Corporate welfare “queen” Jennifer Huntington‘s Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, has appealed the Middlefield verdict (which, like the Dryden suit, contained the fanciful Sovas affidavit) by simply copying Frack Zombie Rent-a-Plaintiff’s appeal against Dryden – substituting “Corporate Welfare Queen” for “Frack Zombie Rent-a-Plaintiff.” All this made possible by the fact that they share the same lobbyist, the recently vivisected Tom West. So if you want to actually wade through the appeal, you can save yourself the trouble of reading them both by just reading the Dryden version and wherever you read “Frack Zombie Rent-a-Plaintiff” substitute “Corporate Welfare Queen” (hereinafter “CWQ”) and you are good-to-go on this cut-n-paste cow pattie.
Of course, the facts of the cases are remarkably similar (apart that the fact that the Frack Zombie Rent-a-Plaintiff actually had no beef against the town until they were brought in/ bought in as a Rent-a-Plaintiff). Since neither plaintiff actually ever had a permit to drill a well in either town, and, in the case of Anschutz/ Frack Zombie, had nothing but a short term lease to prospect for gas – during a statewide moratorium on such activities. In the case of CWQ, she shows her mineral rights as being udderly worthless on the tax rolls, which, based on recent tests of the Utica and Marcellus in her neighborhood, would not be a stretch of the teet to prove. The lease to drill on her property was to a speculator, who did not participate in her suit against the town. So her suit reads as a kind of glorified publicity stunt that she has milked for all it’s worth, and which was evidently subsidized by Anschutz via cloned legal filings. In MBA-speak that means one thing for both of them: neither case ever had any economic substance. They were both rank speculations. And speculations do not a damage claim make. Much less a plausible challenge to a lawfully enacted zoning ordinance based on a comprehensive land plan.
They are complaining about a land use ordinances that did not damage them. They filed while the town – along with the rest of the state was under a drilling moratorium. They challenged the town’s police power to apply land use controls in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, simply by way of challenging the law. Which is why they used a fracking lobbyist (or the lobbyist is using them ?) instead of a real land use attorney. That might explain why neither plaintiff is actually paying the lobbyist to file appeals on their behalf. And why there is an odd assortment of amici for the Rent-A-Plaintiff and CWQ, including one from a group that thinks that gas is harvested, and that mineral rights are udderly worthless.
Three New York trial courts have held that, while the state can regulate how gas wells are drilled, a town can regulate where. In New York as in other states. Absent those protections, a New York town would be left wide-open to the virtually unregulated placement of wells, and landowners could be threatened by privatized eminent domain as adjudicated by New York’s Nonexistent Environmental Agency. That is the same agency that has given blanket protections to many New Yorkers by prohibiting fracking in New York City’s watershed.
Although Tom West appears to have copied the Dryden paperwork for this appeal, another lawyer, Scott Kurkowski is listed. You may remember Kurkowski as the attorney that promoted the “frack us” town resolution, which is a tacit acknowledgement of home rule, whereby town board members, many of whom have leased or are in leasing groups, pass a resolution without notification, without a public hearing and without reference to a comprehensive plan that says that they (the town board) want the town to get fracked, regardless of what the state regulations are – since all of these “frack us” resolutions were passed while there was a statewide moratorium on horizontal shale wells, and the state regulations had not yet been issued. Real responsible, eh ? Yet that’s the plan from Ms. Huntington’s legal counsel – who got her into this lawsuit. They have picked Kurkowski to handle the oral arguments; here’s a sample of what the appellate court is in for, a gaseous infomercial:
So now Ms. Huntington joins Frack Zombie Rent-a-Plaintiff in sleep-walking towards the appellate court, after their lobbyist/ lawyer insulted the trial courts’ integrity in front of an audience at the Albany Law School. All this in time for Halloween.