Following widespread concern about impacts to drinking water, New York State announced today it was excluding the New York City and Syracuse watersheds from the Department of Environmental Conservation's ongoing generic environmental review of industrial gas drilling.
At issue is the controversial process for stimulating the production of gas, known as hydraulic fracturing. The technique, in which drilling companies inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth, has raised concerns about impacts to drinking water, rural communities, and natural resources.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:
"We've said all along that drilling in these watersheds is a terrible idea. Erosion, unavoidable spills, and migration of toxic chemicals could too easily end up contaminating the drinking water supply for millions of people. Unfortunately, the State has not taken the New York City and Syracuse watersheds off the table. DEC is just removing them from the environmental review process it is using for the rest of the state.
"Even if the practical effect is to stop development of the Marcellus Shale in these limited areas, we need to make sure there are across-the-board standards that will protect all New Yorkers from the health threats posed by industrial gas drilling.
"We're calling on the Governor and DEC to make sure that all New Yorkers are kept safe. The DEC needs to adopt transparent, consistently applied, state-of-the-art, enforceable regulations -- instead of meeting with industry behind-the-scenes to negotiate permit conditions, which is what the state has proposed. Until those regulations are in place, there should be no drilling in the Marcellus Shale anywhere in the State.
"At stake is the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the scenic landscapes that feed our spirit. Before the rigs move in from Texas, we need to make sure these precious resources and the health of our communities are protected."