Delaware County IDA chief calls watershed drilling ban "property rights theft"

Map of area showing a proposed ban on gas drilling in or near NYC watershed land and infrastructure.

Above: A map of areas that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is seeking to place off-limits to gas drilling, in upcoming regulations by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Last week's member email from the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce included a link to a fiery op-ed from Jim Thomson, who chairs the county's Industrial Development Agency.

The topic? A proposed ban on drilling in New York City's unfiltered watershed, which also includes a 4000-foot buffer zone, and possibly buffers of several miles around the underground tunnels that deliver drinking water to the city. The ban on drilling in unfiltered watersheds (and near primary aquifers) is included in the most recent draft of proposed gas drilling regulations by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Thomson writes that he is not issuing an opinion for or against gas drilling, but that if the state wants to ban drilling on private land, it should pay for the privilege:

I for one am willing to forgo the financial gains that are possible as a result of gas drilling, but those of us who live, work, and own property inside the NY City watershed should be compensated for the loss of our mineral rights and the loss of potential economic opportunity. The only way to pursue this is to start from the grass roots level and demand that our local elected officials put pressure on the officials that are in higher office and continue to the Governors office and on to our federal officials in Washington. All of our elected officials need to know that we will not be bullied anymore and while we all firmly believe in protecting water quality, we are not willing to give up any rights without being compensated.

Thomson's full letter is embedded below.

The Great Property Rights Theft: Letter from Delaware County IDA's Jim Thomson