Bloomberg Backs Fracking - But Far From City's Water Supply

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to fracking as a way of extracting natural gas from upstate New York — but said it shouldn't occur near the network of reservoirs that feed drinking water to the city.

The mayor's remarks come as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to release regulations on the natural gas drilling technique for New York state.

The mayor has had a slight change in tone on the controversial practice, recently emphasizing the upsides of natural gas as a form of clean energy, rather than the possible downsides from environmental damage.

Still, the mayor doesn't want fracking done anywhere near the city's upstate reservoirs. "If you were to contaminate some groundwater that's not drinking water, that's very different than if you contaminate the drinking water for eight million people," he rationalized.

Many upstate New Yorker rely not on reservoirs for drinking water, but on drinking wells fed by underground aquifers. Bloomberg said he had no position on what effect, if any, fracking could have on that water supply.

The mayor released a study this week that found that additional gas supply and infrastructure upgrades are needed to meet the city’s growing demand.

“This study confirms its importance to New York City’s reliable, clean energy future and demonstrates that with responsible, well-regulated development, we can make the investments that both improve our air quality and save lives,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Ilya Marritz contributed reporting