Judge Blocks Federal Oil, Gas Drilling Rules

A judge has blocked new nationwide regulations for oil and gas drilling on federal lands while a lawsuit moves forward.

The order Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Casper, Wyoming, means the already postponed rules might not take effect for years, even if they're ultimately upheld.

The federal government announced the rules in March. They apply to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and other practices involving oil and gas production.

Skavdahl says the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn't appear to have the authority to regulate fracking just because a law prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from doing so.

Two petroleum industry groups and four states are seeking to invalidate the rules, saying they duplicate state regulations and would cost jobs. Environmentalists say they would protect water, land and wildlife.