A large group of New York property owners have filed suit against Governor Andrew Cuomo, demanding that the state concludes its five-year-long assessment of whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The group, called the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (“JLCNY”), alleges the state has unjustifiably delayed the review process, making it impossible for the landowners “to develop the lucrative deposits of shale gas lying within their properties.”
Fracking operations within the state have been on hold since 2008, when New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) began evaluating the environmental effects of shale gas development. Upon the DEC’s request, the Department of Health (“DOH”) initiated its own related study in 2012. The state has refused to issue fracking permits until both evaluations are completed.
The JLCNY, which is comprised of more than 70,000 people, contends that the court should order the state to finalize its fracking review immediately, because neither the DEC nor the DOH have legal justification for the prolonged delays. Moreover, the group contends the DEC lacked the authority to ask the DOH to commence its 2012 study.
Governor Cuomo is accused of unlawfully interfering with both agencies’ reviews. JLCNY President said in a statement, “It is apparent to the world that Governor Cuomo is dragging out the. . . process for his political purposes instead of focusing on his upstate New York constituents, many of whom struggle to survive the worst economic conditions in our nation.” If the court does not order the immediate resolution of New York’s fracking review, the petitioners have requested a hearing and jury trial, which would include an attempt by the JLCNY to subpoena state records concerning the review.
The suit, known as Joint Landowners Coalition of New York et al. v. Andrew M. Cuomo et al., was filed in the New York Supreme Court for the County of Albany this past Friday. Click here, here, and here for additional commentary. The North American Shale Blog will continue to provide updates about this case as it unfolds.