Letter to Governor Paterson & Commissioner Grannis: Ban Natural Gas Drilling

                                                                                              January 27, 2010


Honorable David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Honorable Alexander B. Grannis
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway, 14th Floor
Albany, New York 12233


Dear Governor Paterson and Commissioner Grannis,

In light of  the January 26, 2010 Joint Budget Hearing with the Finance Committee and Environmental Conservation Committee, it is with mounting concern that I write to you regarding natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and its impact on the New York City Watershed.  I believe it is imperative that the Department of Environmental Conservation conduct a new study of the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing. We have seen the hazardous effects of natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, in Pennsylvania where residents’ well water became contaminated with methane resulting in combustible wells. New York State cannot allow this drilling to take place without a better understanding and more stringent guidelines in place.

There have been rising concerns that New York State will not be able to handle the wastewater that will be generated by the drilling. There is also controversy surrounding the fluids that are used during the hydraulic fracturing process. Many oil and gas companies do not disclose the fluids that they use, or the deleterious health consequences that they pose. We must mandate that any company that drills for natural gas in New York, disclose the fluids that they use. Though there are many economic benefits to this resource, we cannot simply let those benefits trump the hazards that exist.

We must ban natural gas drilling in New York City’s Watershed. Though the current leaseholder, Chesapeake Energy Corporation has agreed to not drill in the watershed, that decision is not binding, nor does it prevent future leaseholders from drilling. I believe we need to take firm action now and ban drilling in New York City’s Watershed. Not only could possible contamination of the watershed pose immense health risks to our constituents, but it could also cost the City of New York almost $9 billion to build a filtration plant. That is a price that our constituents cannot afford to pay.

I urge you to reconsider allowing natural gas drilling until we can be certain that it will be done in a way that poses no risk to the health of our constituents or the environment.  I look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Respectfully yours,

Senator Bill Perkins
30th Senate District

Cc: New York State Senate
      New York State Assembly
      New York City Council