Appalachian Basin

Residents Don’t Want a Natural Gas Moratorium in Columbus

Natural gas development is moving closer in New York, and may possibly even happen as soon as September, so we’re seeing more and more towns making final decisions on whether or not to approve a ban or moratorium on natural gas development.  Last night was no exception as  Columbus (Chenango County) held a public hearing to discuss this topic in preparation for their town board meeting this Thursday where they may take a vote. Out of a room of around 50 people at the meeting, it was clear the overwhelming majority are on board with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and conveyed this to their board.

A History of Natural Gas Development

Columbus residents have a small advantage over other towns considering bans as they are near Lebanon and Smyrna, two towns with existing vertical natural gas wells. This has provided residents the opportunity to see development first hand, with more surface impact than will come from Marcellus development. A few speakers even mentioned traveling to the towns to see what natural gas development looks like first hand, as well as going to Pennsylvania for a comparison.

The first man to speak said he visited the wells in the surrounding towns on several different occasion. Based on what he’s seen and further research, he’s completely against a natural gas moratorium or ban. He also brought up how, like what’s occurring in Pennsylvania, the company who developed the land for vertical wells fixed any damage done to roads. Others also spoke of visiting the wells in surrounding town, as can be viewed in the following videos.

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Landowners in the Community Show Support of Development

After this gentleman spoke a woman stated she owned 25 acres and is part of a local coalition. She also didn’t support any sort of moratorium.

Vic Furman spoke next. He argued there are 32 states developing natural gas throughout the country. His coalition called state representatives from these other states and were told time and again they haven’t experienced any problems working with the natural gas industry.

Yet another individual spoke in support of natural gas development following Furman’s remarks. He said his family had been in the area for generations. He loves to hunt and fish which and he trusts the DEC. Watch the video below for yourself to see the points he made.

Sue Dorsey also provided remarks and used her time to refute claims made by others. She brought up several great points including why would the DEC add staff right now when the state has yet to approve natural gas development? This would be like New York City adding a metro system before it became a large city. Watch her video below.

Following Dorsey another resident who worked for the state said Dorsey hit the nail on the head.

Bryant La Tourette also spoke. He questioned whether a town board should be able to take away property rights if the state approves a process.

Earl Colley discussed home rule and then asked the board a question. If they think they are better prepared to determine the safety of natural gas operations are they prepared to put in the time, energy, and resources the DEC has to conduct their own tests on natural gas development?

There was also a man who talked about his three sons. He, of course as we all do, wants to make sure we have clean air and water. He commented on how no one on the board is a natural gas expert and they simply do not have the answers to the questions like the DEC. The DEC has been working on this for four years and has sifted through some 60,000+ comments on the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, making them the experts. As such, he doesn’t support a moratorium or ban.

The secretary for the Joint Landowners Coalition is also a dairy farmer in Columbus. She spoke in support of natural gas development as well. She mentioned she was there testifying personally, not as a Joint Landowners Coalition representative. She argued the town board is not as qualified to make decisions on this as the DEC is.

Brendon Loomis said the town already had a road use agreement in place and asked why they need a moratorium?  He pointed out the risks to taxpayers money if the board moves forward with a moratorium.

Antis Come Baring Scary Stories with No Facts as Usual

The first speaker against development argued the natural gas industry uses too much water and not enough water comes back out of the ground once a well is hydraulically fractured.  He also argued the industry is hiding the additives they use in the process. In closing he said natural gas will leave the town a ghost town in three to five years.

Please recall the blog here where I discuss the breakdown of methane and explain that when methane is combusted it actually creates water. As for hiding additives, multiple states have enacted disclosure laws and the natural gas industry is voluntary disclosing additives on

A few in support of a ban ended the meeting. Outrageously enough they claim they would support natural gas as long as the wells are vertical because, according to them, it uses less water. They don’t like the idea of an industrialized area. Ironically enough, if the state only allowed natural gas to be done vertically they would see 32 vertical wells in an area as opposed to 1 horizontal natural gas well. I’m still trying to understand how more surface disturbance is better for the environment, but I digress. Watch the following videos and see if you can make sense of it.

At the end of the public hearing it was clear, the residents of Columbus do not want a moratorium on natural gas development in their town. Upstate New York is already littered with ghost towns as farmers are losing their farms and old store fronts are being condemned because they have been abandoned due to lack of sales. Natural gas is a long term solution and his 3-5 year projection is false. In fact, just this week it was projected development will occur for at least 100 years!

As a result, there was overwhelming support and trust in the DEC, and residents have confidence the DEC has the resources it needs to regulate the industry and ensure responsible development. It’s hard to argue with numbers.


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