AG plans to sue over fracking

Staff reports

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced this week he will file a lawsuit today against the federal government for its 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.

“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,” Schneiderman said.

In April, just one day before a blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas drilling site caused gallons of chemical-laced water to spill over neighboring land and into a stream, the AG demanded that the federal government comply with the National Environmental Policy Act . The law requires federal agencies to conduct a full review of actions that may cause significant environmental impacts.

Despite the legal requirement, the Delaware River Basin – with the approval of its supporting federal agencies – proposed regulations allowing natural gas development in the Basin without undertaking any such review.  

Schneiderman announced the lawsuit will compel an environmental review before regulations authorizing gas drilling are finalized.

According to a press release issued by the AG’s office, the proposed natural gas development regulations allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling  or “fracking” within the Basin. Unless studied and subject to strict controls, fracking poses risks to the environment, health, and communities, including the withdrawal of large volumes of water from creeks and streams, potential contamination of drinking water supplies, waste generation, increased noise, dust and air pollution, and potential harms to community infrastructure and character from increased industrial activity, the release said.