GM 13-049

BLM Extends Comment Deadline for Revised Proposed Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing; Indian Energy Bill Passed by Committee; Energy-Specific Carcieri Fix Amendment Withdrawn

On June 10, 2013, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), citing “the complexity of the rule and the issues surrounding it,” published the attached notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER extending the comment period for the revised proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing by 60 days. Comments are now due by August 23, 2013.

On June 12, the House Natural Resources Committee voted 25 to 15 (largely along party lines) to pass Subcommittee on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Affairs Chairman Young’s (R-AK) Native American Energy Act (HR 1548). HR 1548 would, among other things, amend the National Environmental Policy Act to restrict the availability of an environmental impact statement prepared for any proposed federal action on Indian lands such that only tribal members and persons residing in the affected area would be allowed to file comments. HR 1548 also contains a provision that would exempt Indian lands from the BLM’s proposed hydraulic fracturing “fracking” regulations which would revise well construction and water storage standards and require public disclosure of fracking chemicals.

Also of interest, Delegate Faleomavaega (D-AS) and AI/AN Subcommittee Ranking Member Hanabusa (D-HI) offered and then withdrew an amendment which would have provided tribes with a partial Carcieri fix. The Faleomavaega-Hanabusa amendment would have reaffirmed the authority for the Secretary of Interior to take land into trust for any federally recognized tribe, provided that the primary use of such land would include energy production. Delegate Faleomavaega offered the amendment citing his concerns that House Republicans had not made good on their commitment to move forward a full Carcieri fix bill. He then withdrew his amendment after Congressman Young reiterated his commitment to move Carcieri fix legislation.

For further information on both the BLM’s revised proposed rule and Representative Young’s bill, see our General Memoranda 13-045 of May 31, 2013, and 12-068 of May 12, 2012.

Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance with drafting comments.