New York attorney general threatens lawsuit over fracking
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.
In December 2010, over the objection of then-Governor David Paterson, the DRBC proposed regulations allowing natural gas development – including high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling (a technique commonly referred to as “fracking”) – in the basin.
The DRBC estimates that its proposed regulations will result in 15,000 to 18,000 gas wells being drilled within the Basin, most of which are expected to be developed by fracking. The DRBC proposed the regulations without first conducting an assessment of the environmental impacts related to allowing fracking in the Basin.
In today's letter, which builds on comments he submitted to the DRBC last Friday, Schneiderman demands that the Commission immediately comply with its NEPA obligations by suspending its consideration of the proposed regulations and undertaking a full review of all public health and safety risks posed by natural gas development in the Basin.
Schneiderman further called for this review to include, among other elements, an evaluation of the cumulative impacts of widespread fracking within the Basin as well as the alternative of not authorizing natural gas development within the portion of the Basin that includes New York City's West-of-Hudson watershed.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is currently revising a Draft Supplemental Generic Impact Statement (dSGEIS) assessing the environmental impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling within New York. The next version is expected to be released as a revised draft for public review and comment later this year. The dSGEIS outlines safety measures, protection standards and mitigation strategies that operators would have to follow to obtain permits.
This matter is being handled by the New York City Watershed Inspector General, Philip Bein, and New York City Watershed Inspector General Scientist, Charles Silver, Ph.D., under the supervision of the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau Chief, Lemuel M. Srolovic.