Delaware County Asks NY State for $81.3B in Reparations

Paying $9 billion to build a new water filtration plant for New York City may look like a bargain compared to paying New York landowners the value of their mineral rights from shale gas drilling. That’s the point being made by the Delaware County Board of Supervisors with a recent resolution they passed in a 12-4 vote at their February meeting.

Delaware County Resolution No. 40 (copy embedded below) demands that New York State and New York City pay Delaware County landowners $81.3 billion in reparations over 60 years because the proposed new regulations drafted by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will effectively prohibit 80 percent of land in Delaware County from being drilled due to enormous setback provisions from the New York City watershed.


In order to avoid building a filtration system at the estimated cost of $9 billion, the city is seeking to broaden its ban on fracking in the watershed, from where it gets its unfiltered drinking water. The resolution states that DEC is seeking to add “a protective 4,000-foot buffer area around that watershed in addition the 1,000-foot setback from NYC subsurface infrastructure,” affecting a total of 503,000 acres.

In addition, DEC is proposing to strip property rights from landowners in the towns of Colchester, Hancock and Deposit “within two miles of city infrastructure, including tunnels outside the watershed.” The county estimates these restrictions will apply to an additional 250,000 acres of land.

“It’s not a resolution against or for fracking,” said Chairman [Jim] Eisel. “It is the taking of mineral rights of that land, so those people who may be sitting right on top of Marcellus Shale gas cannot benefit from these minerals under the ground.*

Look for other counties and landowner groups to follow Delaware County’s lead should New York decide to prohibit drilling.

Note: Thank you to the Catskill Mountain News for providing MDN with access to their article.

*Catskill Mountain News (Feb 28, 2012) – County wants $81.3B for local fracking ban (subscription required)

  • Anonymous

    Ridiculous. When property owners speculate on mineral resources they have been told MIGHT exist, and MIGHT be profitably extracted, and then demand a government handout when the government delays their RIGHT to speculate, you know something is really out of whack. It’s as if you went to a casino, found a Closed sign on the door, and yelled, I WANT MY MONEY! NOW!!

  • Anonymous

     Not quite Bob, but good try. These drilling companies already know what is under the ground. There is no ” might be” in this equation. Now you have all the Liberal NYC folks throwing there millions around to stop certain ” Areas” from being developed. N.Y. state law allows land owners to develop and receive profits from ” Their” land be it at the surface or under ground. The Government basically taking over control of the resource using ” Eminent Domain” doctrine, will not fly. There are no secrets Bob, there is money under every residents feet in those Counties, and they all should be compensated for the “Taking” of their mineral rights.Once again a government knee jerk reaction to appease NYC money bag Liberals. There has been ” NO” proof that any water system was contaminated from the fracking process. With that said, there should not be any exceptions to the SGEIS, if NY does, then they must compensate all those affected, that’s not a handout, its compensation for lost income.

  • Anonymous

     “money under every residents feet in those Counties…”  LOL. 
    Eminent domain? Nonsense. 

    Why has no one brought a lawsuit to substantiate this ridiculous claim? Because it would be dismissed in any court.

  • Anonymous

    Just like the towns that are trying to ban drilling. It might be a frivolus waste of time but they can give it a shot and maybe some judge will site the wrong laws to substantiate the claim in a lower court. Then it would go to a higher court and most likely be thrown out. Here is the difference. Deleware county HAS BEEN supplying NYC with its water with no compensation. They can prove that the regulations made by the DEC in the rdSEGIS will stop them from utilizing their land for the exploration and  procurement of natural resources DUE TO THE FACT THAT NYC has not installed a filtration system for sediment which could be caused by a disruption to their antiquated aquaducting system. The faults in the water delivery system are not the problem of the residents of Deleware county they are the problem of the 9M NYC residence. Therefore the normal prudent man would agree that the inaction of NYC to filter its water will hinder the ability of the Deleware County resident to utilize his land legally in the manner they see fit. If their resolution is denied by the state the next step will be to sue. Laugh all you want (we all know it’s a nervous laugh) it’s going to happen. And so is HVHF for NG in NY.

  • Anonymous

     The question to be answered is why is the Government, removing the mineral rights from these Landowners, Bob? If there is no evidence that NG exists in these Counties, then why are they going to these lengths to block landowner rights? The next big question is HVHF has been proven to be safe, SO, (only to appease the wealthy NYC Liberals, sitting in their muti-million dollar high rises) Why is there a  “need” to change only these set backs from the other aquifers of equal importance Ex.( Lakes, Streams, Wells,etc.).The simple answer is that politics is the only reason. There will be billions of dollars taken away from landowners to appease the few millionaires that feed millions of dollars in to politicians pockets. That has always been the NY way. But guess what Bob, that won’t work in a court of law. I’ll bet you right now, that when the SGEIS is finalized, and those proposed setbacks are in it, the lawsuit will be in the next day.The only reason the suits are not in now, as you asked, is because the SGEIS has not been finalized, we are still in the review period, but its coming very soon.

  • Anonymous

    Look at PA. Almost half the gas is coming from just 2 counties, Bradford & Susquehanna. And most of that is coming from a few dozen top-producing wells in a few sweet spots. Hundreds of dry holes all over the state, and thousands of other wells under-producing and gas prices have tanked to 10-yr lows. And this is PA, in the center of the fairway. 

    Yet if you’re in the NYC watershed, way on the margins of the play, where the gas is shallow and thinned out, most of it not worth the investment to explore and drill, you still think you’ve won the lottery and the state is refusing to recognize your ticket. You’ve declared every landowner a winner and you want to be “compensated” with billions of dollars of taxpayer handouts because your infantile fantasies of unearned pots of gold are being put on hold by state regulations. 

    I can’t wait to see what happens in court.

  • Anonymous

     Bob, If there are drilling companies willing to pay thousands of dollars for leases,do you think they might know something you don’t? They are in the business to make money not give it away. If a drilling company comes to me and says I want to pay you (what ever amount of money) to lease my land for the right to drill, how is it that NY Government can step in and say no? These companies have geologists who studied the Shale formations many years ago. If they made a mistake and find that no NG exists then its their problem not the landowners, at a great loss I might add. But I have to believe that they know much more about this than you or I. Again, the only reason NY government set these ridiculous setbacks was only to appease the wealthy NYC residents. Do you think that it is fair to every NY resident to single out one particular body of water from another ? I can’t wait to see how fast a judge throws out that “added” SGEIS setback. Whats good for one body of water is good for all. Drilling has been found to be safe. So a judge will have no choice but to be fair and Non-partisan. My fantasies as you say are real Bob, I believe in a free enterprise system. If I’m lucky enough to own property that has the potential to make money then who the hell are you or our NY government to tread on my good fortune. get out of the way Bob, there is gold in them thar hills, and these drilling companies will get every drop of it, and I hope and pray that the many families that are barely holding on to those properties get to reap the riches of that blessing. It jealous self righteous people like you that get in the way. I know Bob, you already got yours so screw everyone else, typical Liberal mindset.

  • Anonymous

    “If there are drilling companies willing to pay thousands of dollars for leases,do you think they might know something you don’t?”  

    Since its high back in mid 2008, Chesapeake’s stock has lost about two-thirds of its value. What did all those people who dumped CHK shares know that you and Chesapeake didn’t know?

    Your childish logic is exactly what I mean. O&G exploration has always been a crap shoot. Anyone who tries arguing in court that it’s a sure thing will be making a complete ass of themselves.

  • Anonymous

    Point taken Bob, if all you say is true, then why does our NY government have to get involved in that process? You still don’t get what I’m saying, Our Government and you are jumping to a conclusion without letting free enterprise play out. If a drilling company says they want to lease a certain property for drilling rights in those counties that NY government wants to take away, those Landowners” LOST “their ability to profit from that lease. It is not a decision you ,I or NY government should interfere with. If there is NO NG on those properties shame on the companies that leased them. So, Bob, you “may” be correct that there is limited or no NG, but the landowners who have a constitutional right to sign a lease will not be given that  right if NY government steps in a blocks that process from occurring.Why is this so difficult for you to grasp? Let me give you a easy example to follow here. You and I are neighbors, and you want to plant a tree in your back yard, you like that tree, you want that tree, but I say I don’t want you to plant it because you’ll block my view of the hillside. I then take you to court and the judge awards ME the victory and says you cant plant your tree.Pisses you off wouldn’t it?  Get it!!  Taking away landowners rights in one area is unconstitutional. I still hope you believe in our constitution, don’t you? So, as a Landowner myself, I don’t need you or NY Government to tell me what I can or can’t do with MY property. Our laws are written and certain regulations apply to “everyone equally”. If my ability to profit from my land is impinged upon by our NY Government( for no other reason but to appease the NYC wealthy Liberals), then the only resolution would be “just” compensation for my loses. Not a hand out Bob, that’s what the saying ” Don’t tread on me” was meant for, people like you or certain liberal politicians in office that think they know what is best for me and my family. I have done just fine making decisions on whats best for me and my family, its the government and people like you sticking your noses in everyone’s business that has brought this country where it is today. Let free enterprise reign and get government out of the way, then watch the economy come back. You have been lulled into the Obama, socialist way of thinking. He is a snake in sheep’s clothing and wants to control and rule everything we do. I pray this November everyone wakes up or this country will be in very serious trouble.

  • Anonymous

    When NYC and the anti’s argue for these watershed bans, they are way, way, way over the top with their speculations that these areas will be overrun with “thousands” of drilling rigs (which is a complete impossibility, based just on rig counts).

    But now — when upstate landowners demand some kind of consideration for their lost opportunities — NYC and the anti’s say…  Hey, there’s nothing there, it’s all speculative, we just went to a lot of trouble to politically deprive you guys of something we never really thought would happen.

    Only in NY do we reward people for demanding everything both ways.

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