NY Attorney General Threatens the Feds with a Lawsuit over Marcellus Drilling

It appears that the new New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is looking to make a national name for himself, and he’s found his issue: Marcellus Shale drilling.

As the Delaware River Basin Commission works toward finalizing regulations for gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the river’s watershed, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gave the federal government an ultimatum this week: study the impact of tapping into the Marcellus Shale or face a lawsuit.

Schneiderman contends the DRBC, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not completing an environmental study before moving forward with drilling regulations. The law requires federal agencies to prepare a full review if an action could cause harm to the environment.

“New Yorkers are correctly concerned about fracking’s potential danger 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,” Schneiderman said.*

As my British friends might say, it’s rather “cheeky” of the AG to presume to sue the federal government and try to tell them what to do. But such is the craziness of some politicians–and make no mistake, this is a political ploy.

The problem for AG Schneiderman is that the DRBC is not a federal agency. It’s a cooperative between federal and state governments. So a lawsuit against the DRBC on the basis of violating a federal statute which does not legally apply to them won’t go far.

I love NY!

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Apr 19, 2011) – State, feds at odds over gas drilling

  • NY Shale Gas Now

    The other problem is violation of his professional code as a lawyer.

    He is counsel to NYS, and NYS is a formal constituent of DRBC.

    Doing what he’s doing is the equivalent of suing his own client.

    If I had free time and extra money, as a concerned New Yorker, I would formally challenge the NY AG’s law license through the existing channels.

  • Amifunding

    “A Marcellus Shale industry organization says it now believes the natural gas exploration industry is partly responsible for rising levels of contaminants being found in Pittsburgh-area drinking water.”

    FYI: MDN Editor Jim Willis embarrasses himself daily… trying to put a happy face on the biggest environmental disaster in history. And this one is preventable.

    Hydro fracking is like putting a mini-Fukushima in 37 states, hundreds of counties and thousands of towns across America.

    But hey, new industries will sprout-up to help millions of victims contend will pervasive heavy metals, TDS, salt pollution and radiation and arsenic poisioning.

  • Hmgbird60

    About time someone has the guts to stand up for what is right–Kudos to AG Schneiderman.

  • Go ahead and take your cheap shots Amifunding. By the way, why don’t you sign YOUR name to your posts? Man up.

  • Amifunding

    Jim, I don’t take cheap shots like some blog flammer who lives in Mommy’s basement.
    I have spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours researching the effects of hydro-fracking.

    In addition to paying industry scientists, engineers and leasee’s, I’ve spents hours with oil and gas executives who tell me fracking is like putting the bombs, many times more powerful and destructive than those we’ve been using in Iraq/Afghanistan, underground — fracturing protective layers of rock that keep humankind alive.

    Truth is, there is no way to predict what fractures will continue to expand — when they will expand — how far they will expand — what kind of damage we can predict — or when we can predict it.

    You fail to understand — or hear — that I WAS pro- drilling. I want cheap, clean energy. I want to cash in on the boom. I want to see America rebound and thrive. I am an environmental atheist. I don’t go to the tree-hugger church of love our Holy Mother Earth. I believe everything on this earth was given to us for our benefit and prosperity.

    Truth is Jim, you know I am right (albeit at some unconscious level) and that’s why you get angry with me. Because you know your whole mission will be proven to be a fraud in time. Just like the nuclear industry is now blowing wide open with all of its criminal deceptions, political back room deals and deadly cover-ups.

    My name is Angelo. Feel better? Go google the meaning of the name Angelo. I can’t help it Jim, that’s the name my mother and father gave me after my great grandfather. I don’t even know how one gets a handle on this blog. Amifunding just came out.

  • otegogas

    As Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton puts it:

    “I remain concerned that the Delaware River Basin Commission has proposed regulations allowing natural gas development in the basin without first complying with the National Environmental Policy Act by conducting a review of the environmental impacts of the gas drilling the proposed regulations would authorize. NEPA requires federal agencies to conduct a full review of actions that may cause significant environmental impacts.”

    So Jim, to be sure I understand your position correctly, are you saying that we need to exempt the gas industry from adhering to THIS federal law too (NEPA), along with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (EXCEPT in the State of Alabama, that is)?

    I don’t think it is in the best interest of the people of this country to give the gas (and oil) industry any more leeway to pollute the environment and endanger public health, and I think anyone with basic common sense would have to agree, including Att. Gen. Eric Schneiderman.

  • My position is clear and simple: Gas drilling traditionally has been, and should continue to be, regulated by the individual states–NOT by the federal government. The states are quite capable of doing it and doing a better job with it than agencies like the EPA which are politically influenced and controlled by whomever happens to hold power in Washington.

  • otegogas

    Woops! Here is the article Mayor Ryan was quoted in for anyone who may be interested:

    AG Right to Demand Fracking Study – Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin


  • Binghamton is on the Susquehanna, not the Delaware. It’s worth noting that the states involved with the Susquehanna watershed have already put in place basin-wide water-withdrawal regulations for natural gas drillers, and they did so without much delay, with little controversy, without any litigation, and (so far as I remember) without an environmental impact statement.

    A truly skeptical person would ask why Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan would choose to insert himself into the Delaware dispute, involving, as it does, water that doesn’t even flow through his city, from his city, or anywhere near his city.

    A truly skeptical person might conclude Ryan is just trying to score points with his present and future base, which is by and large Democratic and liberal and idealistic and impressionable and concerned, but which also — like most northeastern urban dwellers — shows little sign of voluntarily switching off of natural gas as a heating and power source.

    Whoever said you can’t have it both ways has obviously never met any of these selectively skeptical characters from NYC, Albany, Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Phillie, or Pittsburgh — folks who demonize shale gas at the very same moment as they’re cooking with it, drying their clothes with it, or burning it for heat.

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