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NY Sues to Stop Fracking in Delaware Basin

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The New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing a regulatory commission should not issue final rules governing gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, says the New York Times.

Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, filed the suit in the United States District Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday seeking to halt the Delaware River Basin Commission, a regional regulatory agency, from drafting its own rules without using a comprehensive environmental impact study.

The commission, comprised of the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and a federal representative from the Army Corps of Engineers, is in the process of completing regulations that will bring uniformity to the rules applied to hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into shale formations to extract natural gas.

Mr. Schneiderman argues the commission is required by federal law to consider a full environmental review study before finalizing rules regarding drilling.

“Before any decisions on drilling are made, it is our responsibility to follow the facts and understand the public health and safety effects posed by potential natural gas development,” the attorney general said.

The commission estimates there could be more than 10,000 wells in the Delaware River Basin, a 13,500 square-mile area that covers 58 percent of the New York City watershed, reported the Times.

Natural gas drilling in the area could affect 9 million water drinkers in New York, said the state complaint. New York City has already spent nearly $1.5 billion protecting its drinking water source by purchasing land to serve as a buffer for pollutants, upgrading sewage plants and regulating human activities, reported Bloomberg News.

According to the state complaint, the need to filter any hazardous chemicals released during drilling could cost the city more than $10 billion annually, with yearly maintenance costs exceeding $100 million.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not issued a comment on the suit, but in a letter to the attorney general, Brig. Gen. Peter A. DeLuca of the Army Corps argued the National Environmental Policy Act does not apply to the commission because the regional body is not a federal agency. He also said a study by Environment Protection Agency will be considered when determining the impact of gas drilling on water quality.

Officials with the commission emphasize that any new regulations issued would only supplement other state’s requirements to ensure drilling safety.

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