|MORATORIA, BANS, and RESOLUTIONS
MORATORIA, BANS, and RESOLUTIONS
New York, Pennsylvania and a Sampling of Municipalities and Key Organizations from Varied Locations Opposed to Hydrofrack Drilling
New York State
194 Communities Protected, (48 of these are in the NYC/Syracuse Watersheds), 95 Municipalities Staging for Passage of Draft Legislation – 289 Municipalities as of 11/28/12
2,275,000 New Yorkers Protected
Denying the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, in releasing the 1600+ page study conducted by his agency defended the report that may permit hydrofrack drilling in NYS. Exempted are the watershed areas of both New York City and the Syracuse regions (where a ban on drilling is in effect.) Intensive study of the report will be undertaken on the impact that hydrofracking will have when the report is released to the public. In a prepared statement, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said, “This report strikes the right balance between protecting our environment, watersheds, and drinking water and promoting economic development.”
Those opposed to the practice argue that the recommendations allow the state to apply double standards to protecting drinking water supplies. Jack Ossont, spokesman for The Coalition to Protect New York, stated the following in response to the DEC report: “(The) announcement is premature and makes little sense. By proposing rules that prohibit hydraulic fracturing near drinking water for urban areas, the state recognizes the serious risks and pollution dangers caused by fracking. But by allowing it to take place in other areas, the state is condemning rural residents to the real risk of contaminated drinking water, industrial pollution and corporate control. If fracking is safe, why ban it in some areas? And if it’s dangerous, why allow it in others?
During the open comment period over 60,000 responses to fracking were shared with the DEC. The tabulation responses were running at 10 to 1 against the practice.
Two legislative bills on hydrofrack drilling were considered by the legislature. The Assembly passed an extension of the current moratorium through June of 2012. The Senate did not act on a parallel bill and the issue was closed for consideration.
A Yates County resolution unanimously passed calls for similar protection to this Finger Lakes region for the treatment of their watershed as that in NYC and Syracuse watersheds.
The Town of Jerusalem (Yates) enacted a zoning ordinance for their entire township which prohibits fracking and related industrialized activities. Their “ban” follows a one-year moratorium in which intensive study by a committee of volunteer citizens took place.
The Village of Penn Yan by statute will not accept any hydrofracking wastewater for processing at the village wastewater treatment plant.
A consortium of interested citizens is planning for a unified moratorium and eventual ban of hydrofrack drilling in the entire Keuka Lake watershed region. To date the towns of Barrington, Benton, Milo, Penn Yan and Wayne have adopted moratoria ordinances. Urbana and Hammondsport have legislation in place that will be enacted if and when NYS should lift the moratorium on fracking. Following an eleven month review process in which a moratorium had been in effect, Jerusalem has enacted zoning ordinances which effectively bans fracking from their township. Eight of the nine towns in the Keuka Lake watershed are under the protection of zoning prohibitions, moratoria and/or bans.
Dewitt, Tully and Marcellus have enacted moratoria laws. Skaneateles has enacted a ban.
Buffalo has banned hydrofrack drilling and wastewater disposal in their city.
Lumberland and Tusten (Sullivan Co) have enacted zoning ordinances that ban or prohibit fracking in their communities. Their initial moratoria enabled them to research and analyze the most favorable manner to ban this practice.
The Town of Ulysses clarified in zoning that gas drilling is one of the prohibited uses, as are many other uses. In their zoning ordinances, if an activity is not specifically mentioned as allowed, then it is prohibited. There are no heavy industrial zones in Ulysses.
Broome County: Has a “de facto” people’s ban on hydrofracking on county lands. A former official’s attempts to pass a pro-drilling statute were twice rejected due to an overwhelming reaction from residents. Waste restrictions for fracking cuttings and flow back water have been established.
Gorham in Ontario County enacted a moratorium ordinance.
All towns that ring Cooperstown's reservoir, Otsego Lake are headed for protection with Otsego, Cherry Valley and Middlefield having banned heavy industry including gas drilling. The State Supreme Court has upheld Middlefield’s right to do so.
Springfield has adopted local laws prohibiting heavy industry, including gas drilling.
The Medical Society of the State of New York has gone on record supporting a moratorium on gas drilling using high volume hydraulic fracturing.
Cooperstown’s Chamber of Commerce has issued a position statement supporting a total ban on fracking due to the impact it will make on their watershed, farming and tourism.
New York City has called on the US Congress to remove hydrofrack drilling’s exemption from the Safe Water Drinking Act.
The Board of Trustees of Bassett Medical Center, based in Cooperstown, New York, views the issue of hydrofracking as a public health issue of the highest priority and resolves that the hydrofracking method of gas drilling constitutes an unacceptable threat to the health of patients, and should be prohibited until such time as it is proven to be safe. The Bassett Healthcare Network is responsible for the health care of a significant proportion of the population of eight counties in central New York State.
Alfred in Allegany County has enacted a one-year moratorium. Following its neighbor’s lead, Almond, is preparing an ordinance for a one year moratorium as well.
Lebanon town board members adopted a memorializing resolution that calls on the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to repeal and reform compulsory integration laws in the State of New York that currently govern natural gas development.
A petition drive resulted in the Dryden Town Board unanimously passing a resolution to ban fracking. A Denver-based natural-gas company Anschutz Exploration Corp. has filed the first lawsuit against a local drilling ban in New York. The State Supreme Court in Tompkins County has upheld Dryden's ban.
The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. has sued the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws.
The Common Council of Oneonta City voted to ban all forms of natural gas drilling in city limits.
The Town of Wales adopted a community rights ordinance that bans “fracking.” The ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales’ residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”
The exploration of land for natural gas by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is prohibited in the Town of Camillus.
The city of Auburn rescinded their ban of natural gas-drilling wastewater from its treatment plant and is accepting water from fracked wells in Pennsylvania. Onondaga County’s ban remains in place.
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability filed a lawsuit against the DRBC (NEPA EIS Cases v. DRBC & Other Federal Agencies (Federal Court) ) for failure to include an Environmental Impact Assessment as required by the National Environmental Policy Act before proposing gas drilling regulations for the watershed. The DCS lawsuit focused on the impacts on human health that should have been assessed before regulations were formulated. The DCS' suit and Delaware Riverkeeper's suit are now consolidated with the NY Attorney General's suit.
The Ithaca Town Board has amended the town's zoning law to become the first municipality in Tompkins County to ban gas drilling within its borders.
Geneva has enacted a law banning fracking in heir municipality.
Virgil banned drilling in much of its aquifer protection district.
The Sullivan County Supreme Court has permanently enjoined Cabot Oil from “exploring, drilling, producing and marketing oil and natural gas and other hydrocarbons” within a residential subdivision in the Sullivan County town of Tusten. While this decision concerns home owner covenants rather than zoning, the underlying principal is the same- communities have the right to protect the health, safety and quality of life of their residents in the face of drilling practices such as hydrofracking despite the insistence by the drilling industry and some public officials that communities have no such rights.
Niles in Cayuga County has added their moratorium to the growing list in New York State.
Jordan Elbridge in Onondaga County joined its neighbors and has a moratorium in place.
Danby in Tompkins County passed unanimously their ban.
Otisco has a moratorium in place.
More than 250 pediatricians, family practitioners, otolaryngologists, endocrinologists, oncologists and other doctors, along with the medical societies of at least seven upstate counties and the regional office of the American Academy of Pediatricians, wrote to Governor Cuomo warning that the state has failed to analyze public health impacts of HVHF in its rush to approve permits for drilling. “We are greatly concerned about the omission of a critical issue related to the development of natural gas using high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking: human health impacts” they wrote. Noting that HVHF will likely increase health care costs, as well as mitigating water and air pollution, the medical authorities called on the governor to immediately request an independent school of public health to conduct a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) since the state’s Department of Health has said it is unwilling to do so.
Plainfield has a ban in place.
Cortlandville has a moratorium in effect.
The Town of Middlesex Board has implemented a year-long moratorium.
The Town of Onondaga in Onondaga County has enacted a moratorium.
The Albany Common Council has voted to pass the banning of hydrofracking in the city yet the mayor vetoed the citywide ban. Observers await the next steps.
The Town of Richmondville in Schoharie County has officially moved to pass a ban using local zoning. They have a moratorium in place.
The Naples Village Board passed a moratorium keeping hydrofracking out of the village for one year.
The Yates County Farm Bureau recently took a stand in favor of conventional gas drilling, but is opposed to HVHF in gas exploration until it can be done safely.
Syracuse lawmakers voted unanimously to ban natural gas drilling. Syracuse thus joins Buffalo among major Upstate cities to ban hydrofracking. The new law also prohibits storage of fracking fluids within the city limits, as well as city-owned lands outside of Syracuse.
The Town Board of the Town of Canandaigua called on Governor Cuomo and Legislature of New York State to apply the same standards of prohibiting high volume hydraulic fracturing to the Canandaigua Lake watershed and all the Finger Lakes watersheds that the DEC has indicated it will apply to the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.
The town of Summerhill, Cayuga County, approved a ban on gas drilling. Rather than prohibit hydrofracking through zoning, the law indicates that "the town can use its police power and its power to prohibit public nuisance to protect the health, safety and welfare of the current and future residents of the town." It is reported that the town used this option because it does not have a comprehensive plan or zoning code.
The Board of Directors of the Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association has voted unanimously to oppose hydraulic fracturing drilling for natural gas in the watershed.
The Delaware River Basin Commission decided to postpone a vote on whether to finally release new drilling rules for land inside of the DRBC’s jurisdiction. The dominoes began to fall when Governor Jack Markell announced that Delaware would vote against the plan to allow gas development to commence in the Delaware River Watershed. New York had earlier stated that they were voting “NO” on the proposal. Apparently, the Commission did not feel they had the three votes needed to move the proposal forward. The Delaware River Basin Commission is composed of the Governors of the four states that drain to the Delaware River, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware and a federal representative, the Army Corps of Engineers for the Obama Administration.
The Canandaigua Town Board passed an 18 month moratorium banning natural gas and petroleum activities including high volume hydraulic fracturing. Canandaigua City has a similar ordinance.
Movements toward moratoria/bans are underway in Afton, Arcade, Barker, Bath, Binghamton (Town), Blenheim, Big Flats, Brookfield, Burlington, Canadice, Carlisle, Canajoharie, Canaseraga, Chatham, Chemung, Cobbleskill, Colden, Columbus, Corning, Coventry, Croton, Dansville, DeRuyter, Dolgeville, Ephrata, Fairport, Fort Plain, Fremont, Fulton, Groton, Guilford, Hammondsport, Hartwick, Hector, Homer, Hillsdale, Horseheads, Huron, Italy, Laurens, Lisle, Lumberland, McDonough, Macedon, Maine, Marbletown, Masonville, Maryland (Otsego County), Middleburgh, Milford, Minden, Monroe County, Morris, New Berlin, New Paltz, Newark Valley, Norwich, Olive, Otego, Otselic, Palatine, Pittsfield, Pittsford, Plymouth, Preston, Pulteney, Salisbury, Sandford, Saugerties, Sempronius (seeking dual protection), Seward, Sidney, Skaneateles City, Smithville, Spencer, Sullivan, Summit, Taghkanic, Tioga, Triangle, Unadilla, Urbana, Union, Van Etten, Vestal, Vienna, Wayland, Windsor, Webster, Westford, West Sparta, Wright and York.
Tompkins County has enacted a ban on fracking on county land. They also passed a law requiring any company involving “high-frequency, high impact truck traffic” to obtain a permit and pay for any road damage. They have passed resolutions banning fracking in the county and Finger Lakes region and endorsing home rule authority regarding local land use and gas drilling.
Livingston County municipalities (and communities in adjoining counties) are taking hold of the momentum that is building in upstate New York and the Finger Lakes region. Avon, Bristol, Conesus, Lima, Livonia, Mount Morris, North Dansville, Geneseo, Nunda, Richmond, South Dansville, Sparta, Springwater and South Bristol have approved moratoria.
Germantown has enacted a moratorium.
New Lisbon has instituted a prohibition against fracking and heavy industry.
Residents in Hector expressed overwhelming support through a petition campaign for a moratorium against fracking in their municipality. Despite strong public support of a moratorium, the Town Board has adamantly refused its consideration.
Binghamton has approved a two year moratorium to protect the health, welfare and safety of its residents against fracking.
Brighton became the first town in Monroe County to approve a moratorium. The moratorium gives the town a window in which it prohibits hydrofracking for a short period while it considers changes in town zoning rules that could ban it completely. Mendon is the second municipality in Monroe County to do so.
Just prior to the January 11, 2012 deadline for public feedback of hydraulic fracking in New York, a bevy of bakers, chefs and restaurateurs (Chefs for Marcellus) formed a coalition to raise awareness about the threat they say the natural gas drilling technique poses to one of New York’s most cherished institutions: its stomach. Many restaurants source their ingredients from farms in areas on or near the Marcellus Shale, leading the chefs to fear that the groundwater could become contaminated if fracking is allowed in New York.
Among the numerous concerns stated in the fall Newsletter of NYSAWWA (an association of drinking water professionals) was their assessment that "... the NYSDEC does not have the regulatory capacity to adequately enforce requirements; evaluate applications and make the necessary decisions needed to carry out specific mitigation measures as proposed; and conduct field oversight." This point echoes the feelings expressed "off the record" by officials of the DEC who have said that they are woefully unprepared to oversee the process.
Oneida County approaches unanimity in their resolve and actions to prohibit fracking with 24 of 26 towns under the protective umbrella of bans or moratoria. Augusta, New Hartford and Rome lead the way with a ban in place. Moratoria exist in Annsville, Ava, Boonville, Camden, Clinton, Deerfield, Florence, Floyd, Forestport, Kirkland, Marshall, Paris, Remsen, Sangerfield, Steuben, Trenton, Utica, Vernon, Verona, Westmoreland and Whitestown.
Rensselaerville and Berne in Albany County have moratoria in place.
Torrey in Yates County enacted a year-long moratorium.
Wayne Bayer, a shop steward for the Public Employees Federation, said the union supports a moratorium on hydrofracking because of the agency’s dwindling staff level. The agency has lost more than 800 full-time employees since 2008 because of budget cutbacks. PEF represents about 1,700 scientific and technical workers at the DEC. “(The union) continues to support a moratorium on high-volume hydrofracking, because the existing staff shortages do not support this labor-intensive mission,” Bayer told a panel of lawmakers. Currently, the agency has 16 gas-drilling regulators. The DEC had previously estimated it would need 140 additional workers the first year it issues permits for high-volume hydrofracking. That estimate is based on 75 wells, the gas industry’s best guess for how quickly it would ramp up production in New York the first year the state gives hydrofracking the green light.
The Moravia Town board enacted a moratorium ordinance prohibiting hydrofracking.
State Supreme Court Justice Donald F. Cerio Jr. upheld the Otsego County town of Middlefield's zoning ordinance that outlawed gas drilling, including the controversial practice of hydrofracking. A similar ruling in favor of the town of Dryden was also registered. Cerio's decision, like the one in the Dryden case, says that state law regulating gas drilling does not take away a town's right to enact zoning. Because the members of the town boards in Dryden and Middlefield were willing to exercise their right to protect their citizens and stood firm in their convictions, there now are definitive answers from two separate courts that clearly support local community rights. When asked about municipalities’ rights to enact bans against gas drilling, Governor Cuomo said… “I believe that it’s up to the courts. And if the courts say they have that right, they have the right.”
Manheim in Herkimer County has enacted a moratorium.
St. Johnsville in the Mohawk Valley, the geographic center of NYS, became the 80th municipality to enact a ban or moratorium. (Both the Village and Town have done so.)
Townships protected under the New York City watershed provision (west of Hudson) include… Andes, Ashland, Bovina, Conesville, Delhi, Denning, Halcott, Hamden, Hardenburg, Hunter, Jewitt, Lexington, Middletown, Neversink, Olive*, Prattsville, Roxbury, Shandaken, Stamford, Tompkins, Walton, and Windham. Portions of these towns fall within this umbrella… Deposit, Fallsburg, Franklin, Gilboa, Harpersfield, Hurley, Jefferson, Kingston, Kortright, Liberty, Masonville, Meredith, Rochester* (Hudson Valley), Sidney, Warwarsing, and Woodstock. It is interesting to note that a number of these towns have sought and enacted the additional protection of moratoria and bans in addition to the NYC provision.
Townships protected under the Syracuse watershed provision include… Marcellus*, Niles*, Skaneateles* (Ban/Town), Sempronius, Scott and Spafford*. (*Dual Protection.)
Townships protected under the New York City Croton Watershed provision include… Bedford, Carmel, Kent, Lewisboro, New Castle, North Salem, Patterson, Somers, Southeast, Pound Ridge and Yorktown.
Starkey adds its name to the moratoria roster.
Niagara Falls passed a city-wide ban on fracking and wastewater. They also passed a resolution to Governor Cuomo stating fracking should be banned in all of NYS. Millions of gallons of downstream waters are now safeguarded.
The Buffalo Common Council called for a state ban on hydraulic fracturing. By a unanimous vote, city lawmakers urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers to enact a prohibition "due to possible dangers and environmental impacts of such operations." In February 2011, the Council voted to ban any kind of natural gas extraction, including hydraulic fracturing, in the city.
Bristol has enacted a moratorium.
In reversing the position of a former Board, the Town of Caroline has enacted a 12 month moratorium.
The Town of Oneonta enacted a moratorium. The City of Oneonta has had a ban against drilling in place.
Honeoye has enacted a moratorium.
Little Falls, Manchester, and Oppenheim add their names to municipalities with a 12 month moratorium in place.
Rush became the third municipality in Monroe County to enact a moratorium.
Add North Dansville and Lincoln to the one-year moratoria roster. Lincoln is the first community in Madison County to enact a moratorium.
Olive in Ulster County is seeking double protection. A number of municipalities such as Olive are in the New York City watershed and have resolved to enact an ordinance.
The town board in Lincoln unanimously adopted a moratorium banning high-volume hydrofracking Wednesday evening, making it the first town in Madison County to prohibit the controversial drilling practice.
The county seat, Schoharie, in Schoharie County has enacted a moratorium.
"Banning fracking from the City of Albany and drilling wastes from our local treatment and disposal facilities is more than just a symbolic act -- we are already finding the hazardous by-products of fracking discarded well outside the current zone of drilling, with little State oversight or concern," said Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "We applaud the Albany Common Council for filling the leadership void on industrial gas development. Governor Cuomo has offered only the assurances of a half-baked regulatory program to New Yorkers who stand to lose everything to this out-of-control industry. We hope this stand in Albany does not go unnoticed."
Add Scipio and Butternuts to the moratoria cluster.
Bethel with a newly instituted ban and Waterloo with their moratorium join those communities in the protected category.
The Town of Skaneateles used their previously enacted moratorium period to assess, study and ultimately craft ordinances to prohibit hydrofrack drilling in their municipality. They follow the pattern of responsible study and decision-making that protects citizens and watershed area used by scores of responsible leaders in New York State.
Genoa, Lansing, and Locke have enacted moratoria.
Beacon has banned hydrofrack drilling and natural gas drilling waste water.
Kudos go to Ledyard and Moravia (both town and village) for enacting moratoria.
Enfield enacted a year-long moratorium to give the Town of Enfield time to shore up its legal and legislative protections against fracking.
Rochester (Monroe County) became the last major city in upstate New York to enact a year-long moratorium. The City Council vote was unanimous.
National Casualty (Insurance) Company, part of the Nationwide (“…is on your side”) group of insurance companies with over $12 billion in assets, announces Hydraulic Fracturing Operations Prohibited: “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage. (We will) not bind risks with this exposure, and any policies currently written with this exposure (will) be non-renewed (following state requirements). Prohibited risks involved in fracking operations include, but are not limited to: Contractors involved in fracking operations; landowners whose land has been leased to lessees with fracking operations; Frack sand and frack liquid haulers; Water haulers – clean water, salt water or sludge; Hotshots - including hauling pipe/equipment, parts, site prep (dump trucks, bulldozers)or leasing of tanks; Oilfield support operations – hauling of pipe, lumber or equipment; Oilfield support operations –tankers, over the hole or non owned trailers.”
The Town of Highland (Sullivan Co) used their moratorium to rewrite their Comprehensive Management Plan to explicitly prohibit heavy industrial uses and adopt a zoning ordinance. They now have a ban.
Guilderland’s board passed a law banning fracking and anything to do with related exploration, transport of waste, and use of water.
Spafford in Onondaga County enacted a ban.
Newfield has a moratorium and Andes has extended their moratorium as they work toward a ban.
Joining the listing are Hopewell and West Bloomfield who enacted moratoria.
Woodstock has banned all oil and gas exploration.
Caledonia has enacted a moratorium and Perinton stands ready to enact a prohibition against fracking through zoning ordinances following their public hearing in August.
Owego has enacted a moratorium and Wilson has enacted a ban.
Sennett in Cayuga County has enacted a moratorium.
Augusta, Chenango, Fulton and Trumansberg have recently enacted bans.
Lafayette, Lenox, Newport and Sennett have enacted moratoria.
Ulster County has enacted a new law that will ban the use of fracking brine on all county-owned property.
The Town of Rochester in the Hudson Valley has enacted a ban.
Perinton enacted zoning ordinances prohibiting hydrofrack drilling within the township. They became the first municipality to do so in Monroe County. Also enacted were ordinances prohibiting drill cuttings and leachate from being deposited in the landfill located within its borders. The town did so without a moratorium by concentrating on existing and new zoning laws.
Penfield enacted a moratorium.
Caroline has enacted a ban prohibiting unconventional gas drilling and associated high-impact industrial activities.
Sharon Springs in Schoharie County has enacted effective prohibitions as well.
Copake, Fabius, Oxford, Portage and Stafford have enacted moratoria.
Yorkshire in Cattaraugus County has enacted a moratorium.
Dutchess, Nassau, Onondaga, Ontario, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tompkins, and Ulster Counties have either enacted bans on fracking and/or related activities on county owned lands. Albany, Putnam, and Westchester Counties are in the final stages of enacting similar prohibitions. Yates has passed two resolutions calling for parity with the NYC and Syracuse protected watersheds.
Municipalities and environmental groups are enlisting each other in the quest to put together a large patchwork of drilling bans across the Northeast. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) launched a "Community Fracking Defense Project" in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and North Carolina (EnergyWire, Sept. 20). The organization provides legal and policy advice to opponents of gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing who say the risks to local air and water outweigh the economic benefits.
KWIC (Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative) issued a request to Governor Cuomo and the NYDEC calling for equity with the protected Syracuse and New York City watersheds. The organization is comprised of the top elected officials in each township surrounding Keuka Lake. KWIC joins several homeowners associations and the Yates County Legislature which have issued resolutions calling for parity with Syracuse and NYC.
Penn Yan became the latest town in the Keuka Lake watershed to enact a moratorium.