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September 25, 2012

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit for Full Environ. Review of Gas Drilling in Delaware River Basin

Reuters reported yesterday that U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn dismissed a lawsuit seeking environmental studies to determine the effect of gas drilling on the Delaware River Basin. See Judge dismisses New York's anti-drilling lawsuit by Jessica Dye. The suit was filed May 31, 2011, by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on behalf of the citizens of New York and was joined in by several environmental groups. We previously reported on the suit here and here. The Delaware River and its tributaries supply water to about 15 million people, including 9 million New Yorkers.

Judge Garaufis dismissed the suit on procedural grounds, saying there was no basis for the lawsuit since the regulations it sought to halt had not yet been finalized. "The court concludes that this dispute is not currently fit for judicial review," Garaufis wrote. "The harms that plaintiffs ultimately are concerned about are speculative, and rely on a chain of inferences that may never come to pass."

The suit was filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency for their failure to commit to a full environmental review of proposed regulations by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) that would allow natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin. The complaint, which is posted on the AG's website, sought an injunction ordering the Defendants to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by preparing a draft EIS. The complaint was subsequently amended to add the DRBC as a defendant.

The DRBC issued draft regulations in 2010 and revised draft regulations in 2011 that would govern natural gas exploration and extraction in the Delaware River basin. The proposed regulations would allow as many as 18,000 gas wells in the basin. The regulations have not been finalized.

According to Reuters, a spokesman for the New York attorney general's office declined to comment on the dismissal.

Posted by Rachel Treichler at 09/25/12 12:25 PM



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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