The federal government is being sued for allowing natural gas drilling, which involves the potentially harmful "fracking" technique, without conducting a full environmental review. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit yesterday that seeks to compel federal agencies to conduct an environmental review before the regulations authorizing gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin are finalized. Obviously, this goes against the gas industry's motto of "frack first, question later."

The fracking process involves injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water into shale rock, releasing trapped gas. Unfortunately it's not just the gas that gets shaken loose; the water that was injected into the rock eventually resurfaces, and is often polluted with carcinogenic chemicals. "The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so. The welfare of those living near the Delaware River Basin, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who rely on its pure drinking water each day, will not be ignored," Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement. "

The lawsuit comes in the midst of mounting opposition to fracking throughout New York State, and weeks after a well blew out at a Pennsylvania gas drilling site, contaminating local waterways with thousands of gallons of drilling fluids. Schneiderman points out that 58 percent of the land area of New York City's West-of-Hudson watershed is within the Delaware River Basin, and that portion of the watershed provides most of the drinking water used by over nine million New York residents and visitors.

His lawsuit maintains that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies must conduct a full review of the impact of the proposed natural gas development regulations. And Schneiderman has the backing of his predecessor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who last week said he "wants state officials to fully understand what hydrofracking is, before the controversial form of natural gas extraction is approved in New York." For more on fracking and how it could affect you, here's awesome actor and upstate resident Mark Ruffalo:

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