61 towns block fracking in New York State

The anti-fracking movement in the United States is gaining in strength and numbers. In New York State, 21 towns have declared bans; a further 40 have declared moratoria; 35 have movements for a ban or a moratorium (see here for an interactive map).

Dozens of municipalities have adopted zoning ordinances that remove natural gas exploration and extraction from the list of permissible land uses within their borders.

Numerous citizen-led organisations – such as Sustainable Otsego, Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, Chenango Community Action for Renewable Energy, Gas-Free Seneca, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Catskill Mountainkeeper (and many more) – have led the fights against the hydraulic fracturing industry.

Sandra Steingraber, a biologist and scholar-in-residence at Ithaca College, termed the movement “the biggest since abolition and women’s rights in New York.”

And in local elections last November, scores of anti-fracking candidates, many of whom had never before run for office, displaced pro-gas incumbents in positions as town councilors, town supervisors and county legislators.

The movement centres on legal moves to give municipalities the power to prevent the gas industry operating within a town’s jurisdiction. In the small town of Ulysses, for example, councillors were opposed to fracking, but couldn’t see how to prevent it. Activists, however, recognised that if enough registered Ulysses voters signed a petition, the board would have the popular backing it needed for declaring a ban.

A six-month-long door-to-door campaign followed, and when 1,500 out of 3,000 registered voters signed the town council voted to ban fracking.

The movement centres on unpaid volunteers, sometimes putting in thousands of hours, to oppose the fracking industry. On the other side, billion-dollar corporations flood the airwaves with pro-gas ads.

The industry has not had things all its own way, however. When New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation issued new draft guidelines for the industry, they received 40,000 objections. Agency officials had told the New York Times they didn’t know of any other issue that had received 1,000 submissions. Anti-drilling submissions outnumber those of drilling supporters by at least ten to one. A meeting to implement the guidelines was cancelled when thousands of activists rallied outside the building.

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8 Responses to 61 towns block fracking in New York State

  1. Pingback: 61 towns block fracking in New York State « blogivg

  2. Pingback: New Zealand city joins Frack Free movement | gasdrillinginbalcombe

  3. Tim Cana says:

    This preview of an e-book indicates that industry knows of the damage they do. Click on the Sneak Peek of “A Revolution Underground” at the top right of the webpage. http://www.landownerassociation.ca/

    From A Revolution Underground:
    Cases of groundwater contamination related to hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have been
    documented in academic journals as far back as 1983, when Groundwater Journal published the article “Evaluating System for Ground-Water Contamination Hazards Due to Gas-Well Drilling on the Glaciated Appalachian Plateau” by Samuel S. Harrison, then a professor of geology at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania

  4. Pingback: Seachange– Shale Gas Economics and Local Opposition to Fracking Redefine Political Landscape « Solid Shale

  5. Ms McWhirter, since I’m soft on you – here’s is a bit of the above regulations I know you’ll love to get your teeth into:
    Assessment of conditions below ground

    14.—(1) Before the design of a well is commenced the well-operator shall cause—
    (a) the geological strata and formations, and fluids within them, through which it may pass; and
    (b) any hazards which such strata and formations may contain,
    to be assessed.

    (2) The well-operator shall ensure that account is taken of the assessment required by paragraph (1) when the well is being designed and constructed.

    (3) The well-operator shall ensure that, while an operation (including the drilling of the well) is carried out in relation to the well, those matters described in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph (1) shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, be kept under review and that, if any change is observed in those matters, such modification is made, where appropriate, to—

    (a) the design and construction of the well; or
    (b) any procedures,
    as are necessary to ensure that the purposes described in regulation 13(1) will continue to be fulfilled.

    {that should be “or”, not “of” between NY & UK in the 1st line of my post above}

  6. Is our concern New York of the United Kingdom? If the latter, these are the applicable reglations {which unfortunately have not been implemented in New York State} http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1996/913/contents/made

    Part IV applies to wells, both on- & off-shore.

    • Hi Micheal – thanks for the regs. I’m worried about the integrity of the well over time. Do you know which provisions look at the maintenance of the well over its lifespan? GDIB

      • Design with a view to suspension and abandonment

        15. The well-operator shall ensure that a well is so designed and constructed that, so far as is reasonably practicable—

        (a) it can be suspended or abandoned in a safe manner; and
        (b) after its suspension or abandonment there can be no unplanned escape of fluids from it or from the reservoir to which it led.

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