The residents of Avon, NY will have to come up with $50 million if a local driller wins a lawsuit filed earlier this month. Lenape Resources, a small, independent conventional (vertical) natural gas driller in western New York sued Avon, NY and the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) because of a broad-based ban on fracking and natural gas activities in the township passed in June.
Avon, in a misguided attempt to ban fracking, drafted and passed a new zoning law so broad it affected not only unconventional shale drilling but also conventionally drilled (vertical) gas wells. At the time, Lanape’s president John Holko threatened to sue both the town and the DEC if the ban was not rescinded (see this MDN story for background on the ban and Holko’s threat of a lawsuit). The ban stayed, the DEC has refused to enforce a 1981 state law that says only the DEC has the power to regulate drilling, so Holko has sued. He’s asking for compensation to reimburse him for the millions the company has invested in wells and other infrastructure in the township, and for lost revenue because he’s had to shut it all down.
Way to go Avon! Three town board members have just bankrupted your township.