New York River Tops Nation's Most Endangered List

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Maria Palumbo
    The Delaware River.

    The Upper Delaware River in Upstate New York is the most endangered river in the United States because of business interest to drill for natural gas, according to the advocacy group American Rivers.

    In its 25th annual report released Wednesday, the organization suggests Congress pass the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act to protect rivers in the Marcellus Shale region from natural gas drilling.

    “As we’re seeing in the Gulf of Mexico, you can’t really trust the oil and natural gas industry,” said Amy Kober, a spokeswoman for the group.

    New York state environmental officials imposed stricter guidelines for companies that petition to drill close to New York City and Syracuse’s water supply in April, making it less likely that any hydraulic fracturing will be done there.

    New York City officials and environmentalists had voiced their opposition to drilling, but Kober said that’s not enough and that’s why the Upper Delaware tops the most endangered list.

    “We put it at No. 1 because it’s not final, nothing is official,” she said.

    Kober said the organization’s Web site saw a spike in page visits when the report was posted, and that with this report and list the group hopes to drum up more support against drilling close to New York City and Syracuse's water supply.

    “By spotlighting the river that so many people care about and depend on, people mobilize,” said Kober.

    Other rivers on the list include the Sacramento River in California, the Gauley River in West Virginia and the Little River close to Raleigh, N.C. However, risking the water supply of the country’s most populous metro area is another reason that the group put the Upper Delaware River at the top of its list. The organization has a staffer lobbying in Albany and a host of advocacy partners in the region.

    “There is a really high level of grassroots activity,” she said.

    The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is conducting a study on the risk hydraulic fracturing would pose to the watershed and plans to make a decision on the issue by the end of the year.

    The American Rivers report also features several conservancy success stories of the past 25 years, including that of the Penobscot River in Maine, where two dams were removed and another was blocked from being constructed.

    “We scored a major victory,” said Kober of the New England river.

    According to American Rivers, the country's most endangered rivers are: 

    1. Upper Delaware River, New York, natural gas extraction.
    2. Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California, outdated water and flood management.
    3. Gauley River, West Virginia, mountaintop removal coal mining.
    4. Little River, North Carolina, new dam.
    5. Cedar River, Iowa, outdated flood management.
    6. Upper Colorado River, Colorado, water diversions.
    7. Chetco River, Oregon, mining.
    8. Teton River, Idaho, new dam.
    9. Monongahela River, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, natural gas extraction.
    10. Coosa River, Alabama, hydropower dams.