Suit seeking to overturn Delaware River basin fracking ban tossed

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Fracking Fluid Management

A federal judge tossed a lawsuit June 11 that sought to overturn the ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin.

The suit, filed by Republican state Sens. Gen Yaw and Lisa Baker, claimed the Delaware River Basin Commission overstepped its authority when it approved a final rule banning fracking in the 13,529 square-mile river basin that covers Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

Judge Paul S. Diamond, of the U.S. Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania, dismissed the suit, saying the plaintiffs did not have standing to file the suit. The claims filed by the lawmakers were dismissed with prejudice.

Diamond said in his 18-page opinion that the plaintiffs did not prove that there was actual injury. He said the dispute “is essentially political and so best resolved by the political branches of government.”

The judge said the suit’s other plaintiffs — four municipalities — also lacked standing, but they were given permission to refile the suit by July 1 to “articulate how the moratorium has actually injured them.”

The Delaware River Basin Commission put a temporary “de facto” moratorium on fracking in place more than a decade ago.

The ban, enacted in late February, primarily impacts the Marcellus Shale gas fields in northeastern Pennsylvania. Seven of the 17 Pennsylvania counties in the Delaware River watershed also sit over the Marcellus Shale formation that stretches diagonally across the state. 

Related content:

Fracking permanently banned in Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Basin

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