Binghamton Fracking Ban Will Stay; The Real Impact

Homer Simpson Woo HooIt now looks as though the fracking ban in Binghamton, NY will stay in place for the next two years. Binghamton City Council voted to pass the legislation Wednesday night (see MDN’s coverage here). Yesterday, Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan signed the legislation into law. Interviews with several of the incoming new Council members, including Republicans, show there is no appetite to attempt a repeal of the new law.

The ban is unlikely to face serious opposition from an incoming Binghamton City Council that will include five new members next year, and only two returning incumbents.

Any modification or repeal of the local law by city council could be vetoed by Ryan, and it would take the consent of six of the seven council members to override his veto.

Incoming Republican Chris Papastrat expressed concern the ban might make the city appear unfriendly to the gas industry, but said he would put his focus elsewhere when he takes office.

"Things my constituents talk about are street lights, the streets themselves, crime and economic growth," he said. "Those are the things that we’re going to try to concentrate on rather than things that are symbolic."

The two city council members who will retain their seats in 2012 — Teri Rennia, D-3rd District, and Lea Webb, 4th District — both voted in favor of the ban Wednesday night.

Incoming council members John Matzo, a Republican, and William Berg, a Democrat, both said they had more research to do before forming opinions on the drilling ban.

Neither Papastrat nor Matzo said action related to the ban would be on the top of their list upon taking office.

"It’s kind of a back-burner type of thing," Matzo said. "There’s still people that aren’t back in their homes yet (following the flood)."*

As MDN previously reported, Councilman Martin Gerchman, who voted against the ban, said that at least one other council member inferred he knew a majority of residents were against the ban but felt it was OK to vote for it (that is, it’s OK to govern against their will) because he felt it was “right.” MDN believes Mayor Ryan also knew a majority of Binghamton residents do not support the legislation and therefore had to ram it through before losing support from an all-Democrat City Council. He as much as admitted it to the local newspaper:

The composition of the city council, Ryan said in an interview afterward, was "one of the reasons I wanted to get it done before the end of the year."*

Looks like the only way the ban will end will is to wait for the two years to expire, or for a lawsuit to overturn it. No one actually wants to drill in Binghamton, making a lawsuit unlikely. The ban is nothing more than a political statement on the part of Democrat Mayor Matt Ryan and the all-Democrat City Council. So it’s likely the ban will remain in place for the next two years.

The real consequence and impact of this ban will be when drilling finally begins in New York—perhaps in 2012, certainly by 2013. At that point, look for drilling companies and those who support them to avoid doing business in Binghamton. Way to go Matt. You’re a real genius. Woo hoo.

*Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (Dec 23, 2011) – Binghamton mayor signs law banning gas drilling

  • Anonymous

    Jim, you are shameless. You whine constantly about the irrational noise from anti-drilling groups but you block my pro active suggestion to all landowners to take action that could possibly speed up drilling in the state; that is to email the company, Gasfrac Energy Services, encouraging them to deploy their newest equipment to N.Y.S.What do you have against this company that can legally frack now because their process is waterless? Why do your refuse to endorse a system that produces better than hydro-fracturing?  I can only conclude that you refuse to inform yourself or you don’t really have the landowners as your primary concern.

  • Jim Willis

    I’ve addressed this before but will do so again. New technology that doesn’t use water and is better overall? All for it! But, it’s not commercially deployed yet–not widely. And it’s more expensive than using water. And above all, there’s nothing wrong with the way it’s being done now *with* water!

    You comment relentlessly on my site about this new technology, so much so I do not approve your (almost daily) comments. Makes me think you either work for Gasfrac, or have a lot of money invested in the company. Anyone who is promoting their services on my site via the comments finds I don’t approve their comments–you’re not alone in that regard. Make a comment that contributes to the conversation, and include a link to a site in your signature block, no problem, I’ll approve it. But endlessly promote? No thanks. Please dial down the frequency of your comments and I’ll be happy to approve them so you can remind us from time to time of this new technology.

  • Anonymous

    Jim:  Upstate NY has been watching this topic with interest.  Your sarcastic comment to outgoing Mayor Matt Ryan is out of line, I feel.  If there are serious environmental and contamination concerns with hydrofracking and people want to be prudent about having it in their areas, why verbally attack him for legally instituting a ban to protect his city?  Something that escapes those who are dying to have it is the fact that those who are anti-frackers are concerned about ALL of us, not just those who would be impacted by gas drilling. The majority of the people who want it don’t even realize what fracking entails; if they did, they might not be too eager to embrace it.

    I went door-to-door in my area and found only a handful who actually want hydrofracking, so having so many at a meeting that are opposed to it doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority want it as you said for your area. And in another comment, it is unfair to say the “environmental movement is so close minded” when so many of them are concerned about how this will impact humans and animals and are trying to keep the public informed.  If there’s a link to health problems, naturally they are going to be against it!

    The current high-volume gas drilling process uses chemicals in their fluids known to cause cancer, as  well as other health concerns. Because of this, Halliburton has a new fracking formulation called CleanStim (to give the public the idea that it’s “clean”) whose materials are sourced from the food industry. Halliburton lists the contents of CleanStim as: enzyme, exthoxylated sugar-based
    fatty acid ester, inorganic and organic acids, inorganic salt, malt
    dextrin, organic ester, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,
    polysaccharide polymer, and sulfonated alcohol. This still doesn’t address ALL of the chemicals they’re using for this new fluid, only those they want to divulge to the public.

    ( )

    I would hope that the the state government (DEC, EPA) takes a serious look into the TOTAL composition of this new fluid before allowing it to be utilized. Gas companies have mislead the public before in their public announcement, even to say they only use “water and sand.” 

    Why not look into what other companies offer as a waterless alternative, if these methods are safer?  I maintain, however, that these “waterless” methods need to be under the same scrutiny for how they propose to implement this. I’m all for helping the economy but I don’t want it to be at the expense of anyone’s health. Drilling 8000 feet into the ground has to present some risks.


  • Anonymous

    Jim, I don’t own stock of Gasfrac , cant afford it. But it is what Extent11 says,the way around SGEIS and the anti movement. I would gladly give up some of the “profitability” to get the engine running in NY. We are stalled, and at the mercy of ” Radical” Democratic Anti’s ramming false information and scare tactics down our throats and to the general ( uneducated) public. keeping that type of rhetoric up on TV, Radio, Public hearings, and Newspapers with out us rebutting everything they say will create disaster here.We must shove back. Gasfrac and hopefully other companies that will inherit this technology will take over drilling. If there is better technology out there it is your duty as well as mine to get that information to everyone and anyone willing to listen. This company needs to expand and requires financial backing. I have written before of my hopes that the”big guys”( XTO, Shell or Cheasepeake) with very deep pockets will financially help them move forward quickly.They have drilled in Canada, and Texas. I believe they are in Wyoming now, too. We can bypass all of this hoopla, and completely have the ” Water “issues go away as well as quell some of the Anti’s screaming. They can actually drill now in NY under the old permitting rules due to the fact NO WATER is needed. basically thats what the SGEIS is all about !! Dont you think that is huge enough? Jim, they have been commercially deployed, they are just a small company that needs funding and equipment for a more rapid expansion. By the way if I did have money to invest , I would certainly put it in that company!!

  • Anonymous

    Jim since I am not sitting next to Exdent11 (nor do I know him at all) I can’t say what his motives are here, but I too cannot understand why GasFrac and one of the largest Gas/Oil drilling Co.(Exxon, Shell, Hess, Chesepeake, etc.) have not latched on to this technology and championed it in NY. It would shut the “contamination cospiracy” people right up. NY would not be able to stop this type of fracking with it PRESENT SEGIS and NY could be up and running in the Marcellus play- RIGHT NOW! I know you are very well versed with the pulse of the industry. Can you shed some light as to why this is not being done here in OUR home state – where everyday I open the MDN e-mail with hopes to see some positive news that NY will jump into this. I get NOTHING from the JLCNY except “please send another letter to Martens and Cuomo”. The coordinator of my own Landowners group in Tioga county never heard of MDN and after I informed him in Nov. about it, STILL has not sent an e-mail to all of the members as to the exisitence of this site. Many of the members are so ill informed about this(anything to do with fracking) it’s not funny.
    I don’t think Exdent is looking for a fight, he is like me and you. He is looking for a solution to get NY going and the way it looks now, our Pol’s are not embracing the traditional sand/water/chemical method of fracking- I think that is why we see delay after delay after delay. I think they are hoping that this technology takes off so they can throw their hands in the air to the anti’s and say “well there is nothing we can do about this” and not look like the bad guys to them. Maybe I am wrong about this, I don’t know. All I know is I have no lease and 21 miles to the south of me there is prosperity booming and I can’t get in on that action.
    PS- On a lighter note Merry Christmas to all :o)

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks for commenting Pen. I feel that the sneaky way Ryan and the Democrat City Council forced this through is way out of line. You can expect sarcasm and snark from me when I feel it’s warranted, and in this case, it is! But I appreciate your point. And if you have health studies proving a link between fracking and health issues, please send it to me. I would be more than happy to review it & post it.

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks. You always leave great comments. I understand the exasperation of “get going with this great new technology already.” And I will do more research on it and interview Gasfrac, so watch for that in coming weeks. But my exasperation is with daily comments on the topic when they aren’t warranted, and that was my response to Extent11. You can’t argue there’s a bigger supporter than I am to get this going NOW and do it safely. My further point is that the way it’s being done now (with water) IS safe, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water in our eagerness to get going in New York. Believe me when I say, those who oppose drilling will also find something about this new technology to oppose as well. Why? Because it’s still extracting a fossil fuel and in their viewpoint it’s evil. So don’t be hasty in dumping water fracking. I’m not ready to concede that fracking as it’s done now is not safe. I think it is.

  • Jim Willis

    Thanks Blueflames. See my comment to wacoyaco on this. Merry Christmas to you too!

  • Anonymous

    Well.Nice  to see you back and commenting, kinda missed you a bit there, I felt like a lone wolf crying in the dark LOL, I do agree with your response. I replied to Meryl’s post the same way. She is a reasonable, Anti at least willing to debate fact, and I respect her views, as I do yours. When I proposed the 5 W’s( Who, What, Where, When, Why) in any investigation, she seemed receptive, but I did not here back from Meryl or Wozniak when they were confronted with fact. I also believe that fracking ( the conventional way) is safe,and no I am not willing to throw the” baby out with the bath water” at all.I am truly happy that you are inquiring about, Gasfrac.I’m sure when the 5 w’s are answered, you will also come to the same conclusion. I have been following them for about 9 months now and see some light finally shining through for this company. My opinion of their extraction process using LPG, blew me away!!  I am also convinced that their extraction technique will eventually take over the present technique, not because it is better per say, but because it will take the “water’ situation out of the equation ( getting it from streams,transporting it, cleaning it, storing it, etc),nullifying the SGEIS. To me that is huge. I also know the Anti’s will say ” NO’ to anything drilling, or find something else to scream about,but I believe it will help get “our” cause to come to fruition in NY faster. Martens is an puppet and a stone cold Anti, Cuomo, what can I say about Andy basically placating NY’ers with the Lame “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” video.staying neutral on drilling, but putting people back to work on bridges and roads with BORROWED money from pension funds, made me want to throw up. If the NY Democrats bought that one we are all in deep trouble, this will cripple the city and  all NY’ers financially in years to come, when Andy is out of office, and probably running for President.
      I truly like what your doing on MDN, to me its the most informative, up to date, and the most fair reporting of the Marcellus Shale. I have been on Anti forums and they just do not report all the facts. You report both sides even though some of the news is not so good.Merry Christmas to you and your family, and keep up the good work!! Merry Christmas to you too, JW, 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I am all for the ban in Bingingham because that gives the companies extra money not spent in your community to come to ours. Fracking is MORE than safe and banning it is sheer ignornace of the facts and people running your communities. The private landowners in Ohio welcomes the investing companies, so leave Bingingham alone and feel free to generate jobs, a steady tax revenue and GREAT jobs in our state. The lack of understanding of those in Bingingham only strengthens us in Ohio…thanks to you and your voting citizens, your banning will give us a prosperous New Year for the year 2012 and beyond!!!

  • Jim Willis

    Many thanks. And a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! And please keep commenting. 🙂

  • Jim Willis

    Yes, I have the feeling that our loss is your gain, and I don’t begrudge you that at all. I’m just profoundly sad at our own lack of intelligence.

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