Something for everyone?
Sign a lease and become a millionaire. Lose your water and become—essentially homeless? Shouldn’t the ruining of your home be compensated? If lessors receive half a million just for signing a lease, why shouldn’t their neighbors, who are forced to sacrifice the peaceful enjoyment of their home, receive a quarter of a million? The depressed market value of their home would not be enough. Not for the cost, not to mention the grief, of having to relocate.
Thankfully, two New York politicians, state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, a Democrat, and state Senator Greg Ball, a Republican/Conservative, have each proposed legislation that requires that the gas industry be responsible for the consequences of fracking. In slightly different ways, each stipulates that strict liability, a presumption of causation, be applied in cases of damage from drilling and fracking, and both require reimbursement to homeowners who suffer that damage.
The DiNapoli proposal calls for the imposition of a surcharge on drilling permits to create the Natural Gas Damage Recovery Fund similar in structure to the existing Oil Spill Fund, and would also require oil and natural gas companies to post surety bonds to cover any shortfall between fund resources and remediation costs. At the last Town of Delaware council meeting, the board expressed basic approval of the DiNapoli proposal.
The Ball proposal goes even further than the DiNapoli in specifying that homeowners be compensated by 150% of pre-drilling estimates of market value of their homes.
Let’s all contact Senator Bonacic and Assemblyperson Gunther to get behind these proposed bills. This should be something even the Friends of Natural Gas, who claim there is something for everyone, should get behind. The gas companies can afford it, justice demands it, and the law should require it.
Senator John Bonacic, 188 State Street Room 509 Legislative Office Building, Albany, NY 12247, 518/455-5355.
Assemblyperson Aileen Gunther Room 435 Legislative Office Building Albany, NY 12248. 518/455-3181.