Chesapeake Energy Says It Will Not Drill in New York City Watershed

Environmental advocates join city officials in asking company to back up promise, transfer leases to city


Kathleen Sutcliffe, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 235


Following widespread concern about impacts to drinking water, Chesapeake Energy has announced that it will not drill for natural gas in the New York City watershed. Chesapeake, with 5,000 leased acres, is reportedly the only company with drilling leases in the watershed.

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 and natural resources.

The following is a statement from Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg:

“We’ve said all along that drilling in the New York City watershed is a terrible idea. The toxic chemicals used in the process could too easily end up contaminating the drinking water supply for some nine million people. We’re glad to hear that Chesapeake Energy understands the risk and has promised not to drill in this area.

“We’re calling on Chesapeake Energy to back up this promise by transferring its leases to the City of New York for the price of $1. After the transfer, the State should ban drilling in the New York City Watershed. That way, we can make sure this protection is permanent. Otherwise, these leases could be sold to other drilling companies that won’t keep the promise.

“We’re also calling on the Governor and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure that all New Yorkers are kept safe from the toxic chemicals used in the drilling. The DEC needs to adopt transparent, consistently applied, state-of-the-art, and enforceable regulations – instead of the toothless, piecemeal permitting approach outlined in the environmental review unveiled last month. 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.” 

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