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