The green energy, “keep it in the ground” folks are off to a bad start in 2018. It turns out that another one of Barack Obama’s signature “achievements” in energy regulation, the one which would heavily regulate fracking on federal lands, is going away. Given what a dirty word “fracking” has become in liberal circles, this is causing all manner of outrage on the left. There’s only one catch here… the rule in question never even went into effect for even a single day. (Washington Times)
The Obama administration’s 2015 fracking rule was never actually implemented, thanks to an ongoing court battle, and it apparently never will be.
The Interior Department published a final rule Friday in the Federal Register repealing immediately the hydraulic-fracturing regulation on federal lands, saying that “we believe it imposes administrative burdens and compliance costs that are not justified.”
The previous fracking rule was already moribund after a federal judge in Wyoming struck it down in June 2016 in response to a four-state lawsuit, holding that the Bureau of Land Management had overstepped its authority by acting without congressional approval.
Under Obama, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had been fighting the lower court ruling every step of the way. The 10th Circuit had given them until January 12th to file their next appeal and keep the case going. But now that the new rules have come out and the regulation under discussion has disappeared, the point is moot and the case has collapsed in upon itself.
That’s a sensible approach since each state already sets their own rules regarding fracking. If the residents of certain states (such as New York, sadly) wish to elect leaders who ban fracking and miss out on that sort of economic opportunity, that’s up to them. As the Trump administration is pointing out, that’s why it’s best left up to the states. Meanwhile, other states such as Pennsylvania are seeing an employment boom and rising personal wealth for people who lease out their land for energy development. And after many years of this, the Keystone State doesn’t seem to have fallen into a black hole.
Meanwhile, on a somewhat related note, do you recall how we finally got the Dakota Access Pipeline approved and finished? You might be wondering how that’s working out for the people of North Dakota. The Wall Street Journal looked into the question (subscription required) and found that things are coming up roses.
In just six months of service, the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline has boosted North Dakota’s economy and energy sector, helping lower transportation costs for energy companies and increase oil production by 78,000 barrels per day in October from September — the biggest-ever monthly rise. As a result, the state had an unemployment rate of 2.3% in November, while revenue climbed by about $43.5 million in the first five months since the pipeline came online.
That’s the result for a pipeline which only occupies space inside the United States. We’re still seeing too many delays on international pipeline work thanks to ongoing court challenges. And do you know what that means for shipping volumes? Environmentalists will probably cheer and tell you that less oil is being moved, but that’s not the case. It just means that more and more of it is moving by train. According to Reuters, Canadian crude-by-rail exports to the United States hit a six-month high of 137,000 barrels per day in October and it’s not slowing down. They’d better hope those trains are smarter than some of our recent passenger rail service lines or they’ll be wishing they had more pipelines in operation.