FrackingThe Southern Utes have filed a legal challenge against the federal fracking rules set to take effect on Wednesday arguing that the government’s interference would trump the tribe’s authority over its own lands.

Attorney Sam Maynes is representing the tribe, and told the Durango Herald they have requested a hearing Tuesday for a temporary restraining order to block the rule, which they say conflicts with the Indian Mineral Leasing Act.

“The BLM was overreaching when it enacted this rule for tribal lands,” said Southern Ute Chairman Clement Frost. “Tribal lands should be treated differently than federal lands. Some of the provisions in this new rule are just burdensome regulations that are not tied to an environmental benefit.”

More to the point, the tribe already has their own rules that are compatible to Colorado’s regulations to oversee fracking, protect the aquifers, and disclose chemicals — all without the “bureaucratic morass” and delays imposed by the new federal rules, said Bob Zahradnik, operating director of the Southern Ute Growth Fund.

But that doesn’t matter to lawyers at EarthJustice, who are leading the fight for Big Green in support of the new rules that they see as a means of crippling the industry in bureaucratic red tape.

“Our public lands belong to all Americans,” said EarthJustice staff attorney Michael Freeman, who is representing the group, which includes the Sierra Club and Conservation Colorado Education Fund.


We can’t wait to see Maynes set Freeman straight on public versus tribal lands.

Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota have also filed suits against the federal government seeking to block the rule.