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Groups FOIL fracking documents; towns that adopted pro-drilling resolutions are targeted

By Fritz Mayer
October 10, 2012

NEW YORK STATE — The battle between pro- and anti-fracking forces in New York State opened on a new front this week as two groups sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to three towns that have passed pro-gas drilling resolutions.
In letters dated October 2, the National Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy contacted the towns of Delaware and Fremont in Sullivan County and Sanford in Broome County.

The letters specifically ask for documents regarding communications with the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which has crafted a pro-drilling resolution that has been adopted by a number of towns in the state. The letters also seek copies of communications between the towns and any organizations or businesses connected to drilling.

Additionally, the letters ask for copies of any communications with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office or the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, which may be significant because Cuomo has indicated that a town’s acceptance of drilling may be a determining factor in whether drilling and fracking will be allowed to go forward in a given municipality.

The copies of communications sought to deal with a number of gas-related activities such as zoning, leasing and gas production.

Further, there have been charges that the towns did not follow the Open Meetings Law when adopting the resolutions, and documents related to that are also requested. For example, the Town of Fremont is asked to supply “The required notice, pursuant to the Open Meetings Law, for the July 11, 2012 town board meeting” and the Town of Sanford is asked for “The September 11, 2012 town board resolution prohibiting public comment on natural gas development during the public participation portion of town board meetings.”


40 West 20th Street P.O. Box 103
11th Floor Fremont Center, NY 12736
New York, NY 10011 (845) 468-7063
(212) 727-2700

Tess McBeath, Town Clerk
Town of Delaware
P.O. Box 129
Hortonville, NY 12745
(845) 887-5250 ext. 5

September 26, 2012

Dear Ms. McBeath:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”) and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy (“CSSE”) write to request disclosure of records relating to the consideration of potential natural gas extraction within the Town of Delaware pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), Article 6 of the Public Officers Law §§ 84–90.

I. Description of Records Sought

Please produce the following records or portions of records within the Town’s possession, control, or custody from January 1, 2012, to the present. For purposes herein, the “Town” shall include, but not be limited to, the Town Clerk, Town Council or any other official of the Town.

A. Records or communications exchanged between the Town and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (“JLCNY”) or any member thereof; or between the Town and organizations representing oil and natural gas interests; or between the Town and any businesses engaged in the extraction, processing, storage, or transportation of oil or natural gas; or between the Town and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”); or between the Town and the Office of the Governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, relating to:

1. The June 20, 2012 Town Council resolution relating to natural gas drilling in the Town of Delaware;
2. The June 26, 2012 Town Council “landowners’ rights” resolution resolving that any landowner or entity owning mineral rights within the Town of Delaware has the right to determine how they “exercise and protect” those rights;
3. The sale or leasing of Town of Delaware land for the extraction, production, storage, or transportation of natural gas;
4. The zoning or re-zoning of Town of Delaware land for the extraction, production, storage, or transportation of natural gas;
5. Potential natural gas extraction, production, storage, or transportation within the Town of Delaware generally; and
6. The current statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York.

II. Request for Fee and Copying Flexibility

Please consult with NRDC before undertaking any action that would cause the Town to levy a fee under Public Officers Law Article 6, § 87(1)(c)(iv). Please provide NRDC with notice of the number of responsive documents before engaging in acts for which a fee would be demanded, for example, making copies. We also request that the Town make any responsive documents available, on Town premises, for inspection. Further, we also request that wherever possible, copies of all responsive records be provided in electronic format.

III. Conclusion

We look forward to your response to our request within five (5) business days of receipt, as provided by Public Officers Law § 89(3).

Subject to Section II, above, please produce the records requested by emailing or mailing them to us at the NRDC office address listed below. Please produce them on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for, or deliberations concerning, certain records delay the production of others that the Town has already retrieved and elected to produce.

If the Town declines to produce any portion of our request, please inform us of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed. If the Town concludes that some of the records requested may already be publically available, we will be happy to discuss those conclusions. Please feel free to call or email us with questions.

Thank you for your time and attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Jonathon Krois
Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10011
E: jkrois@nrdc.org
T: (212) 727-2700

Bruce Ferguson
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
P.O. Box 103
Fremont Center, NY 12736
T: (845) 482-5037

40 West 20th Street P.O. Box 103
11th Floor Fremont Center, NY 12736
New York, NY 10011 (845) 468-7063
(212) 727-2700

Mesa Greier, Town Clerk
Town of Fremont
12 County Road 95
Fremont Center, NY 12736
(845) 887-6055

October 2, 2012

Dear Ms. Greier:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”) and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy (“CCSE”) write to request disclosure of records relating to the consideration of potential natural gas extraction within the Town of Fremont pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), Article 6 of the Public Officers Law §§ 84–90.

I. Description of Records Sought

Please produce the following records or portions of records within the Town’s possession, control, or custody from January 1, 2008, to the present. For purposes herein, the “Town” shall include, but not be limited to, the Town Clerk, Town Board or any other official of the Town.

A. Records or communications exchanged between the Town and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (“JLCNY”) or any member thereof; or between the Town and organizations representing oil and natural gas interests; or between the Town and any businesses engaged in the extraction, processing, storage, or transportation of oil or natural gas; or between the Town and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”); or between the Town and the Office of the Governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, relating to:

1. The July 11, 2012 Town Board resolution relating to natural gas drilling in the Town of Fremont;
2. The sale or leasing of Town of Fremont land for the extraction, production, storage, or transportation of natural gas;
3. The zoning or re-zoning of Town of Fremont land for the extraction, production, storage, or transportation of natural gas;
4. Potential natural gas extraction, production, storage, or transportation within the Town of Fremont generally; and
5. The current statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in New York.

B. The agenda, if any, for the July 11, 2012 Town Board meeting.

C. The required published notice, pursuant to the Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law §§ 100–111), for the July 11, 2012 Town Board Meeting.

D. Records or communications exchanged between the Town Board and the members of the public relating to:

1. Requests by members of the public for the agenda for the July 11, 2012 Town Board meeting;
2. The agenda for the July 11, 2012 Town Board meeting, generally;
3. The required notice, pursuant to the Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law §§ 100–111), for the July 11, 2012 Town Board meeting;
4. The possibility that a resolution addressing natural gas extraction, production, storage, or transportation would be put forward at the July 11, 2012 Town Board meeting; and
5. The topics of discussion generally at the July 11, 2012 Town Board meeting.

II. Request for Fee and Copying Flexibility

Please consult with NRDC and CCSE before undertaking any action that would cause the Town of Fremont to levy a fee under Public Officers Law Article 6, § 87(1)(c)(iv). Please provide NRDC and CCSE with notice of the number of responsive documents before engaging in acts for which a fee would be demanded, for example, making copies. We also request that the Town of Fremont make any responsive documents available, on Town premises, for inspection. Further, we also request that wherever possible, copies of all responsive records be provided in electronic format.

III. Conclusion

We look forward to your response to our request within five (5) business days of receipt, as provided by Public Officers Law § 89(3).

Subject to Section II, above, please produce the records requested by emailing or mailing them to us at the NRDC office address listed below. Please produce them on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for, or deliberations concerning, certain records delay the production of others that the Town of Fremont has already retrieved and elected to produce.

If the Town of Fremont declines to produce any portion of our request, please inform us of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed. If the Town of Fremont concludes that some of the records requested may already be publically available, we will be happy to discuss those conclusions. Please feel free to call or email us with questions.

Thank you for your time and attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Jonathon Krois
Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10011
E: jkrois@nrdc.org
T: (212) 727-2700

Bruce Ferguson
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
P.O. Box 103
Fremont Center, NY 12736
T: (845) 482-5037

40 West 20th Street P.O. Box 103
11th Floor Fremont Center, NY 12736
New York, NY 10011 (845) 468-7063
(212) 727-2700

Louise A. Proffitt, Town Clerk
Town of Sanford
91 Second Street
Deposit, NY 13754
467-3214

September 26, 2012

Dear Ms. Proffitt:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”) and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy (“CSSE”) write to request disclosure of records relating to the consideration of potential natural gas extraction within the Town of Sanford pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”), Article 6 of the Public Officers Law §§ 84–90.

I. Description of Records Sought

Please produce the following records or portions of records within the Town’s possession, control, or custody from January 1, 2008, to the present. For purposes herein, the “Town” shall include, but not be limited to, the Town Clerk, Town Board or any other official of the Town.

A. Records or communications exchanged between the Town and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (“JLCNY”) or any member thereof; or between the Town and organizations representing oil and natural gas interests; or between the Town and any businesses engaged in the extraction, processing, storage, or transportation of oil or natural gas; or between the Town and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”); or between the Town and the Office of the Governor of New York, relating to:

1. The May 8, 2012 Town Board resolution relating to natural gas drilling in the Town of Sanford;
2. The September 11, 2012 Town Board resolution prohibiting public comment on natural gas development during the public participation portion of Town Board meetings;
3. The sale or leasing of Town of Sanford land for the extraction, production, storage, or transportation of natural gas;
4. The zoning or re-zoning of Town of Sanford land for the extraction, production, storage, or transportation of natural gas;
5. Potential natural gas extraction, production, storage, or transportation within the Town of Sanford generally; and
6. The current statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York.

II. Request for Fee and Copying Flexibility

Please consult with NRDC before undertaking any action that would cause the Town to levy a fee under Public Officers Law Article 6, § 87(1)(c)(iv). Please provide NRDC with notice of the number of responsive documents before engaging in acts for which a fee would be demanded, for example, making copies. We also request that the Town make any responsive documents available, on Town premises, for inspection. Further, we also request that wherever possible, copies of all responsive records be provided in electronic format.

III. Conclusion

We look forward to your response to our request within five (5) business days of receipt, as provided by Public Officers Law § 89(3).

Subject to Section II, above, please produce the records requested by emailing or mailing them to us at the NRDC office address listed below. Please produce them on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for, or deliberations concerning, certain records delay the production of others that the Town has already retrieved and elected to produce.

If the Town declines to produce any portion of our request, please inform us of the reasons for the denial in writing and provide the name and address of the person or body to whom an appeal should be directed. If the Town concludes that some of the records requested may already be publically available, we will be happy to discuss those conclusions. Please feel free to call or email us with questions.

Thank you for your time and attention to this request.

Sincerely,

Jonathon Krois
Natural Resources Defense Council
40 West 20th Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10011
E: jkrois@nrdc.org
T: (212) 727-2700

Bruce Ferguson
Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy
P.O. Box 103
Fremont Center, NY 12736
T: (845) 482-5037