Study It

Many local governments have chosen to do their own investigations into the impacts that high volume slick water hydrofracking will have, should it be permitted in NYS.  In particular, there is no evidence whatever that the State is doing any systematic study of non-environmental impacts.  This is significant to local governments, because in New York State, localities remain responsible for many of the social and economic impacts that a new industry has on their community.  An excellent example of work of this sort is the inquiry into impacts on property assessment, mortgage lending, and the real estate market (along with related impacts on local government revenues) that has been carried out by Tompkins County’s Council of Governments Task Force on Gas Drilling. This is but one of six “focus areas” that the Task Force on Gas Drilling has done work on.  Access their information at: http://www.tompkins-co.org/tccog/Gas_Drilling/Index_GasDrilling.html

Once your locality has determined that a possible impact is an issue, it can move to enact a local law, or lobby state lawmakers to adjust statewide laws to allow it to better deal with the impact.

Zone It Out

In NYS, many local government attorneys read the law to mean that local governments do not control the siting of natural gas facilities– that it is done by the State Department of Conservation (DEC).  So, the typical land use laws, such as zoning or special permits or site plan review, do not apply in this case.

Recently, some towns and cities, and some attorneys, have read the law to mean that local zoning can prohibit hydrofracking, with a strong enough case built that all heavy industry is prohibited, or zoned only in certain areas, in the town or city.  More info on this is available at: Community Environmental Defense Council.   UPDATE: An excellent resource has been created by Food and Water Watch.  It is a map, with information attached by geographical location, of local municipalities that have (or are in-process-of) prohibiting hydrofracking in their jurisdiction.  If you are looking for language to incorporate in a local law, this is a great place to start: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/fracking/fracking-action-center/  Of course, those municipalities within NYS will be working under NYS law, and therefore more useful.

Prepare to Deal With Impacts

Here is a link to an excellent technical paper, OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING
THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN RELATION TO NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION IN THE MARCELLUS SHALE
IN THE SOUTHERN TIER EAST REGION OF NEW YORK STATE.  This detailed report includes a lot of background info; beginning on page 26, “Local Government Responsibilities and Roles,” there is a section that spells out very clearly what local governments can do, using the assumption that prohibiting hydrofracking or zoning it into industrial zones only is not an option.

Advertisements