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Tough Rules for Gas Drilling in NYC Watershed

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New York City officials opposed to natural gas drilling have scored a victory with Albany regulators.

The state's Department of Environmental Conservation says it will require closer scrutiny of plans to drill for natural gas in the New York City and Syracuse watershed regions that rely on unfiltered surface sources for drinking water.

The action sets a high hurdle for any energy company seeking to drill in those areas.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement that case-by-case environmental reviews "must now be conducted as part of any plan to explore natural gas drilling in these watersheds." They said that the city has invested $1.5 billion in watershed protection programs to ensure New Yorkers’ water remains unfiltered.

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis says the state will continue to work on a less stringent set of regulations governing gas exploration in the rest of the Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches from the Catskills through the Southern Tier.

Grannis says there are 58 pending permit applications in the Marcellus Shale, but none are in the watersheds. Drilling has been on hold while new regulations are being developed, a process expected to be completed this fall.