Appalachian Basin

Burlington Flats Gives the Natural Gas Moratorium a Flat

Last night there was a town board meeting held in Burlington Flats, New York. The meeting was open to the public to discuss a moratorium which has already been denied by the town board.

There was a town board meeting held in Burlington Flats, New York (Otsego County) last night. The board immediately opened the floor to anyone wishing to speak on any topic, which of course since we’re in New York, was natural gas development within the towns. Manners of any sort went straight out the window as those opposed to development reacted to comments supporting natural gas, something all too familiar at these kinds of events.

FYI: Board Already Voted No to a Moratorium

A brief note before we dig into Burlington Flats. There was a moratorium proposed for the town in months prior, which was denied by the board members. It’s not too surprising though, the crowd was still talking about it. I didn’t even realize until after the meeting the board had already told the antis “no” on a moratorium, because they all spoke as if it were still an option.

Survey Says…???

Some constituents developed a survey for town residents to gauge public sentiment on natural gas development. While I don’t know the exact specifics of their survey, here’s some food for thought. Surveys generally have a 15%-20% return rate and it is very easy, as we have seen in previous surveys, for questioners to use loaded questions to obtain desired outcomes.

This survey actually had a 48% return rate, which was impressive but not necessarily accurate. According to the members of the audience, the survey revealed 51% of the 48% of the surveys returned showed people not supportive of natural gas development; however, some 22% of the surveys returned did not indicate whether the individual supported natural gas or not. This leaves 51% of the surveys which were not returned and the 22% of the ones which were returned (of 48%) with people who could certainly support natural gas development. And of the 51% (of 48%) the questions may have been framed in a manner misleading to the respondent, which may explain why so many did not respond with their opinion.

Do you see where it can get confusing and may not be an accurate portrayal of the sentiments in the town? As I said before, I didn’t see the survey so I don’t know the specifics of the questions asked, but if anything the results leave one with more questions than answers.

Here’s several great points against this survey from one of the speakers of the night.

One woman spoke in favor of natural gas development on behalf of several people who couldn’t attend the meeting. She also disagreed with the way the survey was handled and speaks about it in the video below.

Paid Advertisements and Misinformation

The floor was open to the public immediately after the meeting came to order. One woman spoke discussing the “Flowback” paper. Earlier that morning I received the Deposit Courier and a copy of the “Flowback” was in the center of the paper as an insert. I immediately called the editor and was told this was a paid advertisement. The people who bought it paid $150 to have it in there. Keep in mind a paid advertisement is extremely different than a news story. The Flowback is paying to be in several surrounding upstate New York papers and people are believing everything they have read in this even though the people reading it have never traveled to Pennsylvania to see what natural gas looks like for themselves. This is unfortunate because it is littered with errors and misleading information from the Photoshopped image of Dimock on the front cover (a home easily identified on Route 29) to the pictures of animals on the back.

My father also spoke, pointing out a few flaws he heard throughout the meeting. The main message he wanted to convey was the fact there will not be more permits issued than the DEC can handle. He pointed out there is no such thing as a greedy farmer. Farmers work hard and produce food for everyone, they don’t get to take vacations whenever they want and they should not need to give up their land rights because some people do not want to see a natural gas rig for a couple weeks in their view scape.

What Happened in Binghamton?

Attorney Ed Zaengle spoke second. He discussed the City of Binghamton lawsuit in great detail. He pointed out the judge found the moratorium illegal for several different reasons including, but not limited to, the fact the moratorium was enacted in Binghamton to make a political statement and not be used as a legal tool. The holding went on farther to state there is no real necessity for the moratorium because the Department of Environmental Conservation has not even finished producing their rules and regulations to date.  Read our analysis here.

Come Again?

One man told everyone in the audience the moratorium had nothing to do with natural gas development at all. My immediate question was why do you need it then?  He supported the moratorium but stood by the idea it had nothing to do with natural gas.  Perplexed? Me too. Watch for yourself below.

We Need a Comprehensive Plan…For Those Unsightly Older Cars??

The next person to speak discussed the town comprehensive plan. She wanted more time to work on their comprehensive plan before natural gas gets permitted into New York State.

A town does not need to enact a moratorium to update or complete a comprehensive plan. They form a group and the group works on the comprehensive plan over a few months. Then it gets discussed, revised and submitted. If towns stopped wasting time proposing moratoriums, writing them up, waiting seven days, holding a public hearing, editing their moratorium, sending it to the county for a month, then changing anything the county disagrees with, holding another public meeting, resubmitting it, and voting on it only for it to be challenged by a lawsuit, the town would have ample time to address any necessary steps it needs to take making the moratorium irrelevant.

One of their vocal antis had the nerve to tell the audience the town doesn’t need a comprehensive plan, but the group still wants one. Why do they want one you ask? Simple really, to tell people how to live their lives. When she is speaking she eventually discusses how she doesn’t want people in the town to even have older vehicles on their lawn. She goes as far as saying they should have to put up a fence so she doesn’t have to look at it. Perhaps if there was more money circulating in the economy people could afford to upgrade their vehicles, but I digress.

By the end of the meeting it was clear, what we have said all along, the facts are the facts and no matter how many times you put them out to the antis they refuse to listen to them. This particular group was exceptionally rude and immature, and simply could not accept that a decision had already been made to not enact a moratorium in the town.

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