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Town of Marcellus moves to draft hydrofracking moratorium legislation

Hydrofracking has not been proven entirely safe. Nor has it been proven entirely volatile. But when it comes to protecting Otisco Lake, Anita Williams isn't taking any chances.

Williams came to the Aug. 9 Marcellus town board meeting representing the Otisco Lake Preservation Association (OLPA). She hoped to convince the board to consider a moratorium on hydrofracking.

Town Supervisor Dan Ross noted the moratorium's consideration at the state level as a reason to question passing local legislation. But Williams insisted the resistance be applied at the local level.

Onondaga County recently passed legislation that banned hydrofracking on county-owned property and asked New York State to put a moratorium in place so further study of the process could be done. The county placed no ban on drilling of individual-owned property, however, as local governments in New York have no legal say on drilling and mining.

Williams said that if shown resistance, drilling companies can pull out of an area. She gave as an example Wayne County, where the Delaware River Basin Commion imposed a moratorium in order to study the impact of natural gas drilling on the watershed. The company pulled out of the area to drill elsewhere.

The board agreed to have town lawyer James Gascon draft a local law for a moratorium on hydrofracking in Marcellus. The board will hold a public hearing on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.

Of the five towns that share Otisco Lake's watershed, Onondaga and Tully have passed moratoriums. Williams, along with Mary Menapace of Skaneateles, approached Otisco requesting a moratorium but the town felt they did not have enough information to take action.

Williams and Menapace attended a Spafford Town Board meeting with the same intention. The town made no motion to draft a moratorium, but said they would take their comments under consideration.

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