A statewide group of pro-drilling landowners is moving forward with a lawsuit against the state as the Department of Environmental Conservation misses a key regulatory deadline in its review of hydraulic fracturing.
In a letter to its members, the president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York said the group is now looking for four people to serve as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which will make a case that New York’s failure to issue shale-gas-drilling permits amounts to an illegal “taking” of their property rights.
“The lawsuit against the state will focus on claims where the failure to grant (high-volume hydrofracking) permits has deprived landowners of all economically viable uses of their real property or interfered with reasonable investment-backed expectations,” Dan Fitzsimmons, the group’s president, wrote in the letter.
The landowners first threatened legal action on Feb. 8, warning the state that it would sue if the DEC misses its Feb. 27 deadline to complete regulations for large-scale fracking. The DEC has signaled it will miss that deadline, but has suggested it may move forward with issuing permits without final regulations in place.
Specifically, the landowners group is seeking plaintiffs that fit into four categories: A property owner who has held mineral rights in the Marcellus or Utica shale regions prior to 2008, another who has a lease with an oil-and-gas company, a third whose land has already had a gas well on it and a fourth who is a vacant property owner.
Here’s the full letter, which is being sent to all of the JLC’s members:
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