After 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.