News > News > Chesapeake Energy Takes a Step in the Right Direction by Choosing Not to Drill in the NYC Watershed

Chesapeake Energy Takes a Step in the Right Direction by Choosing Not to Drill in the NYC Watershed

Ashokan Resevoir

Photo Credit: G.Chambers
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October 28, 2009

Contacts: James Simpson, Staff Attorney (917) 952-2158
Craig Michaels, Watershed Program Director (917) 579-5582


Riverkeeper Urges State to Permanently Put Watershed Off Limits to Industrial Gas Drilling

White Plains, NY – October 28, 2009 – In the wake of Chesapeake Energy’s decision not to drill for natural gas on leased land within the New York City Watershed, Riverkeeper today renewed its call on State to permanently prohibit industrial gas drilling in the Watershed. In September, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its draft environmental impact statement on gas drilling as part of the statewide environmental review process. But DEC’s plans failed to include adequate safeguards to protect state drinking water supplies.

In recognition that the Chesapeake leases will expire within the next 5 years, and other companies still can acquire rights to drill, Riverkeeper used the occasion of Chesapeake’s announcement to renew its call for a permanent ban on industrial gas drilling in ecologically sensitive areas such as the New York City Watershed and the Catskills region as a whole. The DEC’s position that industrial gas drilling is compatible with a surface water drinking water supply is simply untenable.

“Chesapeake is to be applauded for acknowledging that industrial gas drilling in a surface water supply that provides drinking water to fifteen million of the region’s residents is a bad idea,” said Riverkeeper president Alex Matthiessen. “But if Mr. McClendon is serious about protecting the Catskill/Delaware Watershed, he’ll join our call for a permanent ban. Only a permanent ban will safeguard our drinking water from the threat of drilling over time.”

“When the gas drilling industry says it won’t drill within the source of drinking water for 9 million people, it sends a strong message to State regulators that this activity is inappropriate,” said James L. Simpson, Staff Attorney with Riverkeeper. “It’s now up to State officials to do the right thing and recognize, as Chesapeake has, that industrial gas drilling has no place in the New York City Watershed.”

Riverkeeper also calls on New York State to mandate the most stringent environmental safeguards and best management practices for any and all drilling operations throughout New York State. Environmental organizations agree that the State’s recent draft EIS fell short of proposing proper safeguards for hydraulic fracturing.


ABOUT RIVERKEEPER: Riverkeeper is an environmental watchdog organization whose mission is to protect the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and to safeguard the drinking water supply of New York City and the lower Hudson Valley. For more information, please visit

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