Statement from Speaker Quinn:
I want to thank the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for a common sense decision that will make it a harder for companies to drill in the Catskill/Delaware Watershed, the source of most of New York City’s drinking water. The watershed provides clean drinking water to over 8 million New Yorkers. Drilling for natural gas in the watershed using a risky technique known as hydraulic fracturing could have widespread detrimental environmental and health effects for residents.
Throughout the past year, the Council has been diligently working on the issue of hydrofracking and how the state’s plans to drill for natural gas upstate could contaminate the city’s water supply. In November, of last year this Council passed a resolution calling for a ban on any natural gas drilling in the watershed.
While my colleagues and I are disappointed that the State did not ban drilling in the watershed outright, we applaud this decision as a good first step. We continue to call for the complete prohibition of drilling in the watershed. The risk is too great if we leave the area around the watershed unprotected. We will continue to advocate that drilling is rigorously monitored and regulated where it is allowed, I also join my colleagues in urging Congress to include hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Statement from Environmental Protection Committee Chair James F. Gennaro:
Today’s announcement is the culmination of two years of advocacy by the City Council and other critical stakeholders that the purity of New York City’s priceless and irreplaceable drinking water supply should never be placed at risk for a short-term infusion of natural gas revenues or for any reason. When the City Council started this crusade, precious few understood or cared about the threat to drinking water from hydrofracking. This Council is proud of the role it played in elevating this issue to the national stage and creating a body of work that will be used by local governments throughout the country struggling to preserve their own drinking water supplies. We are pleased that Gov. Paterson and his Administration have done the right thing by putting drinking water purity above gas company profits and we pledge to work with the Paterson Administration to resolve successfully the remaining issues associated with hydrofracking.