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August 15, 2011

Nonprofits Challenge DRBC Gas Drilling Regulations

A coalition of nonprofit organizations filed suit last week against the Army Corps of Engineers and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) for their failure to comply with federal law by proposing to allow gas drilling within the Basin without first conducting a full environmental review as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. Plaintiffs include the National Parks Conservation Association, Riverkeeper, and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. The lawsuit was filed on August 4, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York where the Army Corps office is located. A similar suit was filed in the same court by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on May 31, 2011.

The Plaintiffs' joint press release states that modern advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are granting access to the country’s shale gas reserves. "Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals into a well, fracturing the shale and releasing the natural gas trapped within. Companies are not required to share information publicly about the chemicals used in this process. While all harmful impacts of natural gas development have yet to be fully understood, impacts may include: Health concerns for local communities and the environment including water contamination related to drilling and the disposal of drilling fluid; Reductions in stream flow and ground water levels; [and] Air quality degradation. . . ."

“The Delaware River Basin provides fifty percent of the clean, unfiltered drinking water that nine million New Yorkers depend on daily,” said Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper Watershed Program Director. “This critical resource should not be put at risk by allowing drilling to proceed in the Basin before a complete environmental impact assessment has been carried out as the basis for developing the most effective regulations possible. Absent that review, there is no assurance that the regulations the DRBC is poised to finalize will be adequate to control a risky industrial activity that has already caused documented environmental and human health impacts in other states, including Pennsylvania. No one’s drinking water should be sacrificed in the rush to pursue exploitation of methane gas deposits that have existed for millions of years.”

Posted by Rachel Treichler at 08/15/11 8:00 AM



Copyright 2013, Rachel Treichler



About NY Water Law

New York Water Law covers legal developments relating to water in New York and in jurisdictions that may be influential in New York. The author, Rachel Treichler, practices law in the Finger Lakes region.
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