Sunday, April 15, 2012

FRACKING Ban on Agenda for Town of Fallsburg Board Work Session Tomorrow Night, April 16th

Why Fallsburg MUST Ban Fracking...would you want this for your children?

 Stuff Happens...too often with fracking.
Just a heads up for all those within the "Town of Fallburg" geographical footprint...Fracking is on the agenda, and I will be asking the town to consider passing a complete ban on the industry practice known as Hydraulic Fracturing. I would encourage all those opposed to fracking to find the time to be there...Fracking is on the agenda at exactly 6 PM.

Below is text of the presentation:

Members of the board for the town of Fallsburg, attending members of the public, I am here tonight asking you to amend our zoning rules and regulations to ban Hydraulic Fracturing and its various and assorted related activities within the geographical footprint of the town of Fallsburg.   Some folks, including members of this board, in my opinion would see such a ban as un-necessary, their belief based upon natural industry studies that claim our area of Sullivan County is not likely to see fracking due to the shallow nature of the Marcellus Shale in our immediate area.

Simply stated, not likely is a very ambiguous phrase with enough room to drive a fleet of trucks filled with contaminated fracking fluids through, and at some point, the Natural Gas industry will do exactly that in some way, shape or form if we as a community do not take the steps necessary now to protect ourselves, our community, our environment, and our fresh drinking water supplies.  

The industry is spending tens of millions of dollars in what amounts to a propaganda campaign.  They promise hundreds of thousands of jobs, they promise us cheap energy, and most importantly, they promise us that the job will be done right.  

First, there will not be hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the jobs created will not see hundreds, let alone thousands of Sullivan County citizens hired...the industry has a funny way of counting, used what could be called fuzzy math in calculating how many jobs will be created…if a local diner starts using say natural gas, the industry would want to claim that the job of dishwasher was a job created as a result of their industry.  If there is a major explosion at a well pad that causes serious injuries to someone, and that someone going forward required home health care, the Natural Gas industry will say even that accident CREATED JOBS.

Cheap energy?  We all know the basic rule of supply and demand.  The natural gas industry is getting government at all levels to hand out our tax dollars in the name of Natural Gas and cheap energy, the state of Pennsylvania as example doling out almost $50 million to communities to change over their fleets to Natural Gas…well, as the demand begins to rise, so will the price, and it will not be too far down this path before we are paying $4.00 a gallon for Natural Gas, just as we pay $4.00 a gallon now for gasoline.  In the not so long haul, cheap fuel/energy promised by those wanting to frack our communities is a myth.

They promise the job will be done right.  Fact is, much like the waste from the nuclear industry, the Natural Gas industry does not know what to do with their own wastes, literally billions upon billions of gallons of chemically contaminated and radioactive water.  Right now, they want to either A) inject it into the ground…problematic from several standpoints including a belief by some including the Ohio EPA that said injection is causing earthquakes, or B) they want to haul the water off too local sewage treatment plants for treatment, then have said water dumped into our rivers and streams.

A simple Google search will show all of us numerous examples of problems with fracking…what you will find is three things that stand out.

1.        There are a lot of accidents, from well blow outs, faulty valves, too busted lagoons that were meant to hold the contaminated water.  There are numerous examples of contaminated wells, and for  every accident, every contaminated water supply, the industry in every case claims it is not responsible, is not the guilty party.

2.       Lots of excuses as everyone in the industry wants to blame it on someone or something else.  It was human error, it was an equipment malfunction, it was MOTHER NATURE!

3.       Lots of attorneys, who acting as Natural Gas industry hired guns look at ruined communities and say, “PROVE IT WAS US”.

The big question seems to be, can the natural gas industry extract all the gas that is supposed to be in the Marcellus Shale, and do it safely.  Their own industry experts admit that Hydraulic Fracturing is not without risk…which brings us to the central point of why I am asking this board to ban fracking.  We as a community cannot afford those risks, nor can we afford the costs should fracking come to our community.  Furthermore, our own laws as written make it apparent that Natural Gas drilling and its associated industrial acts and process does not fall into the town of Fallsburg land use plans, and not passing a ban on fracking should raise the question, “Are those elected officials sworn to uphold our town laws and to protect our citizens derelict in their duties”?

The Town of Fallsburg Zoning Code as adopted in Article 1, Section 310-1.2 specifically instructs the town in sections A-E, charges the towns elected officials and employees with the following duties and responsibilities:

To preserve the character and rural scenic beauty of the landscape and protect this gateway to the Catskill Forests from inharmonious and destructive uses of land; (emphasis added)

Create an orderly pattern of growth by encouraging concentration of new residential development (emphasis added) in areas that can conveniently be serviced with public facilities and discouraging intensive residential development in areas of difficult accessibility that would involve excessive costs for road improvements, road maintenance, school bus transportation and utility installation;

Regulate population density to reflect the desired character of the Town;

Prevent intrusion of incompatible uses into residential areas, by establishing proper standards for improvements in new residential developments and preserving, protecting and enhancing natural beauty wherever possible; (emphasis added)

Provide for open spaces and to preserve the natural and scenic qualities of lands; (emphasis added)

Furthermore, the town of Fallsburg Zoning Code in Chapter 141 Fresh Water Wetlands in Section 141-1 specifically instructs the town, charges the town’s elected officials and employees with the following duties and responsibilities: 

The purpose of this chapter is to provide for the protection, preservation and conservation of the freshwater wetlands within the boundaries of the “Town of Fallsburg”, pursuant to and in accordance with all of the proceedings, concepts and definitions set forth in Article 24 of the Environmental Conservation Law and Title 23 of Article 71 of such law relating to the enforcement of Article 24, as such law may from time to time be amended.

Everything about hydraulic fracturing runs contrary to these charges you as a board have been given, and changing our zoning rules and regulations to ban FRACKING would in fact fit harmoniously into the towns stated goals as relates to land use in our geographical footprint.  Furthermore, though it is freely admitted that our town does not have the right to regulate the industry, two recent court decisions have shown that we and every community in the state of New York do have the right to REGULATE LAND USE, and a ban on fracking in Fallsburg would be exactly that…regulating land use.  Moreover, for various reasons, now is the time to pass such a zoning ordinance into law.

1.        My own investigations lead me to believe that right now there are no lands in our community with Natural Gas leases (using horizontal hydraulic fracturing) on them.  This means passing a bill now banning fracking rather than later when and if there would be leases eliminates the towns worry that they could be subject to a takings act…this point was discussed with an attorney with the “Natural Resources Defense Counsel”

2.       When and if it is proven by the Natural Gas industry that they can extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale safely, and without contaminating our air, water and land, the town could consider changing the ordinance that bans fracking, but it is prudent right now for us to take steps to protect ourselves…it would be too late down the road if we found out fracking was coming to our community to take such protective measures.

3.       Passing such a ban would send a clear signal to the world that Fallsburg cares more about clean water, a pristine environment, breathable air and people’s health than it cars about the profits of companies like Cabot Oil, Exxon and Chesapeake Energy, and that in turn has the very real chance of seeing truly green businesses and industry giving us a closer look when they are looking for a new community in which to locate their business.

Fallsburg has nothing to lose in passing such a ban on fracking, but everything to lose if this board fails to pass such a ban, and months or a couple years later Hydraulic Fracturing finds its way into our community.  Therefore, I am asking you to pass the ban on fracking I am requesting on behalf of all those citizens opposed to Hydraulic Fracturing in our community, and am asking you to use the frame work included in this document.  

If anyone has questions, will do my best to answer them.

Proposed Amendments to Town of Fallsburg Zoning Ordinance
The Town of Fallsburg Zoning Ordinance is herby amended as follows:

1.       Section (insert proper section) Definitions is amended by adding new definitions to read as follows:

“Natural Gas” shall mean any gaseous substance, either combustible or noncombustible, which is produced in a natural state from the earth and which maintains a gaseous or rarified state at standard temperature and pressure condition, and/or gaseous components or vapors occurring in or derived from petroleum or other hydrocarbons.

“Natural Gas and/or Petroleum Exploration” shall mean geologic or geophysical activities related to the search for natural gas, petroleum or other subsurface hydrocarbons including prospecting, geophysical and geologic seismic surveying and sampling techniques, which include but are not limited to core or rotary drilling or making an excavation in the search and evaluation or natural gas, petroleum, or other subsurface hydrocarbon deposits.

“Natural Gas and/or Petroleum Exploration and Production Materials” shall mean any solid, semi-solid, liquid, semi-liquid or gaseous material used in the exploration or extraction of natural gas.

“Natural Gas Exploration and/or Petroleum Production Wastes” shall mean any garbage, refuse, cuttings, sludge, flow-back fluids, produced waters or other discarded materials, including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material that results from or is associated with the exploration, drilling or extraction of natural gas and/or petroleum.

“Natural Gas and/or Petroleum Extraction” shall mean the digging or drilling of a well for the purposes of exploring for, developing or producing natural gas, petroleum or other subsurface hydrocarbons.

“Natural Gas and/or Petroleum Support Activities” shall mean the construction, use, or maintenance of a storage or staging yard, a water or fluid injection station, a water or fluid gathering station, a natural gas or petroleum gathering line, venting station, or compressor with the exploration or extraction of natural gas or petroleum.

2.       Section (insert proper section) is amended by adding a new section (insert proper section) to read as follows:
            Section (insert new section code here) Prohibited Uses
A)      Prohibition against the Exploration for or Extraction of Natural Gas and/or Petroleum.

No land in the Town of Fallsburg (and it geographical/governmental outlaying footprint) shall be used: to conduct any exploration for natural gas and/or petroleum; to drill any well for natural gas; to transfer, store, process or treat natural gas; or to dispose of natural gas exploration or production wastes; or to erect any derrick, building or other structure; or to place any machinery or equipment for any such purposes.
B)     Prohibition against the Storage, Treatment and Disposal of Natural Gas and/or Petroleum Exploration and Production Materials.
No land in the Town (and it geographical/governmental outlaying footprint) shall be used for:  the storage, transfer, treatment and/or disposal of natural gas and/or petroleum exploration and production materials.
C)     Prohibition against the Storage, Treatment and Disposal of Natural Gas and/or Petroleum Exploration and Production Wastes.
No land in the Town shall be used for: the storage transfer, treatment and/or disposal of natural gas and/or petroleum exploration and production wastes.
D)      Prohibition against Natural Gas and/or Support Activities.
No land in the Town shall be used for natural gas and/or petroleum support activities.

3.      These amendments shall take effect upon adoption and publication as provided by law.