“Frack Us” resolutions put towns at risk because they rely on regulations that were written by Chesapeake. For Chesapeake, not the town. The DEC just takes notes.
1. The DEC cannot protect any roads.
The DEC is not empowered to protect town roads, county roads, or state roads. The protection of town roads is totally up to the town, not the county, not the state. If the town fails to enact a road use ordinance, the taxpayers will be obligated to pay to repair damage done by frack trucks, the drillers are not liable for such repairs, absent a town ordinance.
2. The DEC will not protect homes, businesses or water supplies.
The DEC’s set backs of a gas well from structures and water supplies is the worst in the United States. The DEC’s regulatory set backs for shale gas wells virtually guarantee that water wells will be contaminated and home owners will lose their mortgages and insurance. The DEC is notoriously lax in enforcing its own regulations. No town can rely on the DEC to protect water supplies or the built environment; that is not the DEC’s job, it’s the town’s responsibility to do so. The DEC, in fact, is mandated by Article 23 of the NYS Environmental Conservation Law to ‘maximize the efficiency with which oil and gas are extracted.” As interpreted by the DEC, this leaves the protection of land uses and drinking water up to the town.
3. The town board has a legal obligation to protect roads and land uses.
It is not only the town’s right to protect its roads, if the town board reasonably believes that the roads will be damaged by frack trucks, it is the town board’s obligation to do something about it. The same obligation applies to protecting land uses and water supplies. “It is a legislature’s right and, particularly in matters of … land use and planning, its obligation as well to anticipate future problems and to enact measures to guard against them, though in fact the anticipated events may never come to pass.” Legal citation: [Town of Huntington v. Park Shore Country Day Camp, 47 NY2d 61 (1979)]
4. The DEC’s regulations were written by the gas industry for the gas industry.
The state’s compulsory integration law was written word for word by Chesapeake’s lobbyist.  As enforced by the DEC, it is the worst compulsory integration law in the United States. The shale gas regulations were drafted by Chesapeake’s lobbyist, who has been given drafts to review, to insure that the DEC staff got the wording right.  Chesapeake did not write these regulations to protect houses, roads and drinking water.
5. The town cannot rely on regulations that have not been issued.
The presumption of the “frack us first” resolution is that the DEC’s shale gas regulations are sufficient to protect the town.  That amounts to governance by wishful thinking, because the regulations have not been issued yet. And there is no history to indicate that the regulations will be sufficient to protect town roads, land uses and water supplies. Those protections are best addressed at the town level, not by state bureaucrats, and they must be addressed prior to the issuance of drilling permits.
6. Most voters will not benefit from shale industrialization.
A recent study by Penn State confirms that most residents will not directly benefit from shale gas industrialization. 90% of the residents studied did not own enough land to lease, and they will be hard pressed to find work in their own town on a rig exploring for gas – to the detriment of town roads, homes and water wells.
James L Northrup