Bryan Cohen Aug. 29, 2013, 7:30pm

HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) -- Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced Thursday that his state has joined four others in protest of a re-proposed rule regarding the regulation of hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian lands.

Fox joined the attorneys general of West Virginia, Oklahoma, Alaska and Alabama in protesting the proposed rule by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, the attorneys general argue that the BLM cannot justify a need for new federal regulations, which would duplicate current state programs.

"The BLM would be hard pressed to explain why it needs to impose new 'one-size-fits-all' regulations on states where hydraulic fracturing operations are in place," Fox said in a statement. "These states, including Montana, already have well trained staff who regulate fracking operations and issue permits.

"This is another example of the federal government trying to complicate the way states self-regulate in ways that work best for them, and could impede the development of oil and gas within their borders."

The five attorneys general also questioned whether the BLM has the authority to regulate water and land use within the states, given the U.S. Supreme Court's long-standing recognition of local and state regulation powers.

Fox and the other attorneys general asked the agency to defer to the states' regulatory programs on federal lands before the BLM finalizes the rule.

The letter also asked the agency to identify any health, safety or environmental concerns related to fracking operations that were not already addressed by state regulators.

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