Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hydraulic Fracturing, the Marcellus Shale, and the threat to New York City's Watershed

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project has made it very easy for New York residents to make comments to the DEC about hydraulic fracturing. Comments will be accepted through December 15th, so act now!

Hydraulic fracturing is a drilling technique for gas and oil, which environmentalists fear can contaminate groundwater sources. New York still regulates hydraulic fracturing, unlike many other states, and unlike the federal government, which in 2005 exempted the process from regulation by the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.

But that is not to say the state disallows hydraulic fracturing, and New York City's upstate watershed sits atop part of the Marcellus Shale, which is a giant natural gas formation 6 to 8 thousand feet below ground, stretching from Western New York State to West Virginia. Recent technological advancements (including in hydraulic fracturing) have made the Marcellus Shale within the realm of exploitation, and drilling companies have become active in the region. New York's Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, recently issued a consumer alert, warning upstate landowners about "landmen" -- agents for oil and gas exploration companies using "strong- arm tactics" in trying to secure leases for drilling.

Any drilling in New York State would be contingent on passing an environmental impact statement. Nonetheless, the fear is that drilling in the watershed will imperil the city's famed municipal water. The New York based environmental group Riverkeeper and The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter are lobbying to declare the portion of the Marcellus Shale that is within the City's Watershed to be off-limits to drilling.

Some people to contact to ban drilling in the NYC Watershed:

Governor Patterson through his secretary: 518-474-8390 or by email.

Councilman James Gennaro, Chair of the New York City Council's
Environmental Committee: 212-788-6956 or by email.

Your City Council Member

Links:

The Marcellus Shale

The Oil and Gas Accountability Project has made it very easy for New York residents to make comments to the DEC about hydraulic fracturing. Comments will be accepted through December 15th, so act now!

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