Sidney debates gas drilling moratorium

Above: A video of a public hearing held in Sidney on Feb. 9, regarding a proposed moratorium on gas drilling and heavy industry in the town.

The meeting went on nearly four hours, and, according to attendees, drew over 100 people from the town of Sidney as well as the surrounding region to testify either for or against the wisdom of enacting the ban. No decision on the legislation has yet been made by the town board.

Many of the anti-moratorium speakers expressed a fear that a ban on heavy industry would affect Amphenol, a company that runs a manufacturing plant in the town of Sidney and that is currently the county's largest employer. After the Irene and Lee floods last summer, Amphenol management decided to relocate their damaged plant, and were persuaded to remain in the town of Sidney only after the town agreed to grant a franchise to an energy company to build a natural gas pipeline that would deliver gas to the plant.

To complicate matters, there are at least two potential drafts of moratorium legislation that the Sidney town board might vote on. One was drafted by town lawyer Joe Ermeti; the other by attorney David Slottje, a lawyer with the Community Environmental Defense Council who has worked on the issue of gas drilling and municipal home rule.

Video courtesy of the Sidney Bi-Partisan Coalition, a group of anti-gas-drilling town officials and their supporters.