New York Threatens to Sue DRBC over NEPA Fracking Study
New York?s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has said he will sue the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) if it does not commit to performing a full environmental impact study of its proposed hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, regulations within 30 days.
The DRBC is a federal-interstate body created through a Congressionally-approved compact between the federal government and governors of the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Commission has legal authority to approve or disapprove activities that may have a substantial effect on the water resources within the 13,500 square mile Delaware River Basin -- including over 2,300 square miles in New York.
Schneiderman claims that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to conduct a full review of the environmental impacts of fracking because it poses numerous risks to the environment, health, and communities, including withdrawing large volumes of water from creeks and streams, contamination of drinking water supplies, generation of harmful wastes, increased noise, dust and air pollution, and harms to community infrastructure and character from increased industrial activity.
Schneiderman's demand for a NEPA review of fracking was sent to several federal agencies with policy-making roles on the DRBC, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Parks Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
There is currently a moratorium on fracking in the state of New York, but it is set to expire next month. Sources indicate that a NEPA study could take years to complete and would delay drilling for years to come.
"Both the law and common sense dictate that the federal government must fully assess the impact of its actions before opening the door to gas fracking in New York," said Schneiderman. "New Yorkers are correctly concerned about fracking's potential dangers to their environment, health and communities, and I will use the full authority of my office, including aggressive legal action, to ensure the federal government is forced to address those concerns."
Those in favor of drilling oppose such a study, and many have said that the DRBC?s proposed regulations are too restrictive.
Should you have any questions about this or any matter involving energy law, please contact the Energy Team at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC.