Duane: Protect state’s water

Thomas K. Duane

November 30, 2009

To The Editor:

Re “Pols, water activists pour it on for drilling ban” (news article, Nov. 18):

I greatly appreciate The Villager’s ongoing coverage of New York
State’s shortsighted plan to permit natural gas drilling in the
Marcellus Shale and other Upstate regions and the impact that this
industrial activity would have on New York City’s water supply.

Protecting the city’s watershed is absolutely imperative. However, we
must not overlook the other water supplies in and around the Marcellus
Shale — including the Delaware River watershed, which serves much of
the Catskills — that would also be threatened by horizontal drilling
and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation must
establish a no-risk policy that protects not just New York City’s
watershed, but all water supplies throughout the state, including
aquifers and even private wells. We are one New York, and city
residents must stand up for New Yorkers across the state to protect
all our sources of drinking water from the very real dangers posed by
this method of industrial gas drilling.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation’s announcement that it will not drill
for natural gas within New York City’s watershed is a welcome
commitment, but it is by no means sufficient to protect this
watershed, let alone the other water supplies located in the Marcellus
Shale formation. Voluntary measures by the industry are no substitute
for strong government regulation eliminating the very real risk of
contamination to New York’s drinking water.

This is why, in addition to voicing my concerns to D.E.C. and urging
my constituents to do the same, I am sponsoring legislation in the New
York State Senate (S6244) that would prohibit gas drilling in and
around the New York City watershed, the Delaware River watershed and
any recharge area for a sole-source aquifer. The bill would also
establish legal and financial penalties for drilling accidents and
includes provisions to protect all water supplies statewide.

It is essential that all stakeholders, from individual residents to
environmental advocates to community-based organizations to my
colleagues in government, work together to ensure that we do not move
forward with plans for natural gas drilling without adequate
protections for our precious natural resources.  Anything less would
be a disservice to all New Yorkers.

Thomas K. Duane

Duane is state senator, 29th District