It’s a shocking upset for environmental activists and all New Yorkers. A new set of proposed guidelines for fracking in New York State would allow drilling within 1,000 feet of underground tunnels that carry 1.2 billion gallons of water a day to NYC. Despite studies showing the devastating effects fracking has on the environment and the dangers it poses to the water supply, the state might approve the new rules within the coming months.
Although the guidelines do allow drilling near water supply infrastructure, a site specific environmental review will be required when drilling within 1,000 feet. Many, however, believe that it won’t be enough to protect fracking from poisoning NYC’s aqueducts.
“There needs to be a buffer area in which there’s no drilling whatsoever,” said Kate Sinding, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in a report by Prorebulica. “Just having elevated review doesn’t cut it.”
Sinding is not alone. Many NYC politicians have also voiced their concern about the proposal. NY state Attorney General Eric Schnelderman filed a lawsuit last month against the federal government for failing to conduct an environmental review on the dangers of fracking.
At the center of the controversy are the half-century old water supply tunnels, which are already prone to leaking. They are surrounded by brittle rock that can easily shift and put pressure on the already fragile tunnels if drilling occurs. Drilling mistakes are not unheard of and have already caused contamination in Pennsylvania.