Although we do not yet have the full report from the DEC on drilling in New York State, we now know a few things about where they are headed. For one thing, they have committed to stay out of zoning and land use disputes between local towns and the drilling companies. This is a step forward. The DEC announced last week that “in cases where an applicant indicates that all or part of their proposed project is inconsistent with local land use laws, regulations, plans or policies, or where the potentially impacted local government advises the department that it believes the application is inconsistent with such laws, regulations, plans or policies, the department will, at the time of permit application, request additional information so that it can consider whether significant adverse environmental impacts will result from the proposed project that have not been addressed in the SGEIS and whether additional mitigation or other action should be taken in light of such significant adverse impacts.”
The governor has also signaled that he supports local zoning in this matter. If you’ll pardon the expression, this is a watershed moment for towns, who are being told that, though drilling will ultimately be permitted, they can and must step up to the plate to protect themselves.
For this reason, it seems prudent for those towns that are awaiting the report of the Multi-Municipal Task Force that is developing a road preservation law to ask for a delay until the task force has a chance to include and incorporate the state’s regulatory structure in its recommendations.