>>> call it the little town that could. in 2011 , rural dryden in upstate new york , population, 14,500, banned hydraulic fracking, prompting the anchills exploration corporation to shoe. the energy company wanted the court to force the company to accept the fracking. not only did the town fight back, it garnered the support of 20,000 people to support them in their fight. in may of this year, a lower court affirmed the decision that dryden had the right to ban oil and gas exploration in their towns. but this fight is far from over, as norse energy has now filed papers to have the latest decision reversed. and deborah, this is your town of dryden . and essentially at issue is whether or not once theprivate company had gone to private land owners and including farm owners, and bought up the leases, whether that could be enforced by the state , even the locality said, we don’t want this practice.
>> so new york is a home rule state . and basically, that means that local governments have the right to, and the jurisdiction, to say what they’re going to do with land use . and they do that through zoning. and so what dryden did was they passed a law through their zoning ordinance that said that they do not allow heavy industrial uses, such ashydraulic fracturing . so, the ban is actually to preserve our community character, and we are very rural area . and this is to, really to embrace what we have as a comprehensive plan to stay as a rural area , and to preserve that, that the people there really enjoy and that’s why we live there.
>> and i want to go back to josh on this — on luke to this, i’m sorry. luke , the context, i was reading a piece in mother jones that talked about kind of the difference about what’s happening in dryden and what’s happening in texas , where you don’t have this sort of home rule applying. where people are having wells near their basketball courtsand near their schools and this is just happening and people don’t feel they have the ability or the right to stop them. what remedies is your organization seeking to give people what the people in dryden were able to get, basically a say over whether fracking takes place.
>> sure. well, we haven’t had any towns ban fracking in texas , but we have had some communities step up and adopt some very tough ordinances to really protect public health and safety of the community, like flowermound, texas , and others in the dallasfodalla dallas-ft. worth area. dallas is considering strong restrictions on drilling. because it’s happening right in the middle of people’s neighborhoods and near schools and homes and playgrounds. so some communities have stepped up to try to adopt restrictions. the oil and gas industry in response has tried the to get the texas legislature to prevent communities from adopting these kind of ordinances. but we definitely encourage communities to take up their rights and adopt some protections to help limit the impacts of drilling to the community.
>> and i want to bring uni back in here. because this is a question of community who is, and we were talking about in the break, may not really know what fracking is, but they have a feeling they just don’t like it. there is a piece that talks about how many people actually know what fracking is. and the vast majority of people, something like 40%, haven’t heard at all about fracking. really don’t know what it is. so it’s a technology that is sort of foreign to people. they don’t know what it is, but there’s a sense of, you know, i don’t want this in by backyard. do you think that’s based on founded or basscience or an unfounded fear?
>> you mentioned feeling. when people don’t know something, they tend to go with their feelings, like i said. but the gap is not so much, how can i put it, i think it’s just the inability, the industry didn’t go ahead and really educate people about it. i could use my town as an example, which is pretty close to middlefield. when the gas company came to drill a vertical well, they were required by the state not to really inform anybody of anything. and they went ahead and run about 20 trucks through the town to go fracture a site. and after that, you know, the community complained and there was a lot of, you know, pushback. and the next permit that came out, the state required the company to educate the criminals, to go to the town board and talk to the town board. but because the ship had sailed down that road and people are already afraid, and trying to talk about this technical issue and trying to put it in a form where people can understand, is really difficult. you sat here and said it was really hard for you to understand all the different nuances in it. i usually try to focus on my part of that pie, because that’s where my education is. but we have people like josh, whose, i don’t even know what his education background is, telling people about engineering, technology, and stuff. the cartoon you showed earlier was such a misrepresentation —
>> but can we — if it’s the gas company itself —
>> i’m a reporter.
>> if it’s the gas company —
>> and i’ve been reporting on this issue for five years. we have evidence that fracking causes water contamination . we have evidence, considerable evidence, that fracking causes air pollution . we have 25% of fourth graders in the barnett shale currently have asthma. that’s three times the state average. we have evidence that fracking destroys communities. we have evidence that fracking contaminates our government with an enormous amount of political influence. these are all things that have been widely reported on, widely reported on. but what we don’t have is a sense of what “we” is. and when we’re talking about here about oil and gas companies, the economic benefits, what we get out of this, i’m telling you we don’t get benefits. these are multi-national oil and gas companies that are causing human rights violations in our own backyard. and somehow we have adopted them as our economic boom . well, that is not what happens in these places. these places get destroyed. their water resource is destroyed, as you noted, in this town, one town in texas that we’re looking at. dryden is an example of what’s happening all across new york state . new yorkers have fought off the oil and gas industry , which is a foreign industry, coming to new york state , to come to toxify and degrade the landscape. i know because i’m a member of a frontline company. the property right across my house was leased. we fought them off and that lease was canceled. but if they were drilling across the street, my property values would go to zero. these things are not about me or my education. these things are being reported on, wildly, all across this nation and all across this — to deny that they’re happening is simple denial.
>> but it’s —
>> first, i find it offensive, because i think the fact — this isn’t a question of — i completely respect your ph.d, i respect your education —
>> my masters.
>> or your masters. but i studied economics, and i think to say that, to me, it is not just a debate about the process, but to debate the process would be to ignore the outcome.
>> right? and what we are not debating is, would you — do you believe that people’s water system isn’t being destroyed?
>> i don’t believe that.
>> you don’t believe — so when you see — what do you think is happening?
>> i quantify things.
>> not quantify. let’s just say —
>> i’m a quantified thinker. so when you say people, do you mean 1 out of 100, 2 out of 100?
>> right, right.
>> but —
>> no, if you look at some of the wells being developed, there are some that are perfect.
>> but —
>> it’s about probability.
>> it is about probability.
>> let me ask you this question. would you want one of these wells, literally, in your own backyard.
>> yes, i would.
>> and you have no fear this would affect the health of your family?
>> no, and you know why? because i utilize natural gas products. i utilize oil in my car that drove me here, that was from a fractured well. and i wear —
>> but do you believe, however, that if deborah does not one of these wells in her backyard that her community has the right to say no. that whatever the oil company would say in educating people about them, if people don’t want them, do they have a right to say no?
>> i believe people have a right to say no. but based on real evidence .
>> but you said it’s 1 in 100. and the thing that is just so hard for me to understand and to accept, is what you’re saying to me, the scientific data says that we sacrifice 1 for the other 99, and i’m not willing to sacrifice the 1. and that’s the difference. the 1 is not someone in beverly hills . the reason that african-american kids are more likely to have asthma, the reason latino kids are more likely to have asthma, the reality is, the consequences of that one is not a random, scientific one, that one is a kid of color, an older person of color, or increasingly, a poor white person in texas . and that is not the values of this country.
>> okay. hold on a second. because one of those ones is represented by luke . luke is representing people in that very situation. luke , i want to give you one more word, because we do have to let you go. so luke metzger, give us your final take on this from the point of view of people who are represented by this. whether they understand the science or not, they don’t want it.
>> that’s right. i mean, clearly there are lots of concerns by people in texas about risk of contamination, the air pollution , the huge amount of water use. there’s also a growing concern about the huge economic costs from fracking. so, for example, the state of texas estimates we’re going to have to spend about $400 million on infrastructure to provide water to the oil and gas companies for fracking. to frac a single well takes hundreds of trucks carrying water. the trucks that damage our roads at a cost of about $1 billion a year to repair. there are real costs to the taxpayers, the rate payers of texas that come with fracking that don’t get enough attention.
>> we’re going to continue this debate on the other side of the break, but for now, luke metzger, thank you very much for joining us from austin, texas .
>> thanks, joy.
OVER-EDITED DOCUMENTS ABOUT THE CAYUGA OPERATING PLANT’S FUTURE HAVE LEFT THE PUBLIC IN THE DARK, ACCORDING TO SEVERAL LOCAL LEADERS WHO GATHERED FOR A NEWS CONFERENCE MONDAY AT ITHACA TOWN HALL.
THE NEW YORK STATE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IS ACCEPTING PUBLIC COMMENTS UNTIL FRIDAY ABOUT WHETHER LANSING’S COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT SHOULD BE CLOSED OR RETROFITTED.
SPEAKERS AT THE NEWS CONFERENCE DENOUNCED THE PUBLIC COMMENT PROCESS. THEY SAID THE OVER-EDITED DOCUMENTS DEPRIVED THE PUBLIC OF CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND ECONOMIC INFORMATION, BLOCKING EFFECTIVE PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE ISSUE.
THE GROUP CALLED FOR PUBLICATION OF UNEDITED DOCUMENTS AND AN EXTENSION OF THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD.
COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE COUNCIL MANAGING ATTORNEY HELEN SLOTTJE SPOKE AT THE NEWS CONFERENCE. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION HAS A LEGAL OBLIGATION TO MAKE FINANCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC, SHE SAID.
THE DOCUMENTS THEY WANT PUBLISHED WITHOUT REDACTIONS ARE CAYUGA OPERATING PLANT’S MARCH 26 REPORT, WHICH SUGGESTS THE PLANT BE RETROFITTED, AND NEW YORK STATE ELECTRIC & GAS CORP.’S MAY 17 REPORT, SUGGESTING THE PLANT BE CLOSED IN FAVOR OF TRANSMISSION LINE UPGRADES.
SLOTTJE SAID WEIGHING TRANSMISSION LINE UPGRADES VERSUS RETROFITTING IS A FALSE CHOICE. SHE SAID GOV. ANDREW CUOMO IS ATTEMPTING TO DEFLECT PUBLIC ATTENTION FROM THE POWER PLANT’S RETROFITTING COST AND WHY ANOTHER FOSSIL-FUEL PLANT IS BEING CONSIDERED.
ABOUT 30 PEOPLE ATTENDED THE NEWS CONFERENCE, AND MANY PEOPLE CARRIED PICKET SIGNS.
LANSING RESIDENT MARGARET MCCASLAND SAID THERE WASN’T ENOUGH PUBLIC INFORMATION ON THE CHOICE BETWEEN THE PLANT’S POSSIBLE CLOSURE OR RETROFITTING. MCCASLAND ADDED THAT SHE WANTS TO KNOW HOW MUCH RETROFITTING THE PLANT WILL COST NYSEG RATEPAYERS.
IF THOSE CUSTOMERS ARE ASKED TO PAY FOR RETROFITTING THE PLANT, TOWN OF ITHACA SUPERVISOR HERB ENGMAN SAID AT THE NEWS CONFERENCE, THEN THE PROJECT SHOULD FOCUS ON RENEWABLE ENERGY, AND NOT FURTHER DEVELOPING INFRASTRUCTURE THAT DEPENDS ON UNSUSTAINABLE FOSSIL FUELS.
THE TOMPKINS COUNTY LEGISLATURE’S PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE TODAY INDICATED ITS SUPPORT FOR A PROPOSED CAPITAL PROJECT TO MODIFY THE COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING TO INCREASE JAIL CAPACITY—A PROJECT THAT COULD BE EXPECTED TO DECREASE THE COUNTY’S INMATE BOARD-OUT COSTS.
THE RECOMMENDED PROJECT WOULD CONSTRUCT A SECURE COVERED OUTDOOR YEAR-ROUND RECREATION AREA AT THE JAIL, THEN WOULD RENOVATE A LITTLE-USED EXISTING INTERIOR RECREATION SPACE AS DORMITORY HOUSING TO PROVIDE SEVEN ADDITIONAL JAIL BEDS. A LATER OPTIONAL PHASE OF THE PROJECT COULD ADD SEVEN MORE BEDS BY CONVERTING THE EXISTING LIBRARY INTO DORMITORY SPACE. THE $900,000 PRELIMINARY COST ESTIMATE WOULD INCLUDE CONSTRUCTION OF THE OUTDOOR RECREATION AREA AND THE INITIAL SEVEN-BED DORMITORY SPACE.
WITH A MAXIMUM JAIL CAPACITY OF 75 INMATES, AND A TEMPORARY VARIANCE THAT ALLOWS A MAXIMUM OF 95 INMATES, THE COUNTY, OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS, HAS HAD TO BOARD-OUT TO OTHER COUNTIES’ JAILS AN AVERAGE OF JUST OVER 6 INMATES PER DAY, A RATE THAT ROSE TO MORE THAN 8 PER DAY OVER THE PAST YEAR. AT A CURRENT COST OF $80 PER INMATE PER DAY, THE COUNTY IN 2012 SPENT $244,000 TO BOARD INMATES AT OTHER JAILS, NOT INCLUDING THE ASSOCIATED TRANSPORT COST. COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR JOE (MAR-EE-‘A-NEE) MAREANE TOLD THE COMMITTEE HE BELIEVES THAT A STRONG BUSINESS CASE EXISTS FOR THE RENOVATION PROJECT. THE PROPOSAL WILL NEXT BE CONSIDERED BY THE LEGISLATURE’S BUDGET AND CAPITAL COMMITTEE BEFORE ADVANCING TO THE FULL LEGISLATURE.
NEW YORK STATE GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO DEBATED THE PROS AND CONS OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING ON MONDAY’S BROADCAST OF “CAPITOL PRESSROOM”, BUT HE SAID THE STATE HAS YET TO REACH A CONCLUSION ON THE CONTROVERSIAL DRILLING PRACTICE.
HYDROFRACKING HAS BEEN ON HOLD IN NEW YORK SINCE 2008 AS STATE REGULATORS REVIEW THE POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE DRILLING TECHNIQUE. THE PRIME SPOT FOR HYDROFRACKING WOULD BE IN THE SOUTHERN TIER, WHICH SITS ABOVE THE GAS-RICH MARCELLUS SHALE.
CUOMO HAS BEEN WAITING ON A REVIEW BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, BUT THE DEPARTMENT’S RESEARCH HAS DRAGGED ON FOR MONTHS, WITH NO DETAILS ON WHEN IT WOULD BE FINISHED OR WHAT IS CURRENTLY BEING STUDIED. IN FEBRUARY, HEALTH COMMISSIONER (NIH-RAV) NIRAV SHAH SAID HE WOULD COMPLETE HIS REVIEW IN THE “NEXT FEW WEEKS.”
ASKED ABOUT THE DELAY, CUOMO SAID, “WE DON’T HAVE AN UPDATE AT THIS TIME FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH.”
CUOMO, A FIRST-TERM DEMOCRAT, HAS BEEN CAUGHT BETWEEN PRESSURE FROM ENVIRONMENTALISTS TO BAN HYDROFRACKING AND THE GAS INDUSTRY THAT WANTS TO TAP INTO THE REGION’S ENERGY SUPPLY. AND VOTERS ARE SPLIT: A SIENA COLLEGE POLL MONDAY SHOWED 41 PERCENT OF VOTERS SUPPORTED FRACKING AND 42 PERCENT OPPOSED—CONSISTENT WITH THE DIVIDE FOUND IN MYRIAD POLLS IN RECENT YEARS.
CUOMO HAS SOUGHT TO REBUILD THE UPSTATE ECONOMY, AND THE SOUTHERN TIER HAS SUFFERED AMONG THE WORST JOB LOSSES IN THE STATE. CUOMO WARNED THAT HYDROFRACKING COULD HELP CERTAIN AREAS—IF THE COMMUNITIES WANTED THE DRILLING—BUT WOULDN’T BE A PANACEA FOR THE WHOLE UPSTATE ECONOMY.
STILL, CUOMO DIDN’T RULE OUT THAT FRACKING WOULD MOVE FORWARD. HE HAS REPEATEDLY SAID THE STATE’S DECISION WOULD BE BASED ON FACTS, NOT EMOTIONS.
“THERE’S NO REASON WHY HYDROFRACKING IN THOSE PLACES COULDN’T BE CONDUCTED AS PART OF THIS ECONOMIC AGENDA THAT WE HAVE. WE HAVE A VERY REGIONALIZED ECONOMIC AGENDA,” CUOMO SAID. “IN THE PLACES WHERE HYDROFRACKING COULD WORK, GREAT.”