MDN attended a major meeting of the Central New York Landowner’s Coalition (CNYLC) on Saturday, April 10 at the Unadilla Valley Central School just outside of New Berlin, NY. The CNYLC, expecting record-breaking crowds, held two identical sessions on Saturday, one at 9:30 am and the other at 1:30 pm. The purpose of the meeting was to inform area residents about drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and to “make a loud statement” to New York’s political leaders that people in Central New York want drilling to happen.
The check-in lines were long as people arrived, with many brining a copy of their property deeds so they could begin the process of joining the Coalition and to find out if their property would qualify for drilling. Due to long lines and the high number of people attending, the session did not actually begin until after 10 am.
Three people addressed the morning crowd, which MDN estimated to be 600-700 people sitting the school’s sizeable gymnasium. Attendees sat on hard bleachers for nearly two hours, listening intently.
First to speak was Richard Lasky, the president of CNYLC. He opened his remarks by addressing a question he gets asked “all the time”: When will CNYLC negotiations begin with energy companies? His response was, “When the drilling moratorium from the Governor has been lifted.” Only when permits are granted will the energy companies return to the bargaining table with collations and landowners in New York State. Lasky said CNYLC and other coalitions across the State are trying to pressure the government to lift the ban on Marcellus drilling.
Lasky encouraged those attending to seek out the Coalition’s website and interactive online forum, which he says has received over 300,000 “hits” in the past two years. The online forum is a place for people pro- and anti-drilling to discuss what’s on their minds in relation to the issue of drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
Lasky also warned about unscrupulous landmen whom, he says, are still going around and telling landowners that energy companies will not sign with landowners who belong to coalitions—something Lasky says is a flat out lie. He urges landowners to not negotiate with landman, and above all, before signing anything, landowners absolutely must show it to a lawyer first. Even the standard lease that the CNYLC has crafted should be shown to a landowner’s personal attorney. Lasky said the CNYLC lease is an excellent lease, environmentally conscious, and that the CNYLC is “not a pushover coalition.”
The CNYLC is a non-profit, volunteer organization and the steering committee, including Mr. Lasky, are not compensated. Lasky said they need to fundraise in order to advertise and let area residents and government officials hear the landowner’s viewpoint on the matter of drilling in the Marcellus Shale. He said that, “It’s your land, your taxes, and your life.” You should be able to drill on your land if you want to.
Finally, in his closing comments after the other two speakers were done, Lasky said that landowners’ mineral rights and leases will not be “watered down” by joining the CNYLC. He was referring to the widely varying geology represented in the coalition. Depending on the goals of an energy company, some landowners’ geology will be more valuable than others, and according to Lasky, those landowners should receive move favorable lease terms. That is, the Coalition will not force a single energy company to take all of the land on the same terms. It’s likely that the Coalition will negotiate and enter into agreements with several different energy companies on behalf of its members. It is not a “one size fits all” Coalition.