February 12, 2012

Request to Riga for a Moratorium

On Feb 8 I presented the following request to the town board meeting in the town of Riga.  The discussion has begun and I am thankful!  Sometimes, we who live outside of the immediate regions of land leases for drilling might think that our towns would not be "involved in" the issue known as fracking.  No so!  I believe the line goes something like:  "... oh if we could but perceive the web we weave..."

Here is the text of my 3 minute statement to our board:

I request that the Town of Riga begin a process of review of our local zoning and land use laws for the health and protection of it's citizens with specific regards to the potential growth of high volume hydraulic fracturing - fracking - in our town.  In order to accomplish such a massive task, I request that we impose a 1 yr moratorium on any fracking related development in Riga.
1.  Riga is home to a large and growing landfill. 
·     Are our town requirements strong enough to deal with drilling related wastes that could be brought here?   Are we protected against increases in methane gas release?  Possible radiation exposures?  
·     The fracking industry will be producing huge volumes of toxic waste water.  Once it is "recycled or treated" there will still remain a large volume of concentrated toxic waste to be stored indefinitely. 
2.  Riga has an abundance of agricultural and open lands. 
·     How can we prevent those regions from becoming sites for inversion well toxic storage sites?  Any future consideration of the drilling new storage wells or using old existing wells should be addressed.  Cement casing are not adequate to provide 100s of years of safety to our environment from toxic waste storage.  I do not want Riga's open space to become a potential store house of toxic materials. 
3.  Highway use: 
·     If fracking were to industrialize in NY, literally 1000s of trucks will be running the highways 24/7.   Do we have strong requirements to direct responsibility and funding for highway repair? 
·     If there were any accidents resulting in toxic spills, do we have responder capability to handle it to protect our citizens?  
·     NYSDEC has proposals that include spreading our highways with treated waste.  We need to guarantee our environment is not poisoned by such a practice. 
4.  The development of gas supply lines and transfer stations could become an issue in the rural lands of Riga.  Are landowners protected?
5.  Riga is home to designated wetlands and rivers such as Black Creek.    Fresh water becomes a free for all with fracking.
·    What in our town regulations protects from the depletion of fresh water of our region?    Can we establish guidelines to limit the industrial use of fresh water from our streams and rivers?
6.  We are on top of the larger Utica shale and future drilling has been eyed there.
7.  NY State has legislative bills to clarify local control over oil and gas development.  It is imperative we review our plans to assure protection from such a highly destructive and industrialized economy based on fracking.
We must begin the review as soon as possible so that "grandfather clauses" will not become the reason for potential destruction of our region.  I urge you to draft and pass a simple moratorium banning high volume hydraulic fracking activity within the Town of Riga for 1 year so we can review our zoning and land use laws to protect its citizens from this new and toxic industry.

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