US court asked to hold off on decision over fracking rules

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DENVER (AP) — The Trump administration asked three federal judges from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday to hold off on a decision regarding a major federal fracking rule implemented by the Obama administration.

In March, Trump moved to roll back the rule, which was first issued in 2015 by the Interior Department and required drilling companies to disclose what chemicals they used within 30 days of any fracking.

It was put on hold last year after a federal district judge in Wyoming said the Bureau of Land Management had no authority to set such a rule.

In the court hearing Thursday, the government asked judges not to decide on the case and instead leave the district court's current ruling in effect until it can replace the rule.

The replacement process could take up to five years, according to Michael Freeman, an environmental attorney at the hearing, because the government would need to go through a series of legal processes that would include receiving comments from the public.

Since replacement could years away, the Bureau of Land Management has asked to keep the district court's current decision in place until a new rule is implemented.

An American Indian tribe and the states of Colorado, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming say the rules developed under Obama duplicate state regulations and would cost jobs.

The United States has seen an uptick in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, since 2010, and it has sparked much political controversy.

Critics say the process, which uses huge amounts of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals to make fractures underneath the ground to extract gas and oil contribute to global warming, water pollution, and earthquakes.

Supporters point to concerns over imported oil costs and energy security.

No date was set for the court's final decision.

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