Chautauqua Resident Cites Court Ruling In Fracking Opposition

MAYVILLE – Speaking Tuesday before the Mayville village board, Audrey Dowling of the town of Chautauqua stated her reasons for opposing hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas drilling methods. She had delivered a similar message to the town of Chautauqua board Monday evening.

Both times Dowling directed attention to a ruling May 2 by the New York Apellate Division upholding two lower court decisions that local laws may be used to ban certain drilling techniques. Drillers went to court to argue that the state’s Oil and Gas Solution Mining Law contained language preempting drilling restrictions by local governments. They were unsuccessful in two different cases brought before New York Supreme Court.

Attorney Eileen Millett in the July issue of Westlaw Journal Environmental, wrote that it is “unlikely” the Court of Appeals will overturn the May decision. A local case, Frew Run Gravel Products v. Town of Carroll decided in 1987 was included in Millett’s analysis. That case centered on whether Carroll’s local law could supercede provisions of the Mined Land Reclamation Law, and the court ruled in favor of Carroll.

Dowling also referenced the opinions of Cornell University professor Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, an outspoken critic of fracking.

One result is Mayor Marty Bova agreed to view a video recording of Ingraffea outlining what he holds to be major environmental harm caused by fracking and the chemicals used to make so-called “slick water” employed in the procedure. “I’d like to see it,” Bova said.

Dowling said she would make the video available to town and village officials, but no date was set for the viewing.

County Legislator Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, at Monday’s town session told Dowling a special meeting to discuss fracking and related environmental concerns is scheduled for Sept. 18.

Croscut said, “I’m not here to take sides,” but added that many farmers and other land owners are eager to sign leases if fracking is approved.