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Advocates: Upper Delaware most endangered U.S. river; upper Colorado on list

Mary Esch
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

ALBANY, N.Y. – An advocacy group seeking tighter governmental control of natural gas drilling put the Upper Delaware River at the top of its annual list of the nation’s 10 most endangered rivers, citing gas exploration in the surrounding region.

American Rivers said in a report released Tuesday that the Delaware watershed along the New York-Pennsylvania border is threatened by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which injects millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals to stimulate gas wells.

Drillers have leased thousands of acres in the watershed, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.



“Unless we stop the threat of rampant shale fracking, the drinking water for 17 million people across the Northeast will be threatened by toxic pollution,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of Washington, D.C.-based American Rivers.

“I don’t know how they can conclude that, when hydraulic fracturing has never harmed a drop of drinking water,” said Jim Smith, spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York. “In 60 years of hydraulic fracturing across the country, more than a million wells have been fracked, including 14,000 in New York.”




Industrial activities in the Delaware watershed are regulated by the federal-state Delaware River Basin Commission, which announced last month that it won’t approve any new gas well projects until it finishes drafting new regulations for drilling in shale formations.

American Rivers urged Congress to pass the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, or FRAC Act, which regulates fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

American Rivers compiles its annual list after reviewing nominations from environmental groups and individuals across the country.

Natural gas extraction is also cited as a threat to the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The group says mountaintop removal coal mining threatens West Virginia’s Gauley River and strip mining endangers Oregon’s Chetco River.

Outdated flood management is cited as a threat to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in California and the Cedar River in Iowa. Dams are cited as threats to Idaho’s Teton River, North Carolina’s Little River, and Alabama’s Coosa River, and water diversion projects are cited on the Upper Colorado River.

The environmental advocacy group American Rivers released a list of what it calls the 10 most endangered rivers in the nation on Wednesday. The rivers, their location and biggest threat:

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.


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