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New York Municipalities Take Stand to Allow Fracking

Several municipalities in the Southern Tier of New York have adopted nonbinding resolutions that take a stand that would allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking), a position that dovetails with an assertion by state officials that the drilling stimulation practice, if eventually approved by regulators, only would be permitted in communities that allowed it.

Last month state Sens. Thomas Libous (R-Binghamton) and James Seward (R-Milford) said they thought the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would ultimately approve high-volume fracking, but possibly in select areas first (see Shale Daily, April 24). The DEC is working to finalize a supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) on fracking.

Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York Inc. (JLCNY), told NGI's Shale Daily that about 19 municipalities have passed nonbinding resolutions that in effect support development of the Marcellus and Utica shales.

"We just started it this month," Fitzsimmons said Monday. "Basically [the municipalities] are just stating that they agree with the DEC, New York State and the governor. They want to wait for the science to come out, they agree with the science and they want to see what that is. They're not against drilling, they're not going to do a moratorium and they're going to wait to see what the DEC comes out with."

Neil Vitale, an executive board member of the Steuben County Landowners Coalition (SCLOC), a group aligned with the JLCNY, told NGI's Shale Daily that five municipalities in Steuben County -- the villages of Addison and Painted Post, and the towns of Bath, Jasper and Woodhull -- have adopted resolutions that support fracking.

"We wanted to take it one step further, to give the towns an opportunity to say they agree with the DEC and this new SGEIS, and that when it comes out we are willing to be the first ones to drill," Vitale said Monday. "And it's to counteract the anti-drilling activity that has been going on in our state.

"The bans and moratoriums [against fracking] are really a slap in the face of the DEC. They're saying 'we don't trust what your regulations that you've been together for the last four years, and we still don't think you've done it right.' We're countering that by saying 'we think you have done it right and we want you to start.'"

In Broome County, the Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, NY, said the towns of Colesville, Conklin and Windsor unanimously adopted resolutions based on language from the JLCNY.

"It's great that the landowners are being so successful in working with their own town governments," Cherie Messore, spokesperson for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York (IOGA), told NGI's Shale Daily on Monday. "It's great to see so much participation because it's really the landowners who are going to benefit from increased production in New York State. It's wonderful to see so much good support coming from the community."

On its website SCLOC appears to be actively recruiting supporters beyond Steuben County in five of its six neighbors in the Marcellus and Utica shales: Allegany, Chemung, Livingston, Schuyler and Yates counties. Meanwhile, the JLCNY has attracted supporters from across the Empire State, after posting a six-point landowners' "declaration of rights" earlier this month (see Shale Daily, May 14).

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