City challenges state over upstate oil drilling

Despite preliminary guidelines released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which declined to ban natural gas drilling inside the New York City watershed, Acting New York City DEC Chair Steven Lawitts says that drilling for natural gas upstate could pollute water for 15 million people, including 9 million in the city.

The cost to the city of treatment facilities to clean water polluted by drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which reaches through Virginia, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, would be $10 billion, roughly the same amount of money the state stands to gain by allowing drilling.

The DEC claims that the method of gas drilling planned has caused "not one instance of drinking water contamination" nationally, but EPA scientists have found that wells near "fracking," or, hydraulic fracturing, sites, in which water and chemicals are injected to break up petrochemical-holding shale, have shown a high rate of chemical contamination. .

The city requested a buffer zone around the upstate watershed which did not appear in the draft report.

Drilling the Marcellus Shale for natural gas was not, until recently, cost-effective, but recent price increases have made it profitable enough for companies to be willing to do it.

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