Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today pledged to sue the federal government if it doesn’t commit in 30 days to conducting a full environmental review of proposed regulations that would allow industrial gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin. The Basin includes the New York City watershed and portions of Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Schoharie, Green, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan Counties, and provides approximately 50 percent of the drinking water used by over nine million New York residents and visitors every day.
At issue is the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, in which drilling companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force out the gas.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:
“Rushed and irresponsible gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin is a terrible idea. Erosion, unavoidable spills, and migration of toxic chemicals could too easily end up contaminating the drinking water supply for millions of people.
“For all of these reasons, we are heartened that Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is taking pro-active steps to protect public health and the environment from the threats of gas development. An environmental impact study will have positive benefits not just in New York but throughout the four-state Delaware River Basin.
“Studies of the cumulative health and environmental impacts of gas development are desperately needed in the Northeast, including outside the Delaware River Basin. With the exception of New York, most states in the path of this drilling rush are not undertaking such studies—and, in the case of Pennsylvania, have suffered dire consequences as a result. That’s why it is so important for federal agencies to step up.
“The region’s gas drilling rush has also fueled a massive network of proposed pipeline projects. This is another area where a thorough study by federal agencies is warranted. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should complete a region-wide environmental impact statement for the thousands of miles of gas pipeline serving the Marcellus Shale region. Before any new federal pipelines are approved, it’s crucial that FERC fully disclose cumulative pipeline impacts and ensure that protections are in place for public health, safety, and the environment.”