Judge dismisses lawsuits challenging fracking delay by Jon Campbell, July 14, 2014, Lohud The Journal News
A state judge on Monday dismissed a pair of lawsuits that sought to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration into deciding whether to authorize shale-gas drilling in New York. The Binghamton-based Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and Mark Wallach, the trustee for Norse Energy, separately sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of his administration last year, arguing that Cuomo has acted based on politics — not science — in delaying a decision on whether to allow large-scale hydraulic fracturing.
The lawsuits were dismissed, however, because neither the landowners group nor the gas company suffered any environmental harm, McDonough ruled. The state’s review of fracking, which was first launched six years ago, is guided by the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which requires an extensive analysis when a government action could have an impact on the environment.
“(The Joint Landowners Coalition has) not alleged that they will suffer any form of environmental harm as a result of (the state’s) actions/inactions relative to the (review) process,” McDonough wrote. “The three claims in the petition/complaint, and all of petitioners’ other submissions, make clear that the potential injuries are solely economic in nature.”
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office represented Cuomo’s administration in the court proceeding, praised the judge’s decision. “The court’s decision to allow the state review of hydrofracking risks to continue is an important victory in our effort to ensure all New Yorkers have safe water to drink and a clean, healthy environment,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Thomas West, an Albany-based attorney representing Wallach, said he would “likely” appeal the decision. [Emphasis added]
Court dismisses challenges to NY fracking review by Mary Esch, Associated Press, July 14, 2014, Seattlepi.com
A judge has dismissed two lawsuits challenging the state’s delay in finishing its health and environmental analysis of the potential impact of shale gas development in New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, claiming 70,000 members, and the trustee of bankrupt Norse Energy. State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough dismissed both lawsuits, saying the petitioners did not have standing to sue Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Health Department to compel completion of the review.
Schneiderman called the decision “an important victory in our effort to ensure all New Yorkers have safe water to drink and a clean, healthy environment.”
The lawsuits claimed the Department of Environmental Conservation had abused its discretion in delaying completion of its environmental review so the Democratic governor could avoid making the politically complicated decision to allow or ban fracking.
Scott Kurkoski, attorney for the landowners’ coalition, said an appeal is likely. “Landowners have been prevented from using an environmental resource,” Kurkoski said in a statement. “These are fundamental property rights that cannot be denied by a court.” The landowners are also represented by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Lakeland, Colorado, that claims to support individual property rights and limited government. [Emphasis added]