Not sure if this is old news to you guys but worth reading if not
PHOENIX MILLS _ Otsego County's Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee on Wednesday rejected a resolution that would have called on the state to ban hydraulic fracturing in the county until an EPA study shows it can be done safely.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as hydro-fracking or fracking, is the process of injecting large quantities of water, sand and chemicals into drilled natural gas wells. The intense pressure from the fracking solution cracks shale thousands of feet underground, often increasing the flow of gas.
Fracking, developed by the Halliburton Corporation, was exempted from the federal Safe Drinking Act by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which also gives energy corporations the right to use federal eminent domain laws.
The two-page resolution considered Wednesday was crafted by Rep. Richard Murphy, a Democrat from the town of Oneonta. It was opposed by the committee's three Republicans, Chairman Stephen Fournier of Milford, James Powers of Butternuts and Keith McCarty of Springfield.
Before the vote, Murphy said he had perused similar resolutions passed by Tompkins and Cortland counties and tried to draft a version that would work well in Otsego County.
`Whether you are opposed to drilling and fracking or looking for ways to get it done safely, I think this is something we should do," he said.
By delaying the onset of widespread drilling and fracking, the county and its residents would have time to prepare for the changes that intense development will bring, he said.
"I've tried to look at the impacts and the opportunities before us," Murphy said.
Fournier said he has discussed fracking with employees of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation and others, including Scott Fickbohm, the county's Soil & Water district manager, and, "There is no documented case of where hydro-fracking has directly been shown to have caused harm to an aquifer."
Where problems have occurred, driller error, not the process, has been at fault, Fournier said.
"It's about poor casings," he said.
"I don't like wasting my time on things like this; this is political," Fournier said. "I think our focus needs to be on what we can do."
He added that if the state were to stop fracking, landowners might sue, arguing that a ban amounted to an illegal taking of the money they could be making.
Murphy said lands leased to natural gas drillers often devalue not only the occupied parcel, but also adjacent land, a shift in values that might also be viewed as a taking.
"That's not always the case," Fournier said.
"Personally I have concerns, and especially when the state said it would exempt the New York City and Syracuse water supply systems," McCarty said. "I have two reservoirs, four lakes and my own well to worry about, and I am concerned."
However, he didn't like the wording of the resolution, he said. "I'm not going to vote for anything that says `ban."'
Murphy said he was open to rewording the resolution to gain wider support. He could bring a resolution before the full board, but would need a two-thirds majority to have it considered.