Marcellus Shale

Fighting Back Against New York City, One More Time

Sandra Davis

Sandra Davis
Deposit, NY resident

We’ve had it with New York City’s domineering attitude and exploitation of landowners where I live in Deposit, New York.  The city’s latest maneuver, which seems to be in league with the efforts of the Natural Resource Defense Council, takes the cake, however.  Their proposed seven mile tunnel buffers are one of the most blatant land grabs we’ve seen since the city wiped out the little town of Cannonsville many decades ago.  We’re, in the words of the movie Network, “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

The city’s game was explained on these pages earlier, so I won’t reiterate but I will share with you what I wrote to State Senator Tom Libous:

Dear Senator Libous,

I am writing to you about a serious threat to our property rights, which is being made by the City of New York in apparent league with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and others who are trying to cut a deal that would make natural gas development all but impossible anywhere in Delaware County. More specifically, I am concerned about the taking of my own individual property rights!

My husband and I currently own 54.94 acres in Deposit, Delaware County, but we probably won’t own it for much longer if the taking of our rights continues on the path it is headed.  Our property is outside of the watershed, outside the 4,000 feet setback proposed by the DEC, but within the seven mile infrastructure buffer being proposed by the City.  The city’s proposal is excessive in the extreme.  It is clearly being advanced simultaneously with a NRDC proposal to limit drilling to parts of the Southern Tier that are west of here and far away from the properties owned by prominent NRDC members who will no longer be able to acquire Catskill land on the cheap to swell the size of their private reserve.  It is an unholy alliance of City with some of its wealthy residents who have vacation land in the Catskills and it threatens the livelihoods of hard-working ordinary landowners such as us who have to make a living here.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

There is no science to indicate any contamination to the watershed would result from natural gas development on my property. It is not physically possible with mountain in between my property and the reservoir.  The City attempts to justify its seven mile land grab on behalf of itself and the NRDC by saying two scientific studies indicate the shale is brittle and contaminants can travel up to seven miles.  However, a review of the details in these studies indicates no such thing.  Moreover, there is not a singled documented case of hydraulic fracturing polluting a water supply.  It hasn’t happened.  Lisa Jackson at the EPA and the New York State SGEIS both say as much.  The City is grasping at straws in an attempt to grab land for itself and its NRDC friends.  It is highway robbery!

Both the City and the NRDC (whose leadership controls the Open Space Institute, the Open Space Conservancy and the Catskill Mountainkeeper, and constitutes some of the world’s wealthiest people) are land hogs and New York State needs to get a grip on their takings and stop them. First, they took land to put the reservoir on our land, digging up the bodies of our loved ones from their final resting place in the process. Now, they want to take away our constitutional rights, too. Neither, New York City nor the NRDC will not get my rights for free! I have said this before and I will say it again – those mineral rights I possess are worth a minimum of $2.5 million, which is a conservative estimate of the economic return we would see from natural gas development on our property, The City proposal, carefully orchestrated with the simultaneous actions of NRDC and others to make the case for keeping gas activity well to the west of us would render 33,000 acres undevelopable at a cost to our communities of over $81 billion.  This is the scope of the land grab.  It must stop!

Please make these facts known and stand up for our rights!

Sandra Davis

Several of us in the Deposit area have decided to take on this challenge by making a petition to the New York State Legislature, believing in the old wisdom that sunshine is the best disinfectant.  Here is what it says:

We are opposed to the proposed seven mile land grab proposed by New York City to protect its tunnels from the effects of natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing. There is no evidence to support such buffers. Moreover, the practiced impacts of these proposed buffers suggest they are intended not to protect anything but, rather, to allow continued land acquisition on the cheap by wealthy Catskill landowners and special interest organizations such as the Open Space Institute.

We believe these proposed buffers serve no other purpose than advancing the interests of these wealthy individuals, while destroying the rights of landowners who desperately need natural gas development to survive economically. The imposition of these buffers is not justified by the science and will result in the wholesale taking of landowner property values, further impoverishing the area and rendering land less valuable and more vulnerable to purchase by the proponents of the buffers.

We urge you, therefore, to oppose any and all extended buffer proposals by New York City. There is no scientific justification given that the fracturing occurs more than a mile below and, per proposed New York State regulations, a minimum of 1,000 feet horizontally from the tunnels. It is a threadbare excuse for imposing a natural gas ban that will benefit one group of very wealthy individuals at the expense of everyone else. Please call a halt to this land grab.

Can you help us fight the behemoth, New York City?  Are you willing to join David in the battle against Goliath?  If so, please print off  a copy of this petition, circulate it and mail back to me at:

Sandra Davis
199 Old Rt 10, Suite 2
Deposit, NY 13754

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