Landowner to NYC: Stop Stealing Our Rights
I am a resident of Deposit in Delaware County, New York. My family owns 55 unleased acres courtesy of the ongoing 3 and 1/2 year moratorium on natural gas development in New York State. If the regulations put forth in the SGEIS stay the way they are currently written, this injustice of our property rights will continue, as we will never have the opportunity to lease our land and our mineral rights. This means that my family and many like it could be faced with the decision of having to move from our homes, our land, our community, and possibly even our state, because few can afford to live in New York without the jobs and economic benefits natural gas development will bring.
Why do these regulations impact my community so much, and more so than other communities in Upstate New York? Because Delaware County is the home of the Cannonsville Reservoir. This may sound like a nice thing to have nearby, but it comes with its own challenges and costs to our community. When the reservoir was established in 1965 to supply New York City with drinking water they had to demolish several towns. This included moving nine cemeteries, all for New York City to have water, while Delaware County was left carrying the burden for making a living here.
Today we still feel the effects of the reservoir being placed here. We cannot use the reservoir for recreation without overcoming extreme hurdles because it flows to New York City unfiltered, so we receive none of the benefits of its intrusion on our community. We especially feel the pinch in property taxes, as the destruction of villages for its construction left a void in the tax base of the county.
Now, after everything we have sacrificed for New York City, we are told that, because we live near its watershed, our property may not be leased or developed for natural gas because of the proposed 4,000 ft set-back in the SGEIS for the reservoir. Let me tell you that NOTHING about the relationship between our two communities is fair and this latest act only manages to worsen the situation, allowing the City to further gorge itself on our property rights. The watershed protects itself through the boundaries surrounding it and it should stop at those boundaries. The residents of Delaware County have been asked to sacrifice enough!
If the DEC wants to stop us from utilizing our minerals, it must compensate us for our carrying this burden for New York City. Seems only right, if I can’t develop my resources due to this fact than it should be a cost New York City must bear. Consider the losses to my family alone. First, there is the up-front cost of what I stand to lose from not being able to lease my land, which is $275,000.00, using the very conservative figure of $500 per acre. There is, in addition, an estimated total of $1.5 million per year connected with royalties that will be lost (assuming a royalty of 12.5%, at $3 per cubic foot wellhead price and 0.2 million cubic feet per day) for the acreage that we own that might conceivably be part of a production unit, according to a royalty calculator on Geology.com. As you can see, at even a fraction of this estimate, there is a lot that we stand to lose because of New York City, and this doesn’t even take into account all the sacrifice we have already given to the City.
Three and a half years is long enough! Let’s get this done right and develop our natural gas resources now!