Another New York Town Considers Fracking Ban

Yet another New York town, this one squarely in the Marcellus Shale “hot zone” of the Southern Tier area (Chemung County), is considering a ban on fracking if the state moves forward with allowing it.

Hydrofracking has now come under fire in yet another Southern Tier municipality. The Town of Horseheads is considering a fracking moratorium, which would delay gas drilling in the town if it’s approved by New York State.

The town board talked about it at Wednesday’s meeting after residents pushed for a discussion on the topic.

Board members are now studying fracking moratoriums that have been approved in other areas.

The town must tell the county and bordering villages if they plan to move ahead with the moratorium, but officials insist they still have a lot more investigating to do.

"We’re getting both sides of it. And we’re going to study this. We’re not just going to make a decision off the top of our head. I don’t have any idea at this point how the board feels about it," said Albert Curren, Horseheads Town Deputy Supervisor.

Officials hope to vote on a moratorium sometime in June or July.*

As MDN has commented previously, these towns open themselves to expensive lawsuits in pursuing bans before the courts have decided whether or not a ban is a form of regulation that is or is not allowed under state law. Also, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens has signaled that community sentiment will be part of the permit review process when and if drilling is allowed (see this MDN story). Translation: You ban it, you won’t get any wells. Property rights of landowners? A casualty of the fracking wars.

*YNN (May 10, 2012) – Horseheads considers fracking moratorium