Otisco passes six-month moratorium on hydrofracking

The Otisco Town Board passed a local six-monthmoratorium on hydraulic fracturing at its Dec. 13 meeting, making Otisco the fourth out of five towns on the Lake Otisco Watershed to do so.

The Otisco Lake Preservation Association approached all five towns requesting moratoriums. Otisco, Marcellus, Tully and Onondaga town boards passed resolutions, while Spafford did not.

The town of Otisco moratorium was passed on the heels of Governor David Paterson's executive order to prohibit horizontal hydraulic fracturing until July 1, 2011.

"The governor had passed one earlier in the day, so this was more or less symbolic," Otisco Town Supervisor Wayne Amato told the Observer.

The town board is not staunchly opposed to the drilling procedure - rather, it wants make sure any local drilling does not hurt the pristine, rural nature of the town, Amato said.

Amato noted a consensus among residents for Otisco not to become highly developed.

"It's with caution that we proceed on any of these endeavors," he said.

Some town governments have expressed interest in researching ways to prevent drilling locally, such as regulating the roads or taxing the gas. Amato sees this as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

"A lot of what happens may be made irrelevant by what [the DEC and EPA's] actions are," he said, adding that taxpayers' money is "too valuable to waste on suppositions."

Don Siegel, a Syracuse University professor and veteran hydrogeologist who spoke to guests before the moratorium was passed, said if drilling did take place, it would only affect the area for about a year.

Gas and oil companies have secured about 170 leases on privately own land in Otisco. Still, Siegel doesn't expect hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as hydrofracking, to come to the town anytime soon, considering that the Marcellus Shale gas quality here is not as good as in places closer to the Pennsylvania border.

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