December 16, 2009
The state is currently collecting public comments on a proposal that would allow a certain type of natural gas drilling upstate, where the city gets its water supply. Now is the time for all New Yorkers—and especially Mayor Michael Bloomberg—to make their voices heard so this plan gets a much more in-depth evaluation before moving forward. Millions of dollars, and the purity of the city’s drinking water, may be on the line.
While natural gas has the potential to be a more environmentally friendly source of fuel, the hydraulic fracturing process—which pumps massive amounts of high-pressure water and chemicals deep into the earth to break shale and release natural gas—merits a lot more investigation. This type of drilling has contaminated drinking wells in other parts of the country, and could pollute the Catskill/Delaware watershed, where New York City gets its drinking water. Should our water supply, renowned as one of the cleanest in the country, become contaminated, the city would have to build an expensive
filtration plant. This is a risk we cannot afford to undertake.
To date, local elected officials like State Sen. Tom Duane and Borough President Scott Stringer have done an admirable job pushing for the city to have a voice in this critical debate. But the time for public comment will end Dec. 31. That is why the mayor must weigh in on this issue, and do it soon. Although the city does not have a role in determining drilling regulations, the state does, and we hope Bloomberg will encourage Gov. David Paterson and the Department of Environmental Conservation, which is currently drafting drilling rules, to take a hard look at this issue and err on the side of caution.
All New Yorkers can and should chime in on this issue, and we urge readers to cut out the letter below and mail it to City Hall. The sanctity of the city’s water supply is too important to gamble on.