Our coverage of Avon’s town hydrofracking moratorium and a community forum in Groveland has stirred lots of response this week. Due to space constraints, we haven’t printed every letter to the editor we received, but we’ll try to get the rest in next week.
I especially appreciate Jordan Kleiman’s clarifications. There was a lot to absorb in the presentations in Groveland, and I attempted to faithfully reflect the speaker’s message. I asked both Kleiman and John Holko, the gas company executive, for copies of their Powerpoint presentations to assist me in putting together the story. Neither provided that information.
I hope Livingston County News readers were able to take away the gist of the presentations even if their scope and technical detail are impossible to convey in a short news story.
The best way to stay informed, I’d suggest, is to attend such forums in person — especially public leaders who may have to make decisions that could change the landscape and economy of our region forever.
Kleiman is, of course, right. A journalist should question the authority of source material used in a public presentation. I will strive to be more sensitive to the credibility of facts cited in meetings I attend. I would expect Lenape Resources could call into question points presented by Kleiman, Bob Thompson and our many letter writers this week.
High volume natural gas development is a zero sum game with little room for compromise. Both sides have deeply vested interests in blocking the goals of their opposition. Either the industry will be allowed to pump millions of gallons of fracking chemicals into the ground, or they won’t. Likewise, either Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation respect the right of home rule or they don’t.
In an interview with New York State Public Radio earlier this month, the governor previewed the hydrofracking policy his administration will issue later this summer. “Obviously, if a community says that they oppose it, that should be taken into consideration,” said Cuomo.
On the other hand, the town board of Windsor, near Binghampton, has passed what could be most accurately described as an “anti-moratorium.”
“We…find pursuit of a ban or moratorium to be an irresponsible and premature misallocation of town resources pending the release of the state’s final [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement ],” says a board resolution. “We have confidence the state will develop a program that allows development of our natural gas resources to proceed in a safe, responsible, and competitive manner.”
While state government wrestles with whether or not to allow towns to be the arbiter in the future of natural resource development in New York, civil court judges will eventually be asked to decide whether home rule supplants the right of an individual property owner to develop his or her land to the fullest extent of the law. The courts will also be asked to decide whether neighbors of gas lease holders may claim damages caused by drilling.
Hydrofracking is a gigantic issue that represents to the gas industry billions of dollars and to opponents the threat of irreversible cultural transformation and potential environmental harm.
New York is poised to lead the country in the responsible development of its natural resources — and that means allowing local governments with the most direct contact with New York residents to weigh in on whether to proceed.
We’re asking a lot of our town boards as they listen to compelling, well-supported presentations from both sides of the issue and sift through thousands of pages of documentation.
The Livingston County News will do its best to keep up, keep you informed, and provide a forum for free expression.