The Town of Fremont, NY is heading toward a vote to ban hydraulic fracturing. Fremont is in Steuben County, and a ban would adversely affect the property rights of rural landowners in the township.
Town of Fremont officials are considering placing a moratorium on natural gas drilling for at least one year.
Town of Fremont Supervisor Tom Flansburg said, “It’s just a one year ban by all accounts. The fracking isn’t going [to] be here for three or four years. But we don’t want to take the chance. If they came here tomorrow we want to have something in place.”
One of the main reasons board members want to place the moratorium is their roads. They say if companies come in to drill for gas with heavy equipment and trucks and their roads are damaged, they want to have a law in place to make sure they’re fixed.
Flansburg said, “We’re just concerned if they came in tomorrow. If the roads get damaged, if we don’t have something in place, we don’t stand a chance.”
Flansburg also says the town is concerned about their three water reservoirs. They want to make sure hydrofracking won’t contaminate them.*
Under current New York State law, a vote to ban fracking by Freemont would be illegal. There are currently two cases in New York’s Supreme Court where similar municipal bans are being challenged in an attempt to re-establish that state law takes precedence over local law in regulating drilling. That is, unless new legislation on “home rule” introduced into the NY legislature becomes the new law (see this MDN story).
In the meantime, the taxpayers of Fremont should be prepared to spend money on lawyers to defend the town’s action if they decide to pass a ban.
*Elmira/Corning 18-WETM TV (Feb 14, 2012) – Town Of Fremont Considering Hydrofracking Moratorium