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PA lawmakers sue over Delaware River drilling ban

Republican state lawmakers in Pennsylvania are seeking to overturn a ban on gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River basin, filing a federal lawsuit against the regulatory agency that oversees drinking water quality for more than 13 million people.

Senate Republicans led by Sens. Gene Yaw and Lisa Baker claim the Delaware River Basin Commission overstepped its authority and usurped the Legislature with its moratorium on natural gas development near the river and its tributaries.

The senators want a federal court to invalidate the ban, potentially opening a sliver of northeastern Pennsylvania to what their lawsuit describes as $40 billion worth of natural gas. The gas is found in the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s largest gas field, whose vast reserves spurred a drilling boom elsewhere in Pennsylvania more than a decade ago.

A DRBC spokesperson declined comment Tuesday on pending litigation.

Maya van Rossum, who leads the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an environmental watchdog group, accused GOP lawmakers of “carrying the water of the industry,” saying their suit is “an absolute betrayal of trust in terms of their legislative obligation to serve the people of Pennsylvania, not the frackers.”

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