New Lawsuit Filed in NY Federal Court Attempts to Delay/Prevent Gas Drilling in the Delaware River Basin

lawsuitThose opposed to Marcellus drilling in New York and Pennsylvania continue to use the court system in an attempt to either delay or outright ban drilling. The latest instance came just yesterday with a lawsuit filed in federal court in New York:

Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Thursday in New York City to force federal officials to conduct an environmental review before issuing final regulations on natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin because of concerns over the method used to remove the gas.

The lawsuit asks a federal court in Brooklyn to find that the Delaware River Basin Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated federal requirements by not doing the review and to order them to conduct one.

The suit follows a similar one filed earlier this year by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The Delaware River Basin provides drinking water to millions of people, including New York City residents. About a third of the basin sits on top of the Marcellus Shale, a natural gas reserve underneath several states.

The commission imposed a moratorium on drilling in its part of the formation while it works on regulations. Meanwhile, energy companies have leased thousands of acres of land in the basin, and the commission has released draft regulations.

"We have the regulator going ahead with rules without having clearly assessed the potential for those rules," said Susan Kraham, an attorney representing the National Parks Conservation Association, one of the plaintiffs.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Riverkeeper, and the Delaware and Hudson Riverkeepers are also plaintiffs. Kraham said the lawsuit might be consolidated with the attorney general’s.

The suit names the commission and the Army Corps as defendants. DRBC spokesman Clarke Rupert said the commission would review the suit before commenting.*

As referenced, New York’s AG Eric Schneiderman is also trying this approach. But just a few days ago the federal government filed a brief with the very same court in Brooklyn asking that his case be dismissed because the AG does not have the legal right to sue a federal agency (see MDN story here).

This latest lawsuit, if successful, would prevent drilling in not only New York State, but also in parts of northeastern Pennsylvania that sit in the Delaware River Basin.

*The Boston Globe/AP (Aug 4, 2011) – Environment groups file suit over gas regulations