New York AG sues federal agencies for lax hydrofracking regulation

Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, has filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies for failing to adequately review the dangers of hydrofracking, the controversial technique used to mine natural gas by injecting large amounts of water and chemicals into shale deposits.

The suit was filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the complaint, the suit “seeks to compel these Federal Agencies to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by preparing and making available for public comment a draft environmental impact statement before proceeding to adopt proposed Delaware River Basin Commission regulations that would authorize natural gas development within the Delaware River Basin.”

That basin includes parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. The Upper Delaware River, the complaint says, provides drinking water for 9 million New Yorkers, which they say is put at risk by the future development of at least 15,000 natural gas wells in Pennsylvania and New York under regulations being developed by the Delaware River Basin Commission.

EPA has expressed “serious reservations about whether gas drilling in the New York City watershed is consistent with the vision of long-term maintenance of a high quality unfiltered water supply.” The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (“NYCDEP”), which supplies drinking water from that watershed, has concluded based on third-party scientific studies that natural gas development would “pose an unacceptable threat to the unfiltered, fresh water supply of nine million New Yorkers, and cannot safely be permitted within the New York City watershed.” …

The Federal Agencies have determined that authorization of natural gas well development in the Basin would potentially result in significant cumulative adverse environmental impacts and that a study of those impacts should be performed. But Defendants refuse to comply with NEPA and refuse to prepare an EIS assessing the cumulative environmental impacts. Under NEPA, an EIS must include analysis of the environmental impacts of a proposed action, and consideration of alternatives to the action and measures to mitigate adverse environmental impacts.

New York brings this action to protect its waters, air quality, climate, public health, and landholdings within the Basin which have been placed at risk by Defendants’ NEPA violations and to vindicate the State’s procedural rights under that statute.

More than 500,000 acres of public and private land in Michigan has been leased for hydrofracking.

Here’s the full text of the complaint:


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