Driller: No Plans for Wells in Catskills

About a week after you read it on The Fly Line, the New York Times reports on Chesapeake Energy’s withdrawal of its plan to draw water from the West Branch of the Delaware River for hydro-fracture natural gas wells.

The Times said the company “will not drill for natural gas within the upstate New York watershed,” as though there was only one watershed in upstate New York. Context suggests the Old Grey Lady means the Delaware, Esopus and Schoharie watersheds, which supply the city with much of its drinking water.

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon told the paper, “We are not going to develop those leases, and we are not taking any more leases, and I don’t think anybody else in the industry would dare to acquire leases in the New York City watershed.”

Geography mistakes aside, McClendon’s comments appear to signal that the Esopus, Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Schoharie, Neversink and branches of the Delaware, along with their tributaries, will be safe from ruinous withdrawals and contamination by the natural gas industry. That is very good news.

Unfortunately, the rest of New York, not to mention Pennsylvania and West Virginia, isn’t lucky enough to be the source of water for New York City. McClendon made clear it will be drill, baby, drill everywhere else.

McClendon also told the Times that Chesapeake plans to reveal the make-up of the “fracking fluid” that will be used to break up shale a mile underground and free up the gas. Dick Cheney (yes, the same Dick Cheney that will be the guest of honor at the American Museum of Fly Fishing’s annual dinner in Washington, D.C. Nov. 12) got the natural gas industry exempted from disclosing the dangerous chemicals in fracking fluid back in 2005. But now, “The industry is moving quickly to complete disclosure,” McClendon told the Times.

As I’ve written elsewhere, knowing what’s in the fracking fluid is about the same as knowing the caliber of the gun pointing between your eyes.

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