New York state sues feds over fracking study

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 15:19 EDT
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A fracking protest. Image via AFP.
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New York state has filed a lawsuit alleging that regulators did not fully conduct an environmental impact study on the Delaware River Basin before authorizing energy companies to begin drilling for gas using a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Fracking involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground, triggering small explosions that drive gas pockets upwards.

In extreme cases, scientists say fracking can cause poisonous gases like methane to contaminate underground water supplies. Methane leaks from soil also add to the greenhouse effect.

In this case, the projects in question are under way in Pennsylvania, and have been ongoing for several years. Environmental advocates warn this could result in the contamination of water supplies drawn on by more than 2.8 million people in New Jersey.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) insisted that federal authorities take the possible health effects of fracking into consideration.

“Before any decisions on drilling are made, it is our responsibility to follow the facts and understand the public health and safety effects posed by potential natural gas development,” Schneidermann said in a media advisory.

“The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so. The welfare of those living near the Delaware River Basin, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who rely on its pure drinking water each day, will not be ignored.”

The suit alleges that regulations were approved by the Delaware River Basin Commission without a complete environmental impact study.

Industry groups maintain that fracking for natural gas is a safe way to produce a clean alternative to oil and coal.

Image credit: Flickr commons.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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