Sullivan County town of Delaware passes pro-drilling resolution

In the last year, several towns in Sullivan County have passed resolutions banning or imposing a moratorium on gas drilling within town borders. Last week, according to news accounts in the River Reporter and Sullivan County Democrat, the town of Delaware rolled out a welcome mat for gas drillers.

On Wednesday, June 20, the Delaware town council voted 4-0, with member Cindy Herbert abstaining, in favor of a resolution declaring that any landowner in the town who wishes to lease has the right to do so.

The Sullivan County Democrat quoted the brief resolution in its entirety:

Be it hereby resolved that any landowner or entity that owns the rights to minerals within the corporate bounds of the Town of Delaware has the right to determine how they exercise and protect their mineral rights in accordance to the laws of the State of New York and to the laws of the United States of America.

Be it further resolved that if gas drilling does come into the Town of Delaware, that those who are involved in the process of gas drilling and those who regulate the gas drilling process see to it that the entire process of gas drilling be made in a responsible and safe manner.

The resolution prompted a heated exchange between a local realtor and a council member, the River Reporter wrote:

Following the passage of the resolution, townsperson Rosie DeCristofaro said to the board, "I’m not going to sign up. I hold my property rights; I’m not going to do any of that. But I’m going to hold you guys responsible if something happens to my health, and not New York State. You are responsible for the health of the residents.”

[Council member Harold] Roeder responded, "That’s bullcrap. That is so over the top. What do you want me to do, bring a doctor to you in bed to see if you are okay, tuck you in tonight?"

Energy In Depth, a pro-industry news site, wrote that the resolution had been drafted by the Joint Landowners Coalition, a pro-drilling group representing New York State landowners.

Delaware's resolution is especially significant in light of what insiders say is a new strategy by the Cuomo administration, uncovered recently by reporter Danny Hakim of the New York Times, to limit gas drilling to places where drilling is officially welcomed by towns and the shale is deepest.

In a question-and-answer session about the new strategy, reporter Danny Hakim told a questioner he thought Sullivan County did not have much "local appetite" for the practice of hydrofracking, but apparently this is not the case in the town of Delaware. Hakim has not responded to several questions asked by the Watershed Post via Twitter about whether there could be drilling in Sullivan or Delaware counties; neither county was mentioned in the New York Times story, but both have significant local support for drilling and deep shale gas.

The town of Delaware is by no means united on the issue. In fact, Delaware, which includes the hamlet of Callicoon (not to be confused with the nearby town of Callicoon), is home to one of the anti-fracking movement's most famous activists, actor Mark Ruffalo.