Thursday, June 7, 2012

Small Towns Embrace Pro-Drilling Resolutions

Candor, NY
Last month two towns to the west of me, Van Etten and Spencer, NY passed resolutions stating that the towns supported gas drilling. Van Etten’s resolution was simple – a single sentence stating that the town has “decided to allow gas drilling in the Town of Van Etten.” Spencer’s is lengthier, commending the state’s leadership in developing a “comprehensive” statewide drilling program, stating their confidence in the state’s development of “safe” and “responsible” gas development, and all but promising to ignore any citizen petitions for moratoria or bans.

It is, word for word, the same resolution that will be considered by our town board at their next meeting on June 12. It’s already on the agenda: “Review/approve Planning Board recommendation on a resolution supporting natural gas development in the Town of Candor”. But, unlike previous resolutions, this one has not been posted for citizens to read prior to the meeting.

Last month our town supervisor, Bob Riggs received an email from the Tioga County Landowners Group urging the town to adopt the “pro-drilling” resolution.

The thing is, Riggs said in a phone interview Monday morning, while he feels that the board is mostly pro-drilling, he thinks this resolution is being rushed. The driving force, he says, is a news article in which Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens was quoted as saying that local land-use rules will “continue to be a consideration” in the permitting process for gas drilling.

Riggs admitted that the only ones who contacted him about considering the resolution were the head of the landowner’s group and another individual who doesn’t live in the town.

When asked whether the town is ready for drilling, Riggs noted that Candor does have a road use agreement and that the planning board has been reviewing a wellhead protection plan for the village. But the town has not yet completed a checklist of actions that will help prepare for industrialized drilling. That checklist comes from TING, a non-partisan county taskforce that developed a thick binder of information meant to guide towns through actions that will protect the town’s infrastructure and environment once drilling commences.

People move here for the small town, rural atmosphere
Neither has the town determined whether drilling is compatible with the Town Comprehensive Plan. That plan seeks to preserve the rural character of Candor, encourage small business and light industry, and maintain or improve property values – goals that conflict with large-scale industrialized shale gas drilling.

A few towns to the west, another town council is considering the same resolution. Theirs came in a thick envelope from Southern Tier Economic Growth, a Chemung county economic council that in 2011 received close to 75% of its funding from taxpayer dollars. And yes, the resolution was, word for word, identical to the one that Candor is considering; that Spencer passed; that went out to every town in Steuben county.

A council member in one of the Chemung county towns currently considering the resolution speculates that this resolution as a response to the growing movement to ban drilling. Towns don’t want to become embroiled in lawsuits by landowners angry that they can’t lease their land. On the other hand, he said, “if it can be proven that this resolution encourages drilling to come into a town, and if problems result, then towns could be sued for that. This resolution opens towns up to more lawsuits than if we do nothing.”

The other problem he sees is that people voting on this resolution have a vested interest in seeing drilling happen in their town. “Elected officials who have leases should not be voting for this kind of resolution,” he said. “Indeed, they should recuse themselves from voting on any of these issues where they have a financial stake in the outcome.”


  1. The grassroots groups need to do another updated mass email or snail mailing to the towns in the southern tier containing links to as much negative information on fracking as possible, including a contact list of villages with or moving towards regulations against fracking. The government clearly states in the gas development plan that the sum total of possible lease owners represents about 1% of the total population in the Southern Tier. I have been thinking... that stuffing mail boxes with a information flier might be of benefit.

    1. Who better to decide to frack or not to frack than the land owners. Many against it are not only concerned with its safety but envious that they will not profit and there for do not want anyone to profit. There has been a lot of rabid fear mongering trying to scare everyone. They have been fracking in Texas for some time and the state prospers, there are good paying jobs and we have yet to see people or cows dropping in the fields. Do the research for your self and do not listen to the radicals. Check what the DEA in Pa says about fracking to learn the truth

  2. Those towns sold out - before the regs. are even issued.

    That's real responsible . . .

    Absent a land use plan, they are sitting ducks

    Since the DEC regs. are the worst in the US

    Get a new town super and town board, or get a new town.


  4. The current action by the Town of Candor Planning Board in passing a resolution in favor of declaring Candor a "frack friendly" town has me more than slightly concerned.

    First, as a former member of the town's planning board, and as a major editor of the town's comprehensive plan, I can attest that declaring this town "pro-fracking" is NOT is alignment with the vision that resident's had/have for our town. You can read the comprehensive plan for yourself at

    Second, the DEC has recommended that town does not sign on to the JLCNY resolution. Why are Candor representatives going against the advice of the DEC especially when many residents are waiting to see exactly what the DEC is going to do as they wade through the comments of the dSGEIS? This makes NO sense.

    Third. If the town is pro-fracking, wouldn't it behoove the town to take NO action as opposed to enacting a moratorium or ban? Even the DEC says "take no action".

    Fourth, Passing this resolution takes away constitutional rights of those opposed to fracking to actually oppose it. So would the board be liable for constitutional violations?

    Fifth, without a survey of residents/ property owners, we have no f**cking idea if this is a pro-fracking town or not. I asked a while back about conducting a survey with little discussion on the CandorNY yahoo list. The board can't make decisions like this based on assumptions - Especially considering that surveys of surrounding towns show a majority in opposition to fracking.

    Most people I've talked to are in favor of resource extraction (ie drilling) but are not in favor of fracking - as it is currently being conducted- as a method to extract the gas. Most folks don't know enough about propane fracking to make an informed decision. But this method too has many problems. Folks want "safe" drilling but I along with many others I've spoken with are of the opinion that the technology is not yet there to be "safe". Designating Candor a "Frack Friendly" town says to the gas companies that they can experiment here and use us as a place to develop that technology.

    SO--- I suggest that concerned residents attend the town board meeting this upcoming Tuesday (June 12) to let their positions be heard. I also suggest contacting Candor town supervisor Bob Riggs (659-4013), to let him know your position on this issue - especially if you can't attend the meeting or are afraid to speak in public.

    Now is not the time to be complacent.

    All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men do nothing -- Edmund Burke