Editor’s Note: Since the print edition went to press, the Governor’s Budget, agreed to Wednesday, April 1, included a fracking ban.
To the Editor:
The emergency now unfolding due to the coronavirus is not the only global crisis we are facing. The threat of global warming also requires state-wide, indeed global, response. The damage climate change is causing should not be ignored in the hope that it will magically disappear. Perhaps we have learned this much.
Our governor has taken a leadership role in response to the current pandemic. He has also taken a leadership role in responding to the climate crisis. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) was passed last year setting ambitious goals to reduce fossil fuel use for electricity generation (70 percent non-fossil fuels by 2030; 100 percent by 2040).
The Governor now proposes a budget amendment to expedite implementation of the CLCPA known as the Accelerated Renewable Energy & Community Benefit Act. Adoption of the budget amendment will lead to accelerated state-wide permitting of renewable energy projects, specifically solar, wind, and related transmission infrastructure.
While CLCPA implementation is critical, this amendment as written raises concerns for erosion of Home Rule. I do not believe Michael Zagata (at one time an executive in the fossil-fuel industry, and briefly a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration) is the best qualified to advise on the merits of Home Rule. He fought Home Rule for years in the fracking debate. His attachment to it now is disingenuous.
Without a state-wide fracking ban, individual municipalities could permit fracking without regard to risks to neighboring towns. Similarly, Home Rule in renewable-energy development without state-wide support will be ineffective. The two must work together.
Those who claim that there will be no benefit to host communities as a result of expedited solar and wind development are also wrong. The budget amendment specifically provides that host communities will benefit through payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements and negotiated reduced electric rates. Landowners who lease their land will also receive substantial rental income. Finally, mitigation of climate change clearly will benefit all.
Conversion to renewable sources for electricity generation is a crucial state-wide initiative, like the state-wide ban on fracking. At the same time, the budget amendment should strengthen protections for prime agricultural land, wildlife habitat, tourism, recreational land use, and historic preservation, all matters of intense local concern.
Host communities should be accorded deference in siting based on these key local considerations. New York can and must lead in conversion to non-fossil fuels, while supporting existing state policies to protect Home Rule and local economic drivers.
NICOLE A. DILLINGHAM, J.D.
Board President, Otsego 2000, Inc.
ALBANY – New York State has banned fracking in the state budget, NYPIRG announced a few minutes ago.
The provision was included in the state’s 2020 budget, which is being firmed up today, a step that allows approval of controversial issues without the usual hearing a a specific vote on the floor.
“The state has taken the next step to solidify its role as a climate leader by banning fracking in statute,” the lobbying group said. “Since New York banned fracking through the regulatory process almost five years ago, the climate crisis has grown worse, and the science proving the dangers of fracking has only become more definitive.”
This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one. Many geologists and industry leaders believe that the deep shale formations underneath the state’s southern tier, known as the Marcellus Shale, contain bountiful supplies of natural gas. But extracting the gas, the governor concluded, carried — at least for now — unacceptable risks to the environment and human health. READ MORE
FORBES: In Fracking Ban, Politics Trumps Science
After hemming and hawing for five years, the state of New York decided to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing of shale to extract petroleum. Apparently, the state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker believes “we lack the necessary data.” This is a copout used all too often (including in bizarre cases like justifying opposition to gay marriage), and is especially odd given the increasing number of studies that have support fracking if well regulated. READ MORE
JOURNAL NEWS, Westchester: NY Wisely Skips Fracking
The decision stemmed from scientific data (or the lack thereof) that left too many unknowns about environmental impact. Economic factors came into play, too. But a pile of expected lawsuits will claim politics was at the root. READ MORE
BEFOREITSNEWS.COM: Liberals Can Celebrate Job Loss
Oh well, now the liberals can all celebrate the lack of job creation and infrastructure improvement in this once great state. READ MORE
PRESS & SUN BULLETIN: Region’s Economy Needs Boost
Gas extraction at the price of risking the public’s health is no bargain. We’ll thank Albany for looking out for the future health of our families and neighbors. But with that thanks comes a question about the economic futures of our families and neighbors: Now what? The region needs a lot of sparks to reignite its economic engines, and Wednesday’s decisions in Albany have left us with more questions and few answers about our future. READ MORE
ONEONTA – A few moments ago, state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, issued a statement saying, given Governor Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking, “we need to move on to develop robust economic development strategies that capitalizes on our other resources.”
Here is Seward’s complete statement:
“I have consistently said that any decision concerning hydraulic fracturing in New York State must be based on science and, like many, have awaited the release of the study from the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation related to drilling.
“Today the governor moved to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York, and while many disagree and some litigation is likely, in light of the governor’s decision, we need to move on to develop robust economic development strategies that capitalizes on our other resources.”
“Would I live in a community with HVHF (high-volume hydraulic fracturing) based on the facts I have now? Would I let my child play in the school field nearby, or my family drink the water from the tap or grow their vegetables in the soil? After looking at a plethora of reports … my answer is no.”
COOPERSTOWN – The Town of Middlefield success in banning fracking within its borders played an “important role” in the decision to ban fracking in New York State, Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham said in a statement released a few moments ago.
“It is significant to note that the legal decisions in the Dryden/Middlefield cases played an important role in the analysis,” wrote Dillingham. “In these cases, the New York Court of Appeals upheld the right of local governments to ban fracking based on zoning and police powers.
“As a result, much of New York became unavailable for fracking and the economic benefits to the State or proceeding were greatly diminished.”