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US Agency Lacks Authority to Set Rules on Fracking: Judge

Last year, Skavdahl blocked implementation of rules drafted by the agency

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    In this March 29, 2013, file photo, workers tend to a well head during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an oil and natural gas extraction site, outside Rifle, on the Western Slope of Colorado.

    A judge has ruled that federal regulators lack the authority to set rules for hydraulic fracturing, dealing another setback to the Obama administration's efforts to tighten how fossil fuels are mined.

    In an order signed Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said the U.S. Bureau of Land Management can't set the rules because Congress has not authorized it to do so.

    Last year, Skavdahl blocked implementation of rules drafted by the agency.

    The states of Colorado, North Dakota and Utah and Wyoming oppose the rules involving hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting substances including water, sand and chemicals underground to increase production from oil and gas wells.

    The Bureau of Land Management and a coalition of environmental groups say the rules are necessary to protect the environment.