BROOKLYN (CN) – New York State sued five federal agencies in Federal Court, claiming that plans for “natural gas hydrofracking” in the Delaware River Basin could ruin pristine waters that supply more than 9 million New Yorkers with drinking water.
New York sued the Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming they failed to complete an environmental impact statement in connection with a 2010 regulation.
The regulation, promulgated by the Delaware River Basin Commission in December 2010, apparently would allow 15,000 to 18,000 natural gas wells in the river basin. But in Pennsylvania alone, New York says, more than 1,500 violations were logged for the 2,000 wells there in the 2½ years ending in August 2010.
Hydrofracking involves drilling into stone formations at an angle and then pumping millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture the stone, which releases the natural gas.
New York says this presents a grave threat to the Delaware River Basin watershed, which supplies drinking water to 9 million people in New York City, and to other areas.
New York says that a natural gas well blowout in Pennsylvania in April this year released hazardous chemicals into a creek and required the area to be evacuated.
The plan to extract natural gas through hydrofracking in the Delaware Basin undermines a “filtration avoidance” approach that has saved the state money, New York says.
Water from the New York City watershed is so pure it need not be filtered before reaching the taps of millions of residents. By focusing on pollution prevention, New York says it’s been able to save an initial $10 billion investment in a filtration system, which would cost $100 million per year to operate.
In addition to concerns over water quality, New York cites cumulative air pollution impacts of hydrofracking, which include release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
New York’s claims that the Delaware River Basin Commission is a federal agency – an assertion the Army Corps of Engineers denies.
New York demands an environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The Delaware River Basin drains 13,500 square miles in parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware.