Appalachian Basin

Landowners Respond to NY Court of Appeals Decision on HF

This week, the New York State Court of Appeals reaffirmed two lower court rulings that towns can use zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing. The following is a reaction from Jeff Heller, president of the Steuben County Land Owners Coalition.

As a landowner, and especially as the president of the Steuben County Land Owners Coalition, not responding to the Court of Appeals decision is not an option.  Everyone – pro, anti, and in the middle – on gas drilling has to understand this is a very, very, broad and complicated issue.  (In New York, not in 31 other states).  Any full discussion would take many pages.  So, I will try to make this as simple and as optimistic as I can for now.  Let’s put some lipstick on this pig.

The court has ruled that each of our towns can decide whether or not their town will allow drilling.  This has been a “big deal” for five or six years now.  Ignoring all the negative effects the decision will have (and they are many and huge!) on drilling in New York, lets look at the “good news” here.  The  towns that don’t want the benefits that 31 states are experiencing, can simply say so – and it’s done.  BUT, the towns that do want some of those benefits can now  have them – the court just said so!  We need our illustrious governor to open the state to drilling first, but once he does that we may see some progress here in the Southern Tier.

Karen Moreau (N.Y. State Petroleum Council Executive Director) made the following statement after the Court’s ruling:  “Hundreds of towns in the heart of …the Southern Tier, have repeatedly supported safe and responsible natural gas development and job creation.  Our companies look forward to partnering with these communities,  to ensure that uncertainty created by the court does not stand in the way of efforts to promote investment in New York.”

Walter Hang (radical anti-gas drilling spokesman) had this to say:  “Today’s decision serves up the Southern Tier on a silver platter to allow shale gas development to begin.”  “… it allows it in the five counties along the Southern Tier where it is most likely to begin.”

So, depending on how Cuomo acts, we may finally see some positive motion here in the Southern Tier.  In that sense, far from being a total negative for our people, this could be the biggest move forward we have seen since 2008.  Lots and lots of problems remain, but this pig does look a little better with some lipstick.

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