Judge strikes down as illegal Obama fracking regulations

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The law is such an inconvenient thing: With strong language a federal judge has bluntly struck down the Obama administrations attempt to regulate the fracking industry.

Judge Scott Skavdahl of the District Court of Wyoming already had put a hold on the regulations last year, and in a decision released late Tuesday, he ruled that Congress did not give Interior the power to regulate hydraulic fracturing, indeed it had expressly withheld that power with some narrow exceptions. “Congress has not delegated to the Department of Interior the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing,” Judge Skavdahl wrote in deciding a lawsuit brought by industry groups and a number of Western states. The “effort to do so through the Fracking Rule is in excess of its statutory authority and contrary to law.”

The judge dismissed particularly the claim by the Interior Department and its Bureau of Land Management that it had inherent broad regulatory authority to pursue the public good on federal and Indian lands, the only place the regulations would have applied. “Congress‘ inability or unwillingness to pass a law desired by the executive branch does not default authority to the executive branch to act independently, regardless of whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States,” wrote Judge Skavdahl, whom Mr. Obama appointed to the bench in 2011. [emphasis mine]

That a judge whom Obama appointed, who thus is almost certainly a Democrat, was willing to put aside his partisan loyalties to rule so forcefully against the Obama administration gives me great hope. In recent years Democratic judges have almost ceased ruling based on law and have instead been guided almost exclusively by their political leanings. This judge’s ruling here suggests that there remain some principled judges, even on the left.

Posted from fascist Los Angeles, a place where they make you pay $19 for a five minute two mile taxi ride.


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