Southern Ute Tribe settles lawsuit over federal fracking regulation

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota hosts more than 1,000 fracking wells. Photo by Talli Nauman / Native Sun News

The Southern Ute Tribe will continue to regulate fracking on its reservation after reaching a settlement with the Obama administration.

The tribe went to court last year to challenge a new Bureau of Land Management regulation that imposes hydraulic fracturing standards in Indian Country. The lawsuit said the rule violated federal law and was developed without adequate consultation

But the two parties have since reached an agreement that recognizes the tribe's role as the primary regulator of its lands in Colorado. They will submit the settlement to the court and ask for the case to be dismissed.

“We filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior challenging the BLM rule because we felt that tribal input had been ignored. Once we had the chance to sit across the table from each other in meaningful discussion, we recognized that we shared many of the same goals, including the exercise of sovereignty by the tribe over Southern Ute lands," Chairman Clement Frost said in a press release. "We are glad that we have resolved this dispute in a government-to-government manner.”

The settlement does not affect a different case that resulted in the rule being put on hold by a federal judge. The Ute Tribe in neighboring Utah is part of that lawsuit, which is pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Utes advanced some of the same arguments as their relatives in Colorado. A federal judge agreed that the fracking rule violates federal laws that were written to address energy development in Indian Country.

The Southern Ute Tribe's Department of Energy has developed regulations to address fracking. As part of the settlement, the BLM agrees that the rules "meet or exceed" the federal standards.

Bureau of Land Management Hydraulic Fracturing Documents:
Press Release | Final Rule

Federal Register Notice:
Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands (March 26, 2015)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Ute Tribe goes ignored again as lawmakers host field hearing on energy (10/03)
Funding bill for Indian Country clears House for first time in years (07/14)
Amendment seeks to outlaw fracking regulation in Indian Country (07/13)
White House defends fracking standards imposed on Indian Country (06/23)
Judge invalidates fracking standards imposed on Indian Country (6/22)
Navajo Nation lawmakers debate position on hydraulic fracking (05/17)
Ute Tribe disputes legality of BLM fracking rule in Indian Country (04/21)
Democrat Bernie Sanders calls for a nationwide ban on fracking (04/12)
Oklahoma named at highest risk of human-induced earthquakes (03/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal activist welcomes pledge to curb fracking (03/21)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribal members vent about fracking (03/04)
Turtle Mountain Band moved fast to ban fracking on reservation (01/21)
Native Sun News: Voters say no to waste dump near Pine Ridge (01/11)
Native Sun News: Court backs vote on dump near Pine Ridge (12/18)
Native Sun News: Court backs vote on dump near Pine Ridge (12/18)
Environmental groups file appeal over disputed BLM fracking rule (12/04)
Native Sun News: Tribal member speaks out against fracking (11/27)
Republicans push controversial Indian energy bill through House (10/09)
White House blasts Native American Energy Act ahead of vote (10/08)
Ute Tribe and states win injunction against new BLM fracking rule (10/01)
Haskell students to study fracking on North Dakota reservation (07/28)
Judge delays BLM's fracking regulation for another month (07/21)
House to resume consideration of Interior appropriations measure (07/07)
Senate appropriations bill shields tribes from BLM fracking rule (06/26)
Federal judge puts temporary hold on BLM's fracking regulation (06/24)
White House threatens veto of funding bill for Indian programs (06/24)
Southern Ute Tribe loses bid to stop fracking rule on reservation (06/23)
Southern Ute Tribe sues to block fracking rule on reservation (06/22)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe sees rise in fracking wells (6/17)
White House questions 'misplaced priorities' in appropriations bill (6/16)
Appropriations measure blocks BIA's federal recognition reforms (6/16)
Appropriations report sounds alarm about land-into-trust agenda (6/15)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe hit with another brine spill (05/21)
Authorities look into brine spill on North Dakota reservation (05/19)
Editorial: DOI's new fracking regulations strike the right balance (04/01)
Opinion: Don't include Indian Country in BLM fracking regulation (03/30)
Interior Department includes tribal land in fracking regulation (3/20)
Native Sun News: Oil spill threatens North Dakota tribe's water (03/18)
Native Sun News: Tribe keeps wraps on tests of water after spill (03/09)
Editorial: New York governor makes right decision to ban fracking (12/18)
Winona LaDuke: Fracking bans needed across Indian Country (10/09)
Native Sun News: Tribes urged to ban fracking on reservations (08/12)
Jay Daniels: Concerns about fracking lie with disposal of waste (06/26)
Energy company vows complete disclosure of fracking fluids (04/25)
House committee approves Native American Energy Act (06/13)
DOI extends comment period on rule for hydraulic fracturing (06/06)
DOI defends inclusion of Indian lands in fracking regulation (05/24)
DOI releases update to fracking regulation on Indian lands (5/16)