Riverkeeper echoes call for drilling ban

Environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper called on Governor Paterson on Friday to designate the New York City Watershed permanently “off-limits” for natural gas drilling. 
“Riverkeeper agrees with the state’s decision to update its outdated environmental review for gas drilling in New York’s portion of the vast Marcellus Shale formation. The state must take the logical next step and enact a ban on gas drilling in the NYC Watershed,” said Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper Policy Director.
According to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the entire West-of-Hudson portion of the NYC Watershed sits on top of the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation containing natural gas that underlies portions of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other states. To extract the natural gas from the shale, oil companies would inject toxic chemicals, sand, and up to one million gallons of water under high pressure into shale formations. This toxic brew would then be extracted, or leaked to the surface, potentially posing a risk of contaminating local groundwater, and the city’s drinking water reservoirs.
In 1997, New York State, Riverkeeper and numerous other parties signed the historic NYC Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) which recognized that clean drinking water is vital to the health, social and economic well-being of all New Yorkers and must be protected. 
“The state must honor its commitment in the MOA to protect this critical resource, which supplies half the state’s population with unfiltered drinking water on a daily basis.  It is our duty to safeguard this water supply for all current and future generations,” said James L. Simpson, staff attorney with Riverkeeper’s Watershed Program. “If gas drilling contaminates the reservoirs, New York’s filtration avoidance determination (FAD) would be put at risk, potentially costing the city $10 billion to build a filtration plant,” said Simpson.
“It’s important to look for new and alternative sources of energy, but not at the expense of drinking water quality, not at the expense of New York’s watershed areas and not at the expense of city taxpayers to the tune of billions of dollars,” said New York City Councilman James Gennaro, City Council Environmental Protection Committee chair, stated at a press conference on Friday.