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Schneiderman Sues the Feds


On Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he has filed suit against the federal government for “failure to commit to a full environmental review of proposed regulations that would allow natural gas drilling—including the potentially harmful ‘fracking’ technique—in the Delaware River Basin.”

The suit, filed in US District Court in Brooklyn, is a reaction to new regulations proposed in April by the Delaware River Basin Commission that would permit deep-well, horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas, despite concerns regarding the environmental impacts of the practice. The commission’s proposed regulations typically would require extensive environmental reviews, but the US Army Corps of Engineers, the lead review agency, has not committed to undertaking any such study. Schneiderman is suing to make sure that they do.

The AG’s principal audience is surely the Downstate constituency to whom he owes his election—the Delaware River Basin lies within New York City’s watershed and is a significant ecological and recreational resource for the region—but his suit addresses concerns shared by environmentalists statewide, who hope that the current moratorium on permits for deep-well, horizontal fracking will be extended until the US Environmental Protection Agency has weighed in on its impacts.

The Delaware River Basin Commission is an interstate agency with jurisdiction of the river’s watershed in four states: Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Brigadier General Peter A. DeLuca of the US Army Corps of Engineers is a member of the commission, and says that the federal government has no jurisdiction over the commission’s activities.

geoff kelly

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