In 2017, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) repealed an Obama-era rule that tightens environmental regulations for fracking on public lands. We filed an amicus brief in the Northern District of California detailing BLM’s irrational analysis of the repeal, which erases the rule’s significant net benefits and flouts longstanding standard practices. We later filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit.
BLM attempts to justify its repeal of valuable regulatory protections by disregarding important impacts. While every respected guide on cost-benefit analysis confirms that unquantified effects demand due consideration, BLM incorrectly treats the rule’s unquantified environmental, health, and safety benefits as less certain and less significant than quantified effects. The agency also insists that rolling back the protections forgoes minimal benefits because state regulations and voluntary compliance will substitute for the repealed federal standards. But that contradicts its own predictions of cost savings from the repeal, which are based on assumptions of decreased compliance. BLM’s analysis repeatedly flunks standards for regulatory analysis and should be vacated as arbitrary and capricious.