Home rule is the method
To The Editor:
Home rule and its importance to citizens and towns of the Catskills runs very deep. Witness the strong reaction in “Loss of ‘home rule’’ feared in DEP’s watershed rules” - CMN 3/26/2013. Mr. Cox, who led the discussion of the meeting of the Catskill Watershed Corporation “was ready to throw out the proverbial red flag for any wording… that could be construed as forfeiture… of home rule.”
Considering this, it’s amazing that most Delaware County towns, and the county board of supervisors promote fracking and/or pipelines. They forget or ignore this deeply felt sentiment about home rule. They fail to understand the long-range damage to home rule if fracking or pipelines are permitted.
Home rule is gutted when lands are leased for fracking. Gas-drilling leases give control of the land to the driller. Towns who allow fracking lose control of their roads and their ability to protect their citizen’s health and way of life. Landowners who don’t want fracking can be forced by compulsory integration, to allow drilling under their land.
Gas pipeline easements result in a similar loss of local control. Pipeline companies force the landowner, using eminent domain, to grant pipeline easements. Their town is helpless to protect landowners once the process is permitted.
Recently, FracTrackers showed 53 bans, 106 moratoria and 91 movements for prohibitions of fracking in New York State. The Frackers have sued four towns to overturn fracking bans with no success. For now, home rule is upheld. However, the Frackers are appealing the decision. The future is uncertain.
Seeing the destruction in Pennsylvania, people are becoming more aware of the grim reality which industrialization of the Catskills would bring. In a recent Sienna Poll, by a margin of 43-39 percent, New York voters oppose lifting the moratorium on fracking. Yet the future of the fracking moratorium is uncertain.
Big gas is furiously trying to control the outcome, spending multi-million sums on media, propaganda, grants and lobbying. They are trying to buy their way in, to control our land.
Now is the time to prevent the industrialization of the Catskills. Your town board must protect you. It’s their obligation. Using home rule is the method.
As Andes Supervisor Marty Donnelly wisely said, if fracking were to come and one mistake was made, “it can’t be taken back.”