Longtime Albany, NY Mayor (and a Democrat!) Jerry Jennings has just vetoed a City Common Council measure to ban hydraulic fracturing inside the city.
In a two-page veto message, Jennings cited the fact that the state Department of Environmental Conservation is still taking public comment on its proposed regulations for hydrofracking, making any attempt to ban it premature.
"Until such time as this material is reviewed it is inappropriate to act legislatively and may expose the city to litigation," Jennings wrote in his memo, released a few minutes before 5 p.m.
That was the closest Jennings came to addressing the contention — forwarded by the gas industry and a city attorney — that any local attempt to ban drilling is pre-empted by state law.
Jennings also said he believed there was no land in the city that could be used for hydrofracking — an argument also employed by Common Council members who opposed the measure.
In New York, a gas company would need to control at least 60 percent of one square mile of land in order to drill — a threshold that some have said would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet in a city with such small lots.
Albany also does not sit atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale most coveted by gas companies, a fact that has prompted opponents of the ban to dub it purely symbolic. But the city does sit above the Utica Shale, which anti-fracking activists believe might become the next target.*
Common Council members who support the symbolic ban will now try to mount an override of the mayor’s veto, but the outcome of that effort is in doubt.
*Albany Times Union (Oct 27, 2011) – Jennings vetoes city ban on gas drilling