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Catskill Center Commends DEC Determination on Gas Drilling
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development lauds the announcement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to require individual environmental reviews for high-volume horizontal drilling in unfiltered, surface drinking-water supply areas. The announcement, by DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, excludes the New York City and the Skaneateles Watersheds from the pending Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which will address potential adverse impacts associated with this type of drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation. Applications for drilling permits within the NYC and Skaneateles Watersheds will instead be reviewed on a separate case-by-case basis due to the special circumstances associated with these unfiltered surface water supplies. These water supplies have been granted filtration avoidance determinations (FADs) because they have demonstrated compliance with more stringent water-quality protection measures. “DEC will work closely with the state Department of Health, the local watershed communities, and with the cities benefiting from the FADs to develop the additional drilling requirements that may be applicable in the FAD watersheds” the announcement concludes.
As a signatory to the Memorandum of Agreement (Watershed Agreement between New York City, Upstate Watershed Communities, and other partners), the Catskill Center recognizes both the environmentally sensitive nature of West-of-Hudson NYC Watershed and the need to consider qualified economic opportunities. In support of the recent measure, Alan White, the Catskill Center’s Executive Director, said: “It is clear the DEC understands the delicate balance between protecting watersheds where filtration avoidance waivers are in effect and affording landowners and businesses the ability to address risks associated with new drilling technologies.” He added, “As the critical issue of gas drilling in the NYC Watershed and throughout the Catskill Region continues to develop, the Catskill Center will be engaged in the process and will keep local and regional stakeholders informed.”