ROAD USES IN FRACKING OPERATIONS
One of the most complex issues of high volume hydrofracking is the effect of fracking operations on roads. As photographs and videos on this website demonstrate, enormous trucks filled with millions of gallons of water (and flowback or highly contaminated, often radioactive waste water) exert enormous pressures on rural roads. Towns and villages are typically unprepared to contend with the many problems, ranging from rapid deterioration of roads, accidents, spillage, and relentless noise, sometimes 24/7.
Following are examples of complex, far-reaching issues, beginning with a formal statement to the Oxford, NY Town board protesting its road use agreement and signaling that pressure from the community has only begun.
Explore the range and quality of the questions raised in this document and apply the principles to towns and villages across the entire Southern Tier of New York State.
Susan Granata, a resident of the Town of Oxford, is an active Oxford Visionary on a committee to revise Oxford’s Village-Town Comprehensive Plan.
Comprehensive Plan Committee
P. O. Box 777
Oxford NY 13830
February 13, 2013
Mr. Lawrence Wilcox
Town of Oxford Supervisor
Members of the Town Board
c/o Jim Hemstrought, Oxford Town Clerk
P. O. Box 271
Copies: MembersTown Board, Town Planning Board, Village Board, Village Planning Board
Subject: Town Road Use Agreement
Dear Mr. Wilcox,
We address you on behalf of a thousand Oxford residents who have expressed their concerns about the issues raised by the road use agreement that your Town Board passed at the last meeting. We urge the Board to reconsider this agreement at the March meeting. We ask that this discussion include the entire Oxford community in dialog with the Town Planning Board and two Oxford Village boards.
This collaboration was the clear intent of the Chenango County Planning Board in yesterday’s Letter of Clarification to Mayor Terry Stark that we hereby submit with this letter as part of the minutes of this meeting.
Here are a few questions that require answers.
1) Given the position of the Chenango County Planning Board, what was your logic in considering a road use agreement explicitly based on full-scale gas drilling industrialization before revising the Town Zoning Laws and Town and Village Comprehensive Plan?
2) Why was this agreement a) not on the agenda; b) not announced in advance to the public; c) not subject to public comment or hearing; d) not preceded by any economic, safety, health or environmental study and e) passed quickly with no substantive discussion?
3) Why was the agreement referred to the Town Planning Board but passed without the planning board’s notification much less recommendation?
4) Why was the town attorney’s legal opinion not sought on an amendment that raises profound legal questions, could cost the town astronomical sums of money, will requires extensive legal work, absolves the elected Town Board members of their legal obligations and grants wide non-administrative authority, political power and legal responsibilities to one man: the unelected Highway Superintendent?
5) Why were the many serious financial issues raised by many citizens before this board during the November 1 budget hearings totally ignored? Why was not one penny allocated for the huge legal, monitoring, enforcement, emergency, medical and administrative expenses this board assumed for our town when you passed this agreement?
6) How could any individual board member have exercised due diligence and fully considered the consequences of a vote held under these unusual circumstances?
Tonight we are providing each board member with the first of several tools to prepare for an informed reexamination of the ill-considered road use agreement. The map of the Town of Oxford shows the local roads and properties leased and non-leased for gas drilling according to the most reliable information. Superimposed on the map are rectangles that suggest likely 640 acre, mile-square spacing units for hydraulic fracturing well-pads when permits are issued by the DEC.
This will enable each of you to imagine the fate of your property under intensive industrial exploitation by financially troubled Norse Energy, Chesapeake Energy, or another transnational foreign or domestic corporation that obtains their assets in bankruptcy liquidation.
These maps will help you intelligently judge the effects of your current road use agreement on the roads that your family, your neighbors and those who serve you now depend upon every day.
Between now and the March meeting we will supply each of you with additional information through the Town Clerk’s office including applicable DEC draft regulations, photographs and reports of road use experiences in other communities where gas drilling is taking place.
Comprehensive Plan Committee