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As Fracking Ban Nears, Gas Industry Prepares Legal Action


As the state Department of Environmental Conservation prepares to put the rubber stamp on a ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing, representatives from the oil and gas industry say they’re preparing to take legal action.

At a press conference in Albany, the American Petroleum Institute’s Karen Moreau told reporters she’s been in touch with attorneys both within her ogranization and outside counsel that’s “very skilled with respect to the process in New York.”

This comes as the DEC prepares to release its Findings Statement on the natural gas drilling process. The statement is expected to contain language that institutes an all-out ban on fracking in New York.

The statement is based on the department’s environmental review of fracking, the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. That review, released last month, contained analysis from the DEC that suggested fracking would pose a risk to the environment and health of adjacent homeowners.

There’s no deadline for the DEC to issue its Findings Statement, though its expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Moreau says her organization and the companies it represents have been exploring legal options leading up to that release.

“Our attorneys have already evaluated the body of evidence that’s already there, and we need to look at this,” Moreau said, “and our companies will actually direct – we know what they want us as an organization to do.”

Moreau says the fracking ban represents a major profit loss for companies, as well as property owners.

“The property owners,” Moreau said. “They’re looking at the loss of their property rights.”

That’s referring to leases gas companies signed with residents before the state issued its moratorium on fracking in 2010. Moreau says that could prompt lawsuits from individual companies as well.

“And the individual companies that have invested here, many of whom invested millions of dollars in signed leases that have expired,” Moreau said. “They also will make decisions whether they want to sue individually as companies.”

Much of that will depend on the language involved in the state’s ultimate ban on fracking. Advocates, including Moreau, are hoping a review from the EPA last week on fracking will have an impact.

That review said there’s been no significant evidence that fracking has caused any widespread damage to drinking water.

It did indicate, however, that there are “potential vulnerabilities” to water supplies that could be traced back to waste generated by the gas-drilling process.