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Delaware residents argue against home rule

April 28, 2011

Noel van Swol, a tireless leader in supporting gas drilling in New York State, gathered with a phalanx of local supporters to oppose proposed legislation that could give towns certain limited powers over gas drilling.

Van Swol is the leader of the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owner’s Association, a pro-drilling group representing landowners owning 70,000+ acres who are interested in entering into an environmentally responsible and financially beneficial leasing arrangement for natural gas extraction.

The agenda of the town meeting focused on proposed legislation in the senate and the assembly that gives some limited control through zoning over aspects of gas drilling, such as where drilling could or could not be done. The senate bill is co-sponsored by Senator John Bonacic and the assembly bill is co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

Gunther said that the legislation passed the Environmental Conservation Committee during the last session and was expected to pass in this one. “It would probably move to the local government committee before it goes to the floor,” she said.
Senator Susan Oppenhiemer, a Democrat who is the sponsor of the legislation, no longer has the power to move the legislation since Democrats are not in the majority.

“I think this legislation is an excellent idea,” Bonacic said. “I have always believed in local control. People in their own community with their local board should control their own destiny. I believe in home rule.”

“This legislation is a Trojan horse,” van Swol said. “It is a hidden attempt to stop gas drilling in New York and in our town. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has total control over gas drilling in the state. This legislation, if adopted, could cause a situation across the state where you would have a hodgepodge of laws. It would amount to total anarchy. I would advise that the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners Association would oppose this legislation. You should at
the very least table this until you have time to study it.”

“I depend on the state agency to say ‘You can’t put that rig next to this church,’” said council member Harold Roeder, who represents the town on the Upper Delaware Council. “But when you get down to the local level of this, you now have problems. I can see where it’s heading. Those who want drilling should have the right to have it. A lot people here are against drilling.”

If these should pass, the town would have a raft of legal suits against it by citizens who wanted drilling on their land and were prohibited from doing so. Court costs would be very expensive, he said.

The definition of Irony...

... is that MR. Van Swoel and friends fight against home rule when it comes to the ability of local government to regulate on a local level, while simultaneously arguing that property owners should have free reign to do as they please within their own fiefdom.

Not Wondering

Maybe we could reach a compromise here. If there were some language within the bill that stated landowners affected by drilling bans must be compensated by the town issueing the ban in the form of compensation for lost revenues or at least reduced taxes on land which is reduced in value as a consequence of such a ban, this bill would be more palatable. If you wish to impose a form of eminent domain, you must provide for just compensation. I would say I was just wondering, but that would be a lie.


IT makes no sense at all to argue for total control by a State agency over local activities that deeply involve people's lives and health unless it is also taken into consideration that the right of people to clean water, clean air, and clean fertile soil is also the mandate of that agency--------because the conclusion then is that if the proposed activity negatively affects the water, air, soil NO ONE has that right to cause harm.

If the DEP would do its mission to "protect the environment," they would already have ordered and begun a complete Environmental Impact Study before the issuance of any drilling permits, and they have not done or begun such a study.
Therefore the DEP is failing to do its mandate as an agency.

IF the DEP is NOT doing its primal mission to protect the environment (which includes the citizenry), and it isn't, then the necessary power of protection immediately transfers to the people affected, and those citizens have EVERY right to say "no" to an activity of questionable risk.

Profit for some is not in the equation----------health has primacy. The right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness implicitly implies health, and health implicitly implies a clean environment.

This is a no brainer.

Blind Ambition

Harold Roeder's comment is a good example of why he should not represent the people of the town of Delaware in any official capacity.

He is quoted thusly: "Those who want drilling should have the right to have it. A lot people here are against drilling.”

So, those residents of the Town of Delaware who want drilling should be given what they want, but the "lot (of) people" who are against drilling should not?

He should be removed from his official duties.