Syracuse Bans Fracking Inside City Limits

In a purely symbolic gesture, the Syracuse (NY) Common Council yesterday voted to ban the use of hydraulic fracturing inside city limits to drill for natural gas. It’s symbolic because new drilling rules, if ever released in New York, specifically prohibit drilling in the Syracuse watershed area. But politicians like Democrat Kathleen Joy, the driving force for getting the ban adopted, don’t let facts get in the way of political grandstanding.

Opponents of a controversial gas drilling process known as hydrofracking are applauding the Syracuse Common Council’s ban on the practice. But the gas industry says fracking is safe and the bans enacted in numerous communities are illegal because only the state has authority to regulate the industry.

Syracuse joins Albany and Buffalo in banning hydrofracking.

Syracuse Council Majority Leader Kathleen Joy spearheaded the legislation in her city. She says it will send a message to state regulators that communities have the right to protect themselves from potential health and environmental hazards.*

*Wall Street Journal/AP (Oct 25, 2011) – Syracuse council bans fracking of gas wells

  • Drill, Safely, Drill — NY Shal

    In the interests of keeping MDN as clear and accurate as possible (and in maintaining the sharp, factual contrast between it and most of the anti-drill literature), let me just point out that the already protected watershed from which Syracuse draws most of its domestic water lies entirely outside the city.  That watershed is any land draining to Skaneateles Lake.

    But you’re right in saying the city’s ban is purely symbolic.  This is because:  1) Marcellus Shale outcrops south of Syracuse, and so it doesn’t even exist under the city.  2) Utica Shale is widely considered to be too shallow to be producible for shale gas this far northerly.  3) There are very few suitable drillsite locations within or adjoining most upstate cities.  4) Industry is likely to put on the back-burner any areas where they must sign up hundreds of house-lot landowners just to put together a 640-acre unit.

    A much more consistent and principled measure by Syracuse’s full-of-themselves councilors would be to ban the use of all natural gas inside city limits, and to force all residents to heat their houses with coal, firewood, or electricity (if produced from out of town).  Tell me again how that would improve the environment or the economy?

  • As always, thanks for keeping me on track! Well said.

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