Fracking Ban in NY Town Closes Conventional Wells Too

The rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth frenzy to try and ban fracking by New York municipalities has now not only claimed possible future shale drilling, it’s also claimed casualties in traditional natural gas drilling. Collateral damage. Most New Yorkers are completely ignorant that fracking has been going on in New York for decades—fracking of vertical, conventional gas and oil wells. But they don’t (or won’t) bother to study the issue and try to understand it. It’s much easier to attend rallies and get worked up than it is to actually THINK.

And so the “wise leaders” of Avon Township in Livingston County, NY (western part of the state), against plenty of warning, passed a drilling ban on June 28 that includes not only shale gas horizontal drilling, but also includes conventional gas wells, pipelines and storage facilities. So a local driller has shut down their 16 gas wells in the township along with a pipeline, turning off low-cost gas that was flowing to the township itself. Way to go town board! Cut that nose off to spite your face. Dunderheads.

A natural gas producer has responded to an anti-fracking law in Avon, Livingston County, by shutting its existing wells and pipeline in the town.

The maneuver, which the producer said it is doing to comply with a town law passed in late June, will eliminate free natural gas supplies for a few property owners and force other customers — including the town government itself — to find new supplies. The company, Lenape Resources, also will cease paying royalties to the property owners on whose land the wells are located.

Like the measures approved by many New York municipalities, Avon’s one-year moratorium covers “natural gas and petroleum exploration and extraction activities, underground storage of natural gas and disposal of … extraction, exploration and production wastes.”

Lenape, an independent gas exploration and production company based in Alexander, Genesee County, has concluded that its existing wells and pipeline should close, at least until it clarifies if the law is valid.

“It’s the landowners that suffer. Landowners leased their mineral rights to Lenape so that we can develop those mineral rights, and the town of Avon just took those rights away,” Lenape president John Holko said in a statement.*

Embedded below is a letter from Holko sent to landowners whose wells were turned off and those connected to the Lenape-owned pipeline, explaining their action.

The news media tries to position this as some sort of stunt on the part of Lenape. It is not. Words, especially words found in laws, mean things and have consequences. The so-called leaders of Avon need to rethink the ban they voted for.

Avon is a cautionary lesson to other locations considering a ban.

*Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin (Jul 9, 2012) – Gas driller shuts down operation in Avon