By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- A lawsuit that sought to force a study of the environmental impacts of gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin was tossed by a federal judge this week.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued a variety of federal agencies last year, arguing that the Delaware River Basin Commission was required by law to undertake a comprehensive environmental analysis before issuing regulations that would allow hydraulic fracturing in the river's watershed.
But U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis ruled Monday in favor of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency, deciding that Schneiderman's lawsuit was filed too early and was speculative in nature.
A proposed set of regulations for hydrofracking in the basin have been stalled for months, and a moratorium has remained in place in the meantime.
"Plaintiffs appear to believe that, if Defendants are not forced to comply with NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) now, their interests will be placed at risk immediately," Garaufis wrote. "But that is not the case. The courts will be available if and when the DRBC adopts final regulations permitting natural gas development."
The Delaware River Basin Commission is a partnership among the federal government and the river's four watershed states -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Delaware River watershed covers most of Delaware County and a small portion of eastern Broome County in New York.
Schneiderman's office declined comment.