A bipartisan group of former senior Interior Department officials are getting behind the Obama administration as it seeks to defend its fracking regulations in federal court.

The officials served in the Interior Department under both Republican and Democratic presidents over the last 20 years.

They filed a motion Friday in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, saying a federal judge in Wyoming had been wrong to strike down the Bureau of Land Management's controversial fracking regulation in June. The Obama administration is challenging the decision in the Denver-based 10th Circuit.

"Congress has enacted broad organic statutes that govern mineral leasing and federal land management, and authorize the Bureau of Land Management to regulate oil and gas drilling activities on the public lands," the former officials wrote in their brief to the court. "Under these statutes, the BLM has for decades specified operational requirements for lessees engaged in oil and gas drilling activities. The hydraulic fracturing rules are simply the latest manifestation of this well-established authority."

Judge Scott Skavdahl, a judge whom President Obama appointed to the federal court in Wyoming, ruled against the fracking rules, saying Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 had exempted fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, from such regulations. The former officials corrected him in their brief, saying the narrow exemption applies only to the Environmental Protection Agency's clean water authority, not the Interior Department's.

Fracking is a drilling method used to extract oil and gas from shale rock deep underground. It is credited with making the U.S. a top fossil fuel producer in a matter of a few years. The industry argues that the Bureau of Land Management rules would upset the progress the nation has made in increasing its supplies of oil and gas and keeping energy prices low.