Southern Ute Indian Tribe Files Challenge to BLM’s Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

Here is the complaint in Southern Ute Indian Tribe v. Dept. of Interior (D. Colo.):

1 Complaint

From the tribe’s press release:

Ignacio, Colorado: The Southern Ute Indian Tribe filed suit yesterday in the United States District Court in Denver against the Department of the Interior challenging the Department’s new hydraulic fracturing rule for federal and Indian lands. The suit alleges that the rule conflicts with the Indian Mineral Leasing Act (IMLA) and asks the court to vacate those parts of the rule that violate the IMLA and frustrate the Tribe’s authority over its own lands. “The Tribe values the Reservation environment, but the BLM was overreaching when it enacted this rule for tribal lands. Tribal lands should be treated differently than federal lands,” said Clement J. Frost, the Tribe’s Chairman. “Some of the provisions in this new rule are just burdensome regulations that are not tied to an environmental benefit. This rule is one more regulatory burden that delays energy development on the Reservation and these delays have a very real effect on the Tribe’s ability to provide services and benefits to the tribal membership,” he said.

Tribes are currently authorized by federal regulation to supersede the Secretary’s regulations governing lease operations, and the Tribe has passed its own Hydraulic Fracturing and Chemical Disclosure Regulations. “The BLM’s new rule did not strike the right balance. We can do better,” said Chairman Frost. Bob Zahradnik, Operating Director of the Southern Ute Growth Fund, explained that the Tribe’s regulations vary from the new federal regulations in two important ways: “The Tribe’s regulations provide more protection for aquifers with less bureaucratic morass. It’s a win-win. Our regulations are compatible with Colorado’s regulations, and they also avoid the pre-approval delays that will be caused by BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule. Those delays put the Tribe in a bad position relative to adjacent fee landowners. If it is too burdensome to do business on tribal lands, operators just take their business elsewhere.”

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