Delaware may get gas drilling commission
Though a majority of the council appeared to favor the proposal, the ensuing public discussion veered ironically into opposition by some fracking opponents, who felt it didn’t go far enough. They argued that fracking is the town’s most important business, and the matter should be handled in the regular town meetings, not by a commission. After a brief period of increasingly heated discussion, in which individuals on both sides of the issue tried to calm things down, Sykes restored order by insisting that only those who had signed up to comment speak.
Thomas Kappner argued that a commission is not enough; there should also be a moratorium while the issue is examined further. Describing the resolution as an example of Orwellian double speak, he said, “That resolution manages to undermine the property rights of the vast majority of the town’s residents in the name of property rights.”
Several young women stood up to speak about their concerns for their children and families, including Jen Watts, who broke down in tears at the end of her plea to the council to reconsider their stand on gas drilling, and Nyssa Calkin, who said she had turned down a job offer on Maui because this is her paradise. The women pointed out that they and families like theirs would probably move away, or decide not to move in, because of the town’s policies on fracking.
Among the few voices speaking on the other side of the issue was farmer Bill Graby, who represented gas drilling as the face of progress, and asked the crowd whether they would have supported the railroad or Route 97 when those first came through the area. Noel van Swol of the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners Association, who congratulated the board on its courage, cited a long list of towns that had passed similar resolutions and described those responsible for such resolutions as people who “had paid their taxes and are not trust-fund babies,” a phrase to which the crowd responded with laughter and cries of “come on.”
By the end of the meeting, most of the comments had come round to an agreement with the basic idea first voiced by Lundgren: the importance of creating a venue for a civil and scientific dialogue about the pros and cons of drilling. The last word came from Highway Superintendent William Eschenberg: “I have stood here, and I have listened, and I have listened to the antis, and to the pros… what are you trying to do? Destroy [the town] among yourselves? People have to stop the crap and work together on this… find a happy medium and work together. That’s what it’s all about.”
The council took no action on the proposal before adjourning.