Although new federal government rules introduced on March 20, 2015, about hydraulic fracking on federal lands may not make major changes, their impact could be enough to convince oil and gas producers to look for other locations.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance have filed suit to block these rules from taking effect.

Although the new rules are not as drastic as what was expected by the industry—and still allow some chemicals used in the fracking process to be considered trade secrets that are available to the Bureau of Land Management, but not to the public—they could be enough of a concern to force producers to conduct their operations off of federal land.

“It probably minimally tilts and E&P company’s thoughts on drilling away from federal land and toward drilling on state or private lands,” said Harry Weiss. “There were BLM rules before governing oil and gas exploration, but this one does add more hoops, and that would suggest it would deter drilling on federal lands for now.”

Industry groups have also voiced concern about the overlapping of federal and state regulations, even though the regulations only apply on federal land. States with large amounts of acreage under federal control find the inability to have total direction of activities within their borders to be troublesome.

“There’s a fundamental question out west about how much land the federal government should own and how much control they should have,” he said. The federal government controls millions of acres in the West.


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