September 26, 2012 —
NEW YORK, NY — A federal judge threw out a lawsuit brought by the NY State Attorney General against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and various federal agencies regarding hydraulic fracturing. Schneiderman had argued that the DRBC was compelled to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act in creating a set of rules for fracking in the Delaware River Basin, which would require the completion of an environmental impact statement.
But the judge said the case was premature, because the rules have not yet been put in place, and there is currently a moratorium on fracking in the basin.
U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis said, “Plaintiffs appear to believe that, if defendants are not forced to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) now, their interests will be placed at risk immediately. But that is not the case. The courts will be available if and when the DRBC adopts final regulations permitting natural gas development and are more than capable of preliminarily enjoining any development so that no wastewater is created before the courts have evaluated whether the DRBC and the federal defendants are obligated to follow NEPA in this instance.”
When the DRBC does issue fracking regulations, the judge said that the court may be called upon to answer whether DRBC is a federal agency and therefore subject to the NEPA.
Lawsuits by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability had been consolidated into this case.