Election season is fast upon us, and an important, if not the most important issue before us, is natural gas drilling and the changes it will bring to our communities. What do our candidates feel about the issue and the ability of separate towns to revise zoning to exclude drilling? With the impending finalization of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s SGEIS (permitting rules), it is of the utmost importance that towns decide what action they will take before permitting begins.
We have been debating this issue for over three years, with countless presentations and meetings. Organizations such as the New York Association of Towns have provided information to their members. There has been no lack of information.
It is not acceptable that elected officials or candidates claim they are undecided or don’t have enough information to take action.
I also find the position of candidates and board members who claim they are protecting towns from lawsuits objectionable. Such a decision does not protect local citizens from noise, air and water pollution leading to almost certain negative health impacts. Such a decision doesn’t protect us from increased traffic and reduced quality of life. It doesn’t protect industries such as tourism or agriculture currently employing citizens from being crowded out. Independent studies have shown when the extraction industry finally departs we will be left with higher unemployment, higher poverty, lower income levels and a less educated population than communities where extraction had never occurred.
Protecting towns means electing candidates who will not be afraid to take action and zone out gas drilling. Don’t let the candidates escape without telling us before we vote what actions they will or will not support.