Delaware County Asks NY State for $81.3B in Reparations

Paying $9 billion to build a new water filtration plant for New York City may look like a bargain compared to paying New York landowners the value of their mineral rights from shale gas drilling. That’s the point being made by the Delaware County Board of Supervisors with a recent resolution they passed in a 12-4 vote at their February meeting.

Delaware County Resolution No. 40 (copy embedded below) demands that New York State and New York City pay Delaware County landowners $81.3 billion in reparations over 60 years because the proposed new regulations drafted by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will effectively prohibit 80 percent of land in Delaware County from being drilled due to enormous setback provisions from the New York City watershed.

In order to avoid building a filtration system at the estimated cost of $9 billion, the city is seeking to broaden its ban on fracking in the watershed, from where it gets its unfiltered drinking water. The resolution states that DEC is seeking to add “a protective 4,000-foot buffer area around that watershed in addition the 1,000-foot setback from NYC subsurface infrastructure,” affecting a total of 503,000 acres.

In addition, DEC is proposing to strip property rights from landowners in the towns of Colchester, Hancock and Deposit “within two miles of city infrastructure, including tunnels outside the watershed.” The county estimates these restrictions will apply to an additional 250,000 acres of land.

“It’s not a resolution against or for fracking,” said Chairman [Jim] Eisel. “It is the taking of mineral rights of that land, so those people who may be sitting right on top of Marcellus Shale gas cannot benefit from these minerals under the ground.*

Look for other counties and landowner groups to follow Delaware County’s lead should New York decide to prohibit drilling.

Note: Thank you to the Catskill Mountain News for providing MDN with access to their article.

*Catskill Mountain News (Feb 28, 2012) – County wants $81.3B for local fracking ban (subscription required)