Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Letter To Chesapeake Energy Re: Marcellus Shale

Welcome to Gracenomics. I'm opening with the theme of drilling in New York's and Pennsylvania's gas-rich Marcellus Shale. Recently, one of the major industry players, Chesapeake Energy, announced that it would not be doing any development within the New York City watershed, although it is the sole gas leaseholder of properties there. The announcement was taken by many city dwellers as an admission that hydrofracking poses a danger to drinking water. Today, Mayor Bloomberg joined the rising throngs opposing its use. I give grudging credit to Chesapeake for helping to bring that about.

Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia and other mayors should be urged to oppose fracking wherever their communities' water supply may be at risk. Here's what I wrote to Chesapeake's CEO last week:

"December 11, 2009

Mr. Aubrey McClendon
Chesapeake Energy Corporation
Post Office Box 18496
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73154-0496

Dear Mr. McClendon:

As a part-time resident of New York City, I was very happy to learn that Chesapeake Energy voluntarily decided not to drill for natural gas in the City’s watershed, owing to concerns about water contamination. As you know, you are several steps greener than our Department of Environmental Conservation in that regard.

I am also a part-time resident of Sullivan County, New York, below the watershed but less than two miles, as the bird flies and the water flows, from the Upper Delaware River. Next door to me is a hunting parcel that has been leased to Chesapeake-Appalachia LLC, which I take to be a wholly-owned Chesapeake Energy subsidiary. Most of the groundwater on the particular parcel flows across and under mine, as it does those of my lateral neighbors, and, during seasonal flooding, it gushes without any filtration into the Delaware. I have personally tracked it doing so. I surmise that the same can be said of the water on and under virtually any property in this hilly, wet region that is within a few short miles of the river on either side.

I am concerned, of course, for my own water well in the event that natural gas drilling takes place next to me. But the river itself provides drinking water, I’m told, to some 18 million people, even more than the New York watershed does. Philadelphia is just now waking up to the possibility of contamination from gas drilling. You would win millions more fans if you would make the same pledge to them that you made to Gotham.

The Delaware, of course, is vital not only as a drinking water source but as a federally designated Wild and Scenic River and a recreational resource. I would like to propose a protection zone from drilling of three to five miles from the river’s edge, and hope you would find such a gesture appealing and worthwhile. Wishing you success in your commercial ventures and your pro-environment initiatives, I am

Sincerely yours,"

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