Saturday, January 2, 2010

And How About the Delaware, NY Times?

Below is an editorial from yesterday's New York Times. Below that is my letter in response.

Hands Off the Watershed

Published: January 1, 2010

New York City has now officially registered its ringing opposition to a proposal by state regulators to allow natural gas drilling in the watershed that supplies drinking water to more than eight million city residents. Albany should amend its proposal and put the area permanently off limits to drilling.

The watershed covers roughly a million acres of farms, forests, lakes and streams northwest of the city. Its subsurface rock formations contain rich deposits of natural gas and are part of a much larger geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale, which runs northward from West Virginia into New York’s southern tier.

The state wants to exploit this resource because it could add to the region’s energy supplies and give a much-needed lift to the upstate economy. But the watershed contains just one-tenth of the state’s known gas deposits. That means New York would not be giving up all that much if it does the right thing and bans drilling there.

Last fall, Albany issued a thick set of rules intended to regulate drilling. Environmentalists and city officials immediately cautioned that while carefully regulated drilling could proceed in other parts of the state with minimal environmental damage, it would be foolish to risk the city’s water supply.

A new report commissioned by the city, and written by scientists and engineers who specialize in gas drilling, confirms those fears. It says that the drilling process — which is done by injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into the rock formations — “creates a substantial risk of chemical contamination and infrastructure damage.” That, in turn, could force the city to build a $10 billion filtration plant and negate the sizable investment it has already made to keep the watershed clean. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is to be commended for commissioning the report and demanding a quick turnaround.

The good news is that the Chesapeake Energy Corporation, believed to be the largest leaseholder in the watershed, has already announced that it will not drill there. But its decision is voluntary and not binding on other companies. The only sure way to guarantee the protection of the watershed, and New York City’s supply of drinking water, is to quarantine the area.


To the Editor:

Your editorial ( HANDS OFF OUR WATERSHED Jan. 2) states a strong position on protecting New York City's water supply from possible contamination by natural gas drilling and hydrofracture. But there is another water resource in New York State that deserves special protection. The Delaware River supplies water to local communities before it becomes a major source of drinking water for Philadelphia and other points south. Numerous leases have been signed by landholders on both banks of a river that has been designated Wild and Scenic by the federal government. The runoff from these potential drilling sites would not only pollute the Delaware's drinking water, it would ruin one of the State's most beautiful recreational venues. Fishing, boating and swimming would become dangerous activities and the visually stunning vistas of this peaceful waterway would be compromised by chemical effluent. Grace van Hulsteyn ,Cochection, NY.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see the Times staying on top of the Marcellus Shale issue. But it's tough to build up support for saving the Delaware. Now if it was the Hudson River that was threatened with being re-polluted, the water spout huggers would be out in full force.