Schneiderman Gives Ultimatum on Hydrofracking
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is giving the federal government 30 days to commit to doing a full environmental review of proposed regulations for natural-gas drilling—including hydraulic fracturing—in the Delaware River Basin, or else. If that doesn’t happen, New York will sue, he announced today. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that federal agencies complete a full evaluation of activities that could cause substantial environmental impacts.
Schneiderman said fracking poses risks to the environment and health, “including withdrawing large volumes of water from creeks and streams, contamination of drinking water supplies, generation of harmful wastes, increased noise, dust and air pollution, and harms to community infrastructure and character from increased industrial activity.” The Delaware River Basin includes the New York City watershed and portions of Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Schoharie, Green, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan Counties. More than nine million New Yorkers depend on it for water each day. Roughly 58 percent of the land area of New York City’s West-of-Hudson watershed is within the Delaware River Basin.
“Both the law and common sense dictate that the federal government must fully assess the impact of its actions before opening the door to gas fracking in New York,” he said in a statement. “New Yorkers are correctly concerned about fracking’s potential dangers to their environment, health and communities, and I will use the full authority of my office, including aggressive legal action, to ensure the federal government is forced to address those concerns.”
Hydrofracking is a drilling technique in which a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is used to break shale formations and release natural gas. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has placed permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling on hold while it completes its second draft of an environmental-impact study on hydrofracking. It is supposed to be completed by late summer. Natural-gas companies are interested in drilling in the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier and other shale formations.