A group of pro-gas drilling landowners from upstate New York filed a lawsuit Friday against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seeking to compel the state to complete its review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
A de facto moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been in effect since the state Department of Environmental Conservation began a review of the practice in 2008. And the state Department of Health has been conducting its own health review of fracking since the fall of 2012. Whether the state will grant fracking permits depends on the outcome of both reviews.
The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which represents over 70,000 people spread over 14 counties, said in its lawsuit that Mr. Cuomo has overstepped his authority by becoming involved with both fracking reviews conducted by the DEC and DOH. Mr. Cuomo's involvement has been politically motivated, the complaint said.
"The major reasoning behind this is that we have been at the process for over a half decade," Scott Kurkoski, an attorney for the coalition. The governor has delayed both reviews because "he is worried about how people will react to this issue."
Mr. Cuomo's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The DOH and its Commissioner Nirav Shah along with the DEC and its commissioner Joseph Martens were also named in the complaint. A DEC spokeswoman said the department didn't comment on pending legislation. A spokesman with the DOH didn't immediately return a requests for comment.
As an alternative to compelling the state to complete its fracking review, the landowners are asking for a hearing and jury trial that would require Mr. Shah and Mr. Martens to testify. The petitioners are also seeking to subpoena all records related to the fracking review from the DEC and DOH and the governor's office under that alternative scenario.