Ilya Marritz covers business for WNYC.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is threatening to sue an obscure but powerful intergovernmental agency, saying it's not doing enough to protect the Delaware River basin from the dangers of fracking for natural gas.
The agency in the cross hairs is the Delaware River Basin Commission, which includes representatives of the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware as well as the Army Corps of Engineers, representing the federal government.
The DRBC is charged with managing the river's waters, and keeping them clean and safe. Millions in New York, Philadelphia and smaller cities and towns depend on the Delaware for their drinking water.
Schneiderman said the DRBC skipped an important step when it began writing draft regulations on controversial natural gas drilling, which has been proposed near the headwaters of the Delaware, in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to conduct and environmental review before creating new regulations on activities with the potential to adversely affect health and the environment, Schneiderman said.
"Both the law and common sense dictate that the federal government must fully assess the impact of its actions before opening the door to gas fracking in New York," Schneiderman said.
The attorney general said he's giving the DRBC 30 days to initiate a review or meet him in court.
The DRBC said it has not yet received Schneiderman's letter, and is not commenting at this time.