hydraulic fracturing

Letter to the Editor: Fracking vs. Land Values

The latest from the Watershed Post's mailbag. For more Letters to the Editor, click here.

To The Editor,

A majority of Delaware County Supervisors have stated that they are in favor of Fracking for Natural Gas. In my local area, these include the supervisors of Middletown, Andes, Bovina, and Roxbury.

The Supervisors might change their position if they became more informed. They would then be able to see the consequences, perhaps unintended, of fracking on local land, property and home prices.

Gas leases are generally not acceptable by home mortgage lenders or the FHA. This applies to anyone where drilling takes place under or near their land, even if there is no well pad on their land.

NY State title insurance is not available if the property is used for gas drilling, a commercial activity.  Read more

City of Oneonta votes to ban gas drilling

The Oneonta Common Council voted yesterday to ban gas drilling within city limits, with little opposition. From today's Daily Star:

The vote was not unanimous. With Third Ward Alderman Erik Miller absent, Seventh Ward Alderman Liz Shannon abstained.

After the meeting, she said she supports the concept of banning natural gas drilling, but said the draft ordinance was poorly written.

The measure bans any new gas wells of any kind from operating within the city, and violators will be subject to a $250-a-day fine.

A little more background from Channel 34, which goes into more detail about the new law and its supporters:  Read more

More on last week's DRBC hearing in Deposit: Local pro-drillers speak out

Photo of crowd outside last week's DRBC hearing in Deposit by Lillian Browne.

On Wednesday, June 1, the Delaware River Basin Commission held a public hearing in Deposit to discuss whether or not the agency should grant XTO Energy a permit to withdraw water from the Oquaga Creek for hydraulic fracturing in Delaware and Broome Counties.

The hearing drew hundreds of people, but press coverage of it has been fairly sparse. We ran an item on the hearing last week, in which we linked to a story by the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin, which sent reporter Steve Reilly to cover the hearing. Reilly notes that the anti-drilling faction was well represented:

While both sides enjoyed healthy representation on Wednesday, the majority of the speakers spoke against the withdrawal.  Read more

State Assembly passes extended fracking moratorium

The New York State Assembly voted 91 to 46 yesterday to pass a bill that would ban the state from issuing any permits for hydraulic fracturing until June 1, 2012, the Albany Times Union reports:

Arguing that the state needs more time to assess the potential effects of the natural gas drilling technique known as hydrofracking, the state Assembly on Monday passed a moratorium on the issuance of new permits until June 1, 2012.

The bill won't  necessarily become law, however -- the state Senate has to approve it, as does Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Read more

Anti-frackers and DEC chief weigh in against XTO water withdrawal

Yesterday's Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) hearing at Deposit High School was packed, according to the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. The topic under discussion was XTO Energy's request to withdraw water from Broome County's Oquaga Creek to use in hydraulic fracturing:

About 300 people crowded into Deposit High School's auditorium for a hearing on XTO Energy's application to withdraw up to 250,000 gallons of water per day from Oquaga Creek in the Town of Sanford ...

While both sides enjoyed healthy representation on Wednesday, the majority of the speakers spoke against the withdrawal.

"A large withdrawal operation with a staging area for trucks and industrial activity would negatively affect the best use of this creek," said Sullivan County resident Carolyn Duke.  Read more

NY AG wallops feds with fracking lawsuit

Remember when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman threatened back in April to sue the federal government over hydraulic fracturing? He meant it.

The New York Daily News Daily Politics blog has posted the complaint that Schneiderman filed today against a slew of federal agencies.  (You can read the document below.)

Schneiderman is asking the courts to stop the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) from issuing regulations for hydraulic fracturing within the Delaware River basin. The gist of Schneiderman's argument is that the the various federal agencies that sit on the DRBC broke the law when they drafted regulations for fracking within the basin last year without first doing an environmental impact study.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to conduct "a full review of actions that may cause significant environmental impacts" before they allow them, Schneiderman argued in a press release today:

Schneiderman called on the federal government to comply with its NEPA obligations by suspending its consideration of the proposed regulations and undertaking a full review of all public health and safety risks posed by natural gas development in the Basin ... 

While the federal agencies determined that natural gas drilling in the Basin would potentially result in significant environmental impacts and that the study of those impacts should be performed, the DRBC’s lead agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, responded last week and made clear that it and the other member agencies would make no such commitment. The determination undermines the NEPA requirement.

As a result, Schneiderman announced today that he is filing a lawsuit in federal District Court in Brooklyn, where General DeLuca’s office is located, to compel an environmental review before regulations authorizing gas drilling are finalized.

Gannett's Star-Gazette has a good run-down of the forces behind the lawsuit. The story, written last week, quotes Peter DeLuca, the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official who is the federal point man on the DRBC, explaining that an impact study would be redundant and possibly beyond the DRBC's powers:  Read more

Deposit school to host DRBC hearing on fracking in the Delaware River Basin

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Above: The approximate location of the area XTO Energy is seeking to take water from, in the town of Sanford, Broome County. From Google Maps.  Read more

Town of Otsego bans fracking

According to a post by Adrian Kuzminski of Sustainable Otsego and the Daily Star, the town of Otsego decided on Wednesday to ban hydraulic fracking within its borders. From a post on the Sustainable Otsego website:

It is the first rural town in New York State to explicitly invoke its home rule authority to block gas drilling as a type of undesirable heavy industry incompatible with the town's comprehensive plan. The town acted in response to the overwhelming sentiment of the enrolled voters in the town opposed to gas drilling and heavy industry, documented through petitions and surveys as well as testimony at privilege of the floor and at a public hearing.

DRBC postpones decision on XTO water withdrawal permit

Yesterday, we reported that the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) was considering granting a permit to ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy to withdraw water for hydraulic fracturing from a trout stream in Broome County. According to a press release from Delaware Riverkeeper, the DRBC has tabled the decision for a future meeting.

XTO's permit application was on the docket for today's meeting. According to the draft docket from the DRBC describing the application, the company is seeking to withdraw up to 250,000 gallons a day from the Oquaga Creek, most of which would be used to stimulate horizontal and/or vertical natural gas wells by hydraulic fracturing in Delaware and Broome Counties.  Read more

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