Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Drillilng fever threatens New York City's watershed

Solve Climate: More than half the residents of New York State -- those who live in the Big Apple -- rely on a fabled watershed for their supply of pure, fresh water. Dotted with reservoirs, the watershed is so well protected that none of the water needs to be filtered -- it just cascades through aqueducts, gigantic underground tunnels, a network of mains and pipes and out of the faucets of the nine million residents in the city. That water supply is now in danger of contamination.

It turns out that a big chunk of something called the Marcellus Shale formation sits underneath the 2000 square mile watershed, and trapped inside the formation is a trillion dollars worth of natural gas. Farmers who used to lease the mineral rights to their land for a dollar an acre saw the price rise to $200 an acre, and then over the last year to $2500 an acre. With permits in hand from the state, energy companies are drilling the first wells in New York.

Thank goodness New York City Councilman James F. Gennaro is raising a ruckus with help from Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The bad news is that only four reporters showed up to a press conference they held recently. The good news is that one of them was Peter Applebome of the New York Times. His latest story on "the biggest environmental issue almost no one in New York is paying attention to" ran in the Sunday metro section….

Marcellus Shale bank along Route 174 just south of Slate Hill Road in Marcellus, New York. Shot by Lvklock, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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