New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has promised to sue the federal government if the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) won’t conduct a full environmental impact review of its proposed gas drilling regulations by May 18.
As an angler who fishes on the Delaware River, one of the best trout fisheries in the East, I fully support the attorney general’s position. Not only is the river a prized recreational resource, the Delaware provides drinking water for 15 million people in three states. It also plays a critical role in the local economy by supporting many recreational-related jobs in the region.
As drilling in the Marcellus Shale region becomes imminent, the DRBC has ignored repeated calls to conduct a cumulative impact study of the water withdrawals, wastewater and development of thousands of wells in the basin. But the DRBC cannot ignore its obligation to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)—a law designed to ensure that cumulative environmental impacts are considered when agencies make decisions.
The DRBC must fully review how water resources—and the fish, wildlife and communities that rely upon them—will be affected before allowing drilling to happen. Only then can strong regulations that protect these irreplaceable resources from the effects of gas drilling be enacted. The stakes are simply too high.
Port Ewen, NY