postheadericon Lansing Passes Drilling Moratorium

townhall_120The Lansing Town Board unanimously passed a resolution for a one year moratorium on gas drilling into law Wednesday.  The new law establishes a 'Moratorium and Prohibition within the Town of Lansing of High-Impact Industrial Uses, Including Natural Gas and Petroleum Exploration and Extraction Activities, the Underground Storage of Natural Gas, and the Disposal of Natural Gas or Petroleum Extraction, Exploration, and Production Wastes.'  Resident who came so see the law passed erupted in cheers and applause after the vote.

The 25 page law is designed to keep hydrofracking at bay for at least a year in Lansing while permanent solutions are put in place to protect the Town from potential adverse outcomes.  At the beginning of May, 19 Lansing residents spoke in favor of a moratorium at a public hearing held to consider the law.  Many said they support an outright ban.

The board also passed a resolution encouraging the New York State Senate to pass a bill that would require all hazardous waste produced from oil and natural gas activities to be subject to the requirements for the treatment of hazardous wastes.

"They're not currently treated that way," explained Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins.  "They're exempted by New York State.  This bill has already passed the Assembly.  We are urging the State Senate to pass it before they close in June."

The bill has been introduced by Queens New York State Senator Tony Avella.  It states, "Currently, the regulations promulgated by the Department of Environmental Conservation that govern the waste produced by the oil and natural gas industries exempt 'drilling fluids, produced waters, and other wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy' from being regulated as hazardous waste. This exemption is in place despite the fact that the waste resulting from the exploration, development, extraction and production of crude oil and natural gas may be hazardous in many instances."

While town officials do not believe they can complete all the work needed within a year, Town Attorney Guy Krogh has advised the board that a one year moratorium is most likely to be defensible in court, and that if a good faith effort is made to complete the work in that time the moratorium could be extended.  The town will update Lansing's comprehensive plan and land use ordinance, and inventory and study aquifers and natural areas, and roads.

The board is considering hiring Planner Jonathan Kantor to guide them through the process of updating planning to protect the town.  Kantor is a former Town Of Ithaca Director of Planning, and currently serves on the Village Of Lansing Planning Board.  Town Supervisor Kathy Miller asked the board's permission Wednesday to talk to Kantor about the cost and scope of work he might do.

"Now that we have passed the moratorium we're going to have to look at the comprehensive plan and the land use ordinance," said Miller.

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