Town of Marcellus passes hydrofracking moratorium

Following a brief public hearing Monday Sept. 13, the Marcellus Town Board passed a resolution banning hydrofracking in the town of Marcellus for six months. The board voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, which will give them the opportunity to study the issue and develop further regulations.

Marcellus resident Vincent Murphy was the first to speak. He spoke in favor of a moratorium; no one spoke in opposition.

"I'd like to see a permanent moratorium," Murphy said.

Anita Williams, president of the Otisco Lake Preservation Association, followed. The public hearing was being held in response to Williams' request for a moratorium at the August board meeting.

"I agree with this gentleman; I would love to see it totally banned," Williams said. She referenced a statement made by EPA administrator Lisa Johnson where she noted natural gas as an important part of our energy's future, adding that its extraction "must not come at the expense of safe water and our health."

"I think that's basically what we're looking at ... our health and the health of other generations," Williams said.

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Jim Rhinehart was also in attendance. He mentioned the county's action in banning hydrofracking on county property until further notice, noting that they did not impose a moratorium.

"I know there's been a lot of questions regarding moratoriums because the DEC will ultimately decide when and if they're going to issue any permits for hydrofracking in New York State," Rhinehart said. "I've been told by our director here in this region that they won't issue any permits in the Otisco Lake or Skaneateles Lake watersheds. For whatever that's worth, I know that's their intent."

Supervisor Dan Ross acknowledged that banning hydrofracking locally would be more complicated than it might sound, citing the potential for tough legal battles down the road.

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