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Corp of Engineers says it won't do fracking study in N.Y.

By Jessica M. Karmasek | May 27, 2011


ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers told New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week that it would not do a study of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the Delaware River basin.

According to the Elmira Star-Gazette, Schneiderman threatened to sue the federal agency by May 18 if it did not move to halt the rulemaking process for natural gas drilling and hydrofracking, as it is otherwise known, in the basin.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Division Commander Peter DeLuca told the attorney general in a letter Tuesday that he didn't believe the basin's commission was required to do a study under federal law.

"We do not believe that litigation is necessary or an appropriate means to address our shared concerns about the impacts of natural gas production," DeLuca wrote in the letter, obtained by the Star-Gazette.

Schneiderman said in April that the federal government is one of four entities that make up the basin's commission, so it must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and complete a study.

But the Corps argued in its letter to the attorney general that the commission is not a federal agency.

The Attorney General's Office told the Star-Gazette it was finalizing its response to the Corps' position.

Hydraulic fracturing, also referred to simply as fracking, is the process of initiating and propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy.

The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations to increase the extraction and recovery rates of oil and natural gas.

The process is somewhat controversial because of its environmental safety and health concerns.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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