State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking legal action to put the brakes on natural gas drilling in New York.
Yesterday, he filed a lawsuit against the federal government in a Brooklyn court.
Scheiderman says federal authorities have failed to fully look into the potential environmental effects of drilling in the Delaware River Basin.
At the heart of the matter is whether the Delaware River Basin Commission, a compact of five states, including New York, has the authority to permit the controversial drilling method called “horizontal hydraulic fracturing” or fracking.
Reaction to the lawsuit mirrors the heated debate over whether New York should lift its temporary moratorium on fracking.
“It seems the AG’s on shaky legal ground,” says Jim Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, a trade group that represents drillers.
Smith believes Schneiderman has overstepped his authority.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the legal facts are not prevailing,” he says.
But activists on the other side of the drilling debate disagree. Rob Moore is the executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, a government watchdog group.
He praises Schneiderman’s move, saying, “It seems like Attorney General Scheiderman is standing up for New York’s water resources, which is critical.”
Regardless of the lawsuit, the drilling debate is certain to continue in New York. The Department of Environmental Conservation is still drafting fracking regulations, which are due out this summer.