Appalachian Basin

Oxford Gets Shoved to the Edge on Natural Gas by an Angry Slottje

My most entertaining meeting of the past week was one held in Oxford, New York, Chenango County.  If you’ll revisit my last post on Oxford you’ll get the background on what has been happening in the area, where both the Town and Village of Oxford (separate but related municipalities) have been addressing natural gas issues.  The meeting this past week was an informational meeting with Attorney David Slottje with the Village of Oxford planning board. The village board wants the planning board’s opinion on a natural gas moratorium before it acts; the town having already opted to do nothing.  The planning board, in turn, has conducted informational meetings, one with Slottje and one with Attorney Robert Wedlake.  The Slottje meeting proved to be a fiasco, with the star of the evening losing his cool several times.  Although the planning board seemed enthralled with Slottje’s message before he even spoke, he certainly didn’t win any new friends. 

Slottje gave the same presentation as he did in North Norwich the night before, with just a few minor changes. In Oxford he focused his presentation on land use authority because the village can implement zoning. Secondly, Slottje really tries to discredit attorney Rob Wedlake, (Hinman, Howard & Kattell). He doesn’t fail to mention he was taken aback when Wedlake tore his presentation apart and shared the list of things Slottje has done incorrectly with boards. Slottje certainly doesn’t take criticism well, as you can see in his entire–121 minute–presentation below.

He discusses (7:20) police power and the power towns have to zone out industry. At 13:37 it is the first time he encourages the town to pass a moratorium before the Department of Environmental Conservation releases the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement. At 15:05 he tells the audience by enacting a moratorium it doesn’t mean the board is against natural gas exploration.

Between 5:00 and 24:40 in the video below Slottje discusses Dryden and Middlefield. He is extremely confident the natural gas moratorium cases will not be appealed. Even if the cases were not appealed it doesn’t mean the moratorium didn’t cost the towns a lot of taxpayer money. To date he even admitted (in North Norwich) the law suits have cost the towns between $65,000 and $80,000. So sure, if the cases aren’t appealed it won’t be as costly, but damage has already been done because there was a moratorium enacted originally. He apparently forgets he’s in upstate New York, where those amounts could devastate towns already hurting from a struggling economy.

Right after he gets done discussing the court cases, he argues, just as he did in North Norwich, it’s extremely important for a moratorium to be passed before the Department of Environmental Conservation releases the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement.

He tells the audience attorney Rob Wedlake disagrees with Slottje about everything, including that Slottje is bald. Clearly, there is a reason an experienced trial attorney would disagree with Slottje. His law firm wouldn’t stand up in support of Wedlake if they didn’t know and understand the law. But, God forbid, someone disagree with what Slottje says, after all he does consider himself a good transactional lawyer.

Note in the video below he takes another jab at Energy in Depth.

There are a couple of things we want to make note of from this presentation. First, pay careful attention to the question and answer session, which are always cut short because Slottje’s presentation is always long, this one being the perfect example lasting two hours. Once the floor is open to the public, Slottje always tries to be patient with the board members when they ask questions, but then talks down to the members of the audience when they ask questions he doesn’t want to answer.

Finally, he always mentions “many non-lawyers will say…”. We also want to point out many actual lawyers, including Wedlake disagree with what Slottje is trying to sell (he mentioned this at 0:17 in the video above where he also takes his jab at EID).

Once his extremely long presentation was finished he opened the floor for some questions to the board. The board told him they were informed they could be sued individually for passing a moratorium. Sue Dorsey corrected the board member saying Wedlake never said that. Slottje, of course, was upset Dorsey answered so he threw a small hissy fit you can see in the video below. Also, note at about 4:35 how stunned Slottje is when he was told Wedlake took the time to read the zoning code in its entirety.

Slottje mentions he and Helen are not experienced litigating attorneys but he would be able to find a lawyer to represent the village if they get sued. We heard that line in North Norwich. Again, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

In the next video Slottje tells the board not to trust their lawyer to create a road use law. He told the board they should hire someone with more experience because the natural gas industry will certainly ruin the roads. We have stated time and time again, if the roads are damaged the natural gas companies fix the roads as the gas companies also strive to be good neighbors.

Sue Dorsey spoke next. She questioned Slottje’s claims on omissions in his presentation. He tried to intimidate Dorsey by degrading her questions (which he really didn’t even have the answers to). Dorsey asked about New York State Town Law 264 and 265. Slottje wouldn’t discuss both of these because he was in a mixed crowd, both pro-natural gas and anti-natural gas.

“If this board or the village board of trustees decide to engage us I will explain to them why this doesn’t apply. I am not in a million years going to explain it to you.” Slottje said to Dorsey.

That’s respectful. He didn’t stop after trying to intimidate Dorsey, he then tore apart Greg Sovas and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Dorsey got the short end of the stick. The whole night Slottje was indirectly (not literally but symbolically) pointing a finger at Dorsey. She tried to get a word in edge wise when she could, just to correct some of the misinformation he was publicly sharing during his time to speak.

The next man to speak pointed out something I think we all were thinking. He told Slottje Mr. Wedlake was much more respectful throughout his presentation and question and answer segment. This really angered Slottje. Next, the man called him out on his presentation being misleading. The anti-natural gas crowd got angry with this comment too, but really didn’t have a leg to stand on as you can see throughout the question and answer session. Make up your own mind with regards to the respect, or lack thereof, demonstrated by Slottje to the pro- natural gas audience. Watch his question below.

So let’s think back to when Slottje said Tom’s post was misleading. He made the argument that by saying it was an Albany law it was misleading. For the next question Slottje was asked, so is compulsory integration a federal law or an Albany law. He responded by saying an Albany law.   Here is what I said about it in my last post on North Norwich.

He claimed a state regulation wasn’t written by the State (“Albany” in the words of the questioner, although Slottje implies Tom said it) but, rather, by an oil and gas attorney named Tom West (as if that, even if true, didn’t make it a state regulation once adopted).

Talk about confusing and misleading…

Bryant La Tourette asked the next question. La Tourette asked how many cases regarding moratoriums has Slottje won. Slottje isn’t a litigating attorney so the answer is none. Then he asked about the Binghamton City lawsuit (in case you missed it Slottje will be representing Binghamton in their lawsuit).

One article which seemed to be extremely against natural gas development even stated:

The five property owners claim the Binghamton city council and Mayor Matthew Ryan violated state law in December when the city passed a two-year ban on drilling without first seeking approval from the county’s planning department. (Link here)

It’s comforting someone who was accused of illegally passing a natural gas ban supports the man who is litigating for the City. As if Mayor Ryan hasn’t wasted enough City of Binghamton taxpayer dollars bringing water to Dimock, Pennsylvania in city vehicles, across state borders.

One man just wanted to point out a few more inconsistencies about water and natural gas exploration. He provided several great facts and had first hand knowledge of it all.

Denise La Tourette spoke next. Unfortunately, she didn’t get to ask all of her questions because Slottje cut her off after he was upset by her questions. The first question she asked was whether or not Slottje listed his name on the moratorium or if he put the town/village attorneys name on it. He told her if the town/village didn’t have an attorney the Slottje’s would put their name on the moratorium. The next case we would see Slottje’s name on the moratorium would be if the town/village attorney doesn’t agree with the moratorium. Thirdly, if the town/village attorney likes the moratorium they will put their names on it.

Once he was done explaining this even the planning board member was rude and disrespectful to La Tourette. It was clear many members in the audience, including myself, were appalled by the way La Tourette was treated. She had several valid points driving home the point a moratorium would put the village at risk. The board members should have been thankful and taken her warning seriously as they can potentially be sued for enacting a moratorium.

My father, Earl Colley, asked about the appeals case. He mentioned there was still plenty of time for the party to appeal the decision. Slottje went off on another rant about how the Attorney General agrees with him.

The last question was about protecting wetlands. He mentions all the things they can do with a moratorium including creating Critical Environmental Areas (CEA). Basically it seemed Slottje was telling the board what reasons they can use for “needing” a moratorium in the village of Oxford.

At the end of the meeting it was clear Slottje is still trying to sell his cookie cutter moratorium to anyone who will take it. Unfortunately the planning board seemed to believe every word Slottje was saying,; however, many people could see straight through the Slottje show. After all, would you buy a previously owned idea from a man who can’t defend it?


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