Binghamton Bans Fracking; Serious Allegation by Councilman

Closed for Business Until 2013After a 3 1/2 hour public hearing and a short recess, Binghamton (NY) City Council last night convened in regular session to vote on several matters, including Local Law 11-7, a law “to effect a prohibition of natural gas and petroleum exploration and extraction activities, underground storage of natural gas, and disposal of natural gas or petroleum extraction, exploration and production wastes.” City Council members voted 6-1 in favor of the two-year ban on fracking, joining other cities around the state like Buffalo and Syracuse that have done the same.

A vote like this must be viewed in context. The Binghamton City Council has seven members, all of whom are Democrats. Just a little over a month ago in the fall election, all seven seats were up for election. Three of those seats were won by Republicans who will join City Council on January 1, 2012. Additionally, two of the sitting Democrat council members did not run for re-election and will be replaced by new Democrats. Bottom line, five of the seven Council members in 2012 will be new—four Democrats and three Republicans. This was legislation passed by a very lame-duck group of officials with an agenda.

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Binghamton Public Hearing on Proposed Fracking Ban

Last night, to the frustration of some area residents, and to the glee of others, Binghamton City Council members made a loud political statement that the city is not interested in the natural gas drilling industry and the potential prosperity it would bring to the region. Council members voted 6-1 in favor of a two-year moratorium on drilling in the city. MDN attended the public hearing that preceded the vote, and stayed for the vote that followed. It was a long night.

The public hearing, which ran from 6:30 to 10:00 pm, heard from both residents and non-residents, each of whom was given three minutes to make a statement to Council members. MDN editor Jim Willis was among those commenting. By the time Council members had their say about why they would or would not support the ban, and then voted, it was close to 11:00 pm.

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