Yesterday, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) launched a new public relations offensive in Albany, NY aimed at catching the attention of lawmakers. President of the JLCNY, Dan Fitzsimmons, along with other leaders of the coalition and state senators Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) and Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats), delivered a “Declaration of Landowner Rights” to lawmakers. The Declaration (a copy is embedded below) contains six points that the JLCNY says are constitutionally protected under federal and state law, and they are reasserting and claiming those rights.
Among remarks delivered at the press event, Fitzsimmons said:
“If you own land you can farm it, you can mine it for gravel, you can harvest the timber, you can build on it consistent with local codes…Today, however, there is a movement to deny people the right to develop their land. People with extreme political agendas want to tell us what we can and cannot do with our land.”*
The Declaration is obviously meant to keep up the pressure on lawmakers, and to perhaps nudge the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) along in its now four-year review process. It may also lay the foundation for future litigation, if it comes to that.
One of the six points says that well operators (drillers) should maintain transparency with the chemicals they use in fracking—that the chemicals used in fracking should be publicly available information. The JLCNY wants it known that landowners are the ultimate environmentalists because it’s their land and they will go to great lengths to protect it—which runs contrary to the anti-driller claim that it’s a “greedy few” who want drilling at the expense of the environment.
The JLCNY is made up of smaller, regional landowner coalitions. Collectively, the JLCNY represents some 70,000 landowners statewide, so when they speak, their collective voice is heard loud and clear. Let’s hope the lawmakers in Albany (and Joe Martens at the DEC) are listening.
*Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette (May 9, 2012) – Pro-drilling landowners assert rights in Albany