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U.S. Government Free to Seek Dismissal of New York Fracking Lawsuit

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A judge will allow the U.S. government to contest a New York State fracking lawsuit that targets use of the controversial natural gas extraction technique in the Delaware River Basin. Opponents of hydraulic fracturing believe that permitting it in the Basin could devastate a vital source of drinking water for 17 million on the East Coast.

Bloomberg.com reports that U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said yesterday that the U.S. is able to proceed with a bid to dismiss the case, which was filed in by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“There are constitutional issues,” Garaufis said. “It’s regulatory. It’s statutory. It’s quite a mix of arguments,” he added, wrote Bloomberg.com.

Schneiderman sued 10 federal agencies in May, arguing that the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) proposed drilling regulations, which if approved could allow fracking at 15,000-18,000 new gas wells in the Basin, cannot be adopted without a wider environmental review, said Bloomberg.com.

NewsInferno points out that the Basin sits atop the Marcellus shale and includes large areas in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. The shale contains vast deposits of natural gas that the energy industry has long coveted, but the prospect of fracking in the Basin has set off a campaign among environmentalists hoping to ensure its environmental integrity.

At issue is that the Basin is a significant water source, providing drinking water to 17 million people on the East Cost and covering most of the land in New York City’s watershed located west of the Hudson River. New York City has spent a massive $1.5 billion to protect the drinking water derived from this critical watershed.

Regardless, industry—including the American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the US Oil & Gas Association—is more concerned with profiting from potential shale extraction opportunities and continues to actively fight against any effort to sop fracking in the Basin, claiming doing so would cause economic hardship to pipeline operators, natural gas producers, and other industries. Those groups have filed to intervene in the New York lawsuit, said Bloomberg.com.

While frackers cite the creation of new jobs from fracking, environmentalists point to massive infractions of environmental law, release of carcinogens and other serious toxins that have long- and short-term effects to human and environmental life, and the massive wreckage the process of fracking leaves on the environment.

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