NY Attorney General Invokes Federal NEPA to Extinguish Natural Gas Boom

Guest Commentary

by Ry Ellison, a 2012 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law.

A hodgepodge of complex and confusing laws have left natural gas developers in “regulatory limbo”—stunting development of upstate New York’s massive Marcellus Shale formation and jeopardizing thousands of well-paying jobs for New Yorkers.   Further compounding the regulatory uncertainty—which was originally spawned by a patchwork of laws signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo—is a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.  Ultimately, Schneiderman’s lawsuit represents a proxy battle in the larger “fracking war” between environmental activists and natural gas developers.   

The lawsuit, which pits the state of New York against the federal government, seeks to suspend the use of hydraulic fracturing pending yet another review of the natural gas-extraction technique’s impact on the state’s water supply.  Schneiderman claimed that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other federal defendants, along with the Delaware River Basin Commission (“DRBC”) violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”) by refusing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) analyzing the impact of hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin.  Specifically, Schneiderman alleged that the defendants’ failure to comply with NEPA by not performing an EIS “threatens significant harm to New York’s waters” and would result in “increased air pollution in New York, and adverse health impacts for New Yorkers.” Continue reading “NY Attorney General Invokes Federal NEPA to Extinguish Natural Gas Boom”