Ban Natural Gas Drilling in New York's Drinking Water Supply Areas

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Subject: Ban Natural Gas Drilling in New York's Drinking Water Supply Areas

Governor David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Paterson:

I oppose natural gas drilling within or near any of New York State's drinking water supplies and call for a ban on such a practice. This includes but is not limited to New York City's pristine million-acre watershed in the Catskill Mountains west of the Hudson River, which provides 90 percent of the drinking water for over nine million New Yorkers. Such a ban should apply to local watersheds and ground water sources all over the state, where New Yorkers get their tap water from local reservoirs and wells.

For reasons outlined below, gas drilling in our watersheds and near our aquifers would put our most precious and protected natural resource -- clean, pure drinking water -- at severe risk of contamination and as such is environmentally unsustainable. At a time when New York is facing record budget deficits and a nationwide recession, this activity is also economically unsustainable, as the resultant filtering and monitoring would cost New York's government and taxpayers billions of dollars.

It is the belief of environmental experts and some policymakers, including New York City Council Environmental Protection Committee Chairman James F. Gennaro, that the particular drilling method that would be used, called "hydraulic fracturing" or "hydrofracking," involves inherently polluting industrial substances and processes that cannot be controlled and contained reliably. In Wyoming and New Mexico, this type of drilling has led to groundwater contamination despite concerted efforts to safeguard against it. If gas drilling were allowed in or near any drinking water supply in the State -- even with the highest level of safeguards -- the potential for significant contamination would remain.

Environmental advocates like Chairman Gennaro and former NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Al Appleton, as well as environmental organizations throughout New York state, all argue that gas drilling within the New York City watershed will place that water supply's federal exemption from filtering in jeopardy, putting the taxpayers of New York City in the position of having to pay $20 billion or more for a filtration plant that may not even be able to remove all contaminants used in hydrofracking. New Yorkers cannot afford the environmental and economic consequences of the pollution of their water supplies. I hereby request the protection of New York's drinking water by way of a formal ban on any kind of natural gas drilling, particularly hydrofracking, in or within contaminating distance of any of New York's surface or underground water supplies.

I know that you share my deep concern for keeping New York's drinking water clean, safe and affordable. In my opinion, a ban on natural gas drilling in our state's drinking water supplies is the only option to ensure the continued integrity of our water system. I join Chairman Gennaro and other advocates in calling upon you to adopt and enact this fiscally and environmentally responsible policy immediately, and await your favorable reply.


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