Local officials who voted to impose municipal bans on hydraulic fracturing gathered in the state capitol in Albany on Monday 18 June to call attention to the rapidly expanding “home rule” movement that is sweeping upstate New York.
Skip to chapters by number using the video player control. Links are to the prepared statements of the presenters.
- Adrian Kuzminski, Moderator, Sustainable Otsego
- Karen Edelstein, GIS Consultant
- Mayor Matt Ryan, City of Binghamton
- David Bliss, Town of Middlefield
- Linda Levine, Town of Dryden
- Don Barber, Town of Caroline
- Liz Thomas, Town of Ulysses
- Bill Goodman, Town of Ithaca
- Julie Huntsman, Town of Otsego
- Robert Eklund, Town of New Lisbon
- Bill Elsey, Town of Springfield
- James Dean, Village of Cooperstown
- Dominick Calsolaro, City of Albany
- Bruce Ferguson, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
- Barbara Lifton, NYS Assembly District 125
- Robert Rosborough, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna
- Question 1
- Question 2
- Present for Governor Cuomo
Local officials who voted to impose municipal bans on hydraulic fracturing gathered in the state capitol in Albany on Monday 18 June to call attention to the rapidly expanding “home rule” movement that is sweeping upstate New York. “I don’t think that most people are aware of the full extent of this movement, or how quickly it is taking hold” says Karen Edelstein, who keeps track of local anti-fracking ordinances and initiatives for FracTracker, an organization dedicated to collecting and sharing information related to shale gas drilling.“
In a little over a year, nearly one hundred and thirty municipalities have used home rule to enact bans or moratoria that prohibit fracking in close to forty-five hundred square miles of New York State.”
“The state constitution gives municipalities the authority to prohibit activities that threaten the health and welfare of residents, and we’d be derelict in our duty if we didn’t exercise this power to protect the public” says Don Barber, Supervisor of the Town of Caroline. He said his decision was motivated by health and safety considerations, and a concern that fracking would negatively impact property values and the municipal tax base.
Julie Huntsman, Otsego Town Board Member, says a fracking ban protects the local economy. “I represent a unique upstate town, Otsego, which has an economy heavily dependent on tourism and health care. High volume hydrofracking threatens this economy, as well as our environment, public health and animal health. For these reasons, I worked very hard for a ban”.
The industry has tried to derail the municipal ban movement, so far without success. Two upstate towns – Middlefield and Dryden – were sued for enacting fracking prohibitions, but in both cases, the fracking bans were upheld in court. Late last month Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan was notified that the ban in his city is now being challenged in court. “The residents of Binghamton have the right to control their own destiny” said the Mayor. Ultimately he would prefer to see a statewide prohibition on fracking. “What we’re doing is no substitute for statewide action.”
In all, more than a dozen local officials including Mayor Ryan, Supervisor Barber, and Councilperson Huntsman are expected to participate in the press conference. They will be joined by Frac Tracker’s Karen Edelstein and Robert Rosborough IV of the Albany law firm Whiteman Osterman & Hanna which has advised towns on their right to enact municipal ban and moratoria.
A series of maps at Frac Tracker show the growth of the ban/moratorium movement since August 15, 2011:
FracTracker also provides the names of the municipalities that have taken action.
Prepared Statements and Transcripts
Statement to the Press by Karen Edelstein, NYS Liaison to FracTracker.org
18 June Albany Press Conference for Municipalities with Bans in NYS
I’m Karen Edelstein, the New York State Liaison to FracTracker.org, an organization that focuses on collecting and analyzing data related to shale gas drilling. I’ve been curating a list of municipalities that have implemented bans and moratoria, or have movements to enact similar protective legislation that will protect those communities from some of the risks associated with large scale industrial activities, such as high volume hydraulic fracturing.
In July of 2011, I made a map for a short presentation, showing which towns had prohibitions in place. I didn’t anticipate was that this map would be outdated within days, however.
Over the subsequent 11 months there was an unprecedented groundswell of local laws across New York State designed to exclude hydraulic fracturing from local communities. I’ve documented a 250% increase in the number of municipalities that have implemented bans in less than a year. In that same time, the number of communities with moratoria has ballooned nearly 800%. And there are close to 300% more towns and villages where prohibitions are under discussion.
So, how many communities does this really represent?
As of last week, there were 28 communities with bans in place, 89 with moratoria, and 72 more in some stage of discussion about implementing prohibitions. Almost weekly, communities are added to the tally, and this map—printed early last week—should now show the recent addition of the Town of Enfield’s moratorium.
According to 2010 US Census figures, the population of towns over the Marcellus formation is nearly 2.8 million. Nearly a third of that population—or about 870,000 people—are living in municipalities that currently have enacted bans or moratoria against hydraulic fracturing.
The Utica Shale formation extends far north of the Marcellus region, all the way to Quebec, and there are strong indications that the Utica Shale is also in the cross-hairs for shale-gas extraction—although popular media conversations don’t mention this often.
The population of towns over the Utica Formation in New York State is about 6.4 million people. There are many towns with local laws that would permanently or temporarily ban hydraulic fracturing only if drilling occurs in the Utica Shale formation, because these towns are north of where the Marcellus Shale reaches the surface. An impressive 1.3 million residents of New York State reside in towns over the Utica Shale where local bans or moratoria are currently in place. However, that’s still a fifth of the Utica Shale region’s population.
By comparison, if the proposed SGEIS is approved, the 150,000 residents of Syracuse and the 8 million residents of New York City, would enjoy water from protected watersheds because the DEC has suggested that both the Syracuse and New York City watersheds would be off-limits to this type of natural gas extraction.
The data that I am showing illustrate how municipalities across New York State are one-by-one voting for equivalent protections.
The upsurge in laws restricting high volume hydraulic fracturing is not limited to New York State. Globally, entire countries, as well as entire states in the US, are calling for prohibitions. Bulgaria, France, and Romania, as well as Vermont, have banned the practice outright. South Africa, Maryland, and Quebec have implemented moratoria. Access to safe energy that puts public and environmental health first and foremost is a conversation that is happening all over the globe.
One year ago, members of a citizen action group (ROUSE) Residents Opposed to Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction informed the Caroline Town Board they were circulating a petition demanding the Town Board ban gas drilling.
In response, a board member initiated a resolution that stated Town of Caroline would be neutral on the gas issue – it was seconded.
In July 2011, the Town Board held a public meeting on that neutrality resolution- 250 attendees; over 90% of comments were opposed to the resolution. Town Board Vote: Motion failed.
In September, ROUSE –Residents Opposed to Unsafe Shalegas Extraction– presented a petition signed by 1146 – 2/3rds of adults demanding the Town Board Ban gas drilling. Demographics of signers matched the age, location and party affiliation of total populace. A Resolution to comply with petition was moved and seconded.
Another public meeting to hear comments on this resolution was held- 150 attendees, 90% in favor of the Ban. This time majority of the Town Board did not follow the lead of citizens and motion failed. Two of three of the Town Board opposing the Ban resolution were running for re-election that fall.
Citizens responded on Election Day defeating the two incumbents by two to one margin with candidates that campaigned on supporting the Ban. It was the most one-sided election in recent history.
The newly seated Town Board adopted a Moratorium in March 2012 to provide time and space to consider local law to protect the roads and aquifer, finish the Site Plan review, and develop a Ban.
In April the Town Board rolled out a Ban local law and held public meetings in April, May and another coming up in June.
This story has a moral that I’d like to share with the Governor, the Legislature and all elected officials in NYS-
Four Lesson learned:
- everyone will experience the impacts of Gas Extraction on community, existing economy, environment, and safety, while only a few receive benefits- the reason why majority want protection;
- Local Government is closest to the people and is the only level of government left to protect civil society from the excesses of Corporate Energy giants;
- Elected officials that don’t protect their citizens will be replaced;
- voters are as powerful as mega corporations.
JUNE 18, 2012 – Statement – Press Conference with Elected Officials of Towns with Fracking Bans or Moratoria
Iʼm Julie Huntsman, a practicing veterinarian and councilwoman for the town of Otsego. My entry into local politics is no accident – but a direct result of activism on the fracking issue. Months of focused effort fueled by intense community interest and concern resulted in Otsego banning fracking on May 11, 2011, making it the first rural NY town to do so.
In my town, there is a large majority of people who understand the multiple threats that this unconventional drilling presents: people across the political spectrum, young and old, the financially stable and the struggling. They understand that the most basic need of living things is clean water and air. They get it.
But nationally, and at the highest level of our State government, thereʼs a big problem: what is guiding our energy policy are glossy gas industry ads, political contributions, money to lobbyists – in short – “spin”. Not science. What is guiding our leaders is not what is most important, most critical to biologic and economic health – but what is expedient. What the natural gas industry is allowed to do now with its exemptions to federal environmental laws should be illegal – even criminal. But itʼs not – thanks to the infamous Halliburton loophole in the 2005 Energy Bill. Does NYS have the foresight,
the vision and integrity to lead by banning this at LEAST until those toxic exemptions are overturned? That would be a good start. It would change the conversation. It would begin to get this industry on a course that is at least approaching responsible.
So – responsible towns are acting. Because our State is failing us.
Our Governor logically exhorts us to pay attention to science on this issue. We are. Is he? Is Commissioner Martens? I exhort them to carefully study the contributions of these scientists and researchers: Anthony Ingraffea, Robert Howarth, Janette Barth, Susan Christopherson, Theo Colburn, Ron Bishop, Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. And please – take another look at the 2011 Duke University study showing that, on average, water wells within a kilometer of a gas well had 17 times the methane – thermogenic methane from deep shale – than wells outside that range. Wouldnʼt that imply that a kilometer is at the very least a minimal setback from a home or public building?
Governor Cuomo suggests that the state is unclear on Home Rule, by posing this question in a recent interview: “What is the stateʼs relationship to a local government and how do you weigh home rule in this?” For clarification, take another look at the Middlefield and Dryden decisions delivered in February. And what part of protection of “health, safety, and welfare” do you not understand? Weʼve lost faith in your campaign claim that our watersheds are “sacrosanct.” At the very least, take a stand for Home Rule.
I say anyone asserting that environmental or health concerns are overblown is very, very sure that they personally will never be bothered by ruined or flammable water; by relying on non-potable water in plastic buffalos, by their childʼs asthma worsening; by headaches and nausea brought on by elevated levels of VOC”s in their blood; by their petʼs death from lapping “industrial waste” thatʼs been spread on a road, or by the failing health and reduced reproduction of their dairy or beef cows from toxins in their water and air. This is all happening in drilled communities in multiple states. And our
Governor is saying this is OK?
There are fundamental flaws in this drilling process that have to be fixed. The “strictest regulations in the nation” are not going to do it. This phrase strains credulity, putting it mildly. As Dr. Bishop has revealed in his research, our stretched DEC is not even sufficiently regulating the current level of conventional drilling. Moreover, regulation historically has failed to lessen impacts or to make drilling any safer.
Governor Cuomo, I ask you to do the right thing and ban high volume fracking. If you are unwilling to be part of the solution to fix this problem, at the very least – honor every NYS townʼs right to make land use decisions for their community. We are not trying to regulate the gas industry. Thatʼs not our job. Please do yours. Stand up for local democracy, and support Home Rule. Now.
This is NYʼs chance to lead and the nation is watching. If you are truly paying attention to “hard science” and data over political science, the choice is clear. Donʼt fail us.
Julie Huntsman, DVM
Town Council, Town of Otsego NY
JAMES R DEAN – ALBANY PRESS CONFERENCE STATEMENT – 6/18/12
TRUSTEE, VILLAGE OF COOPERSTOWN, NY firstname.lastname@example.org
ON APRIL 25, 2011 THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE VILLAGE OF COOPERSTOWN, NY APPROVED A RESOLUTION THAT SUPPORTS ALL EFFORTS TO STOP HYDROFRACKING IN NEW YORK STATE.
HYDROFRACKING IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH A BRIGHT, NEW, HIGH QUALITY FUTURE FOR NEW YORK STATE.
THE VILLAGE OF COOPERSTOWN AND THE SURROUNDING AREA HAS HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF LONG TERM INVESTMENT AT RISK OF COLLAPSE IF HYDROFRACKING COMES TO NEW YORK STATE.
COOPERSTOWN IS A MAJOR NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL TOURIST DESTINATION. WE DEPEND ON TOURISM, CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER AND A HIGH QUALITY OF LIFE TO ATTRACT VISITORS, NEW RESIDENTS, NEW BUSINESSES, AND INVESTMENT.
HYDROFRACKING WOULD BRING INCALCULABLE ECONOMIC DEVASTATION TO OUR HISTORIC VILLAGE AND TO OUR WORLD CLASS ATTRACTIONS: THE NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM, THE FARMERS MUSEUM, THE FENIMORE ART MUSEUM, THE GLIMMERGLASS OPERA FESTIVAL, THE HISTORIC OTESAGA RESORT HOTEL, BASSETT HEALTHCARE NETWORK AND OTSEGO LAKE. .
OUR LOSSES WOULD FAR EXCEED, BY ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE, THE COMPLETELY UNSUBSTANTIATED POTENTIAL GAINS PUT FORTH BY THE GAS DRILLING INDUSTRY AND ITS SUPPORTERS.
HYDROFRACKING IN NEW YORK STATE COULD PUT THE VILLAGE OF COOPERSTOWN, AND MUCH OF NEW YORK STATE, INTO A PERMANENT RECESSION.
COOPERSTOWN NY IS A MAJOR ECONOMIC, CULTURAL, AND TOURISM COMPONENT OF NEW YORK STATE. WE WORK VERY HARD TO BE THE BEST WE CAN BE. WE EXPECT OUR OPINIONS AND CONCERNS TO BE HEARD AND TO BE VERY SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED WHEN DECISIONS ARE BEING MADE FOR THE FUTURE OF NEW YORK STATE. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO SELF DETERMINATION AND THE RIGHT TO HOME RULE.
NEW YORK STATE WILL BE REPOPULATED AND IT WILL BECOME A MAJOR ECONOMIC FORCE IN THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY IF FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THIS IS WHERE THERE IS ABUNDANT, CLEAN, SAFE WATER. HYDROFRACKING COULD FORECLOSE ON THAT FUTURE.
THE WEST IS DRYING UP AND SO MAY MUCH OF OUR FOOD SUPPLY. THE COST OF TRANSPORTING FOOD LONG DISTANCES IS INCREASING EVERY DAY. AGRICULTURE, AND MOVING MORE LOCALLY-SOURCED FOOD TO AN EVEN GREATER POPULATION CENTER WILL AGAIN PLAY A VERY IMPORTANT PART IN THE FUTURE OF NEW YORK STATE.
TO ALLOW HYDROFRACKING, FOR SOME SPOTTY SHORT TERM GAIN, WHILE PUTTING MUCH OF NEW YORK STATE’S WATER SUPPLY AT RISK OF BEING POTENTIALLY UNDRINKABLE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, MAKES NO SENSE..
HYDROFRACKING IS AN IRRESPONSIBLE, GET-RICH-QUICK, PUMP-AND-DUMP, PONZI SCHEME THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SAVING NEW YORK STATE AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH ENRICHING NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS.
THE VILLAGE OF COOPERSTOWN NEW YORK SUPPORTS GOVERNOR CUOMO IN ALMOST ALL OF HIS EFFORTS TO TRY TO MAKE NEW YORK STATE THE GREAT EMPIRE STATE AGAIN, AND WE WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN MAKING HIS VISION A REALITY, BUT WE CANNOT SUPPORT ANY DECISIONS THAT WILL BRING HYDROFRACKING TO NEW YORK STATE.