** Updated at 7 p.m. to add related stories and reaction from enviro groups**
A federal judge has rejected New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's lawsuit seeking to force a full environmental review before the Delaware River Basin Commission allows natural gas drilling in a watershed that provides drinking water for millions of New Yorkers (and millions more in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware).
The Associated Press reported this afternoon that:.
"U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn ruled Monday in favor of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. He said the lawsuit filed last year by Schneiderman was speculative, because the commission hasn't adopted final regulations yet. Garaufis noted that there will be plenty of time to file lawsuits after the regulations are adopted.
See the full AP story here.Environmental organizations react to the ruling
“The judge’s decision recognized and validated the tremendous concerns over threatened gas drilling for the Delaware River, our organizations and communities — that he found he could not render a final judicial opinion at this time does not diminish his acknowledgement that gas drilling is a major threat to this region, and that the actions of the agencies involved should be the subject of judicial review,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. ”Of great importance, the judge did not side with agency efforts to simply and cavalierly set aside the role of the courts or the public in reviewing what the agencies are up to on this precedent setting matter.
“Riverkeeper is disappointed that the court concluded it was premature to decide whether DRBC and the Army Corps are required to conduct an environmental review of its proposed gas drilling regulations before finalizing them,” said Kate Hudson, Hudson Riverkeeper Watershed Program Director. “However, we are pleased that the court’s decision allows Riverkeeper to challenge these regulations if and when DRBC ends the moratorium and votes to put the regulations in place. The court emphasized that it is available and more than capable of stopping well development before any fracking wastewater is created if DRBC proceeds in a manner contrary to the law. Riverkeeper fully intends to sue again and ask the court to take such action if DRBC puts at risk the drinking water for millions of New Yorkers by opening the Delaware River Basin to drilling without completing a full environmental review.”
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