Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

In The State We Trust November 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — arthurjamesiii @ 12:40 am

Where are the millions of gallons of water going to come from to drill just one horizontal hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) well in New York? Often times gas companies extract this water from local rivers yet the Court in Illinois Central Railroad Company concluded that the state holds “navigable” waters in trust for the benefit of the public and cannot relinquish their control “except as to such parcels as are used in promoting the interests of the public therein, or can be disposed of without any substantial impairment of the public interest in the lands and waters remaining.”

While there are large rivers in upstate New York where water may be extracted without substantial impairment of the public interest, there remains a majority of navigable waterways that would be impaired if any significant amount of water was taken. While we as upstate New Yorkers are rich in freshwater, this resource may soon be attacked upon the issuing of permits slated to begin next year. Might the Public Trust doctrine come into play? For now it seems, we can only wait and see…

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