By Associated Press - Friday, April 24, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A federal judge in Wyoming has allowed North Dakota and Colorado to intervene with Wyoming in a lawsuit challenging new rules for oil and gas drilling on federal land.

The Obama administration announced in March that it will require companies that drill on federal lands to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The rule takes effect in June.

The three states assert the move is unlawful in part because it interferes with their own regulations that address the process.

Wyoming filed its lawsuit last month. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin of Cheyenne this week granted permission for both North Dakota and Colorado to intervene alongside Wyoming.

North Dakota regulators say the new federal rule could add years to the permitting process and hamper the drilling of thousands of wells in the state.

“I am pleased the court has allowed North Dakota to participate as a party to uphold our state’s strong and comprehensive fracking regulations,” North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Friday in a prepared statement. “We will be there alongside Wyoming in protecting our own state’s authority to regulate the industry.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman issued a statement saying the lawsuit raises the issue of whether the U.S. Bureau of Land Management can impose its own regulations on hydraulic fracturing. She stated federal law does not give the agency that power and leaves it to the states to regulate.

“Colorado has robust regulations on oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, and our agency regulators are doing a good job implementing them,” Coffman said in a prepared statement. “I believe it is important to test BLM’s novel assertion of regulatory authority in an area that has been traditionally - and in this case expressly - reserved for the states.”

Attempts to reach officials with the Wyoming attorney general’s office for comment on the admission of the other states into the lawsuit were unsuccessful.

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