A coalition of anti-fracking groups is pushing back against a lawsuit filed against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, with a spokesman calling the legal challenge “ridiculous.”
The bankruptcy trustee for Norse Energy USA, a defunct subsidiary of a Norwegian oil-and-gas company, filed court papers in state Supreme Court in Albany late Tuesday, asking the court to force Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation to issue a decision on whether high-volume fracking can proceed in New York.
John Armstrong, a spokesman for Frack Action and the coalition group New Yorkers Against Fracking, said the lawsuit ignores the potential for negative environmental impacts.
“Norse Energy’s ridiculous lawsuit shows the gas industry’s willful denial of the harms of fracking and its disregard for public well-being,” Armstrong said in a statement. “It’s a sad attempt from a failed international company to ignore the health impacts and the significant, growing body of evidence demonstrating that fracking contaminates water and poisons the air.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation first launched its fracking review nearly 5 1/2 years ago, while a separate analysis by state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah began in September 2012. High-volume fracking remains on hold in New York until that work is finalized.
Norse, the Erie County-based subsidiary of a Norwegian energy company, still holds the lease to about 130,000 acres of oil-and-gas rights in New York, with much of it in the Marcellus Shale formation that stretches across the state’s Southern Tier. The company had hoped to cash in on a potential New York gas-drilling boom but went out of business earlier this year, with the lawsuit arguing that the state’s lengthy decision-making process “obliterated” the value of its assets.
West had threatened the court action for the past two weeks after he sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens demanding a timetable for the release of his agency’s review, known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement or SGEIS.
The suit was filed a day after Cuomo and Shah declined to put a timeline on when the health review would be completed, with Cuomo telling reporters he doesn’t want to put any “undue pressure” on Shah. The health commissioner said he was “withholding his recommendation” until he was “comfortable with the state of the science.”