Yates wants watershed protection
PENN YAN—The Yates County Legislature and the Marcellus Shale Task Force are calling for equal protection of the county’s watersheds by the state when it comes to hydraulic fracturing.
The legislature approved the task force’s recommendations, Monday, Nov. 14, in response to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft drilling rules.
“The committee recommended in essence to have
the state treat the county’s watershed the same as New York City and Skaneateles Lake,” said Yates County Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Peter Landre.
In the current draft impact statement, the state proposes not allowing Marcellus Shale drilling within 4,000 feet of the New York City and Skaneateles Lake watersheds. Landre said the task force wants the state to give the same protection to the Yates County watersheds. He added the task force’s first recommendations from 2010 called for a 2,000 foot no fracking zone around the lakes.
The committee also suggested other ways to minimize the negative impacts on water quality, agricultural lands, municipal infrastructure and tourism that could be associated with drilling for Marcellus Shale.
• Stormwater pollution prevention plan review, compliance and enforcement. There are some guidelines already in place. The committee wants local inspectors who understand local resources and best management practices. They would like to have third party inspectors as part of the permitting process.
• Protection of agricultural lands and coordination with New York State Department of Ag and Markets. Methods are available to guide, protect and remediate soils from heavy industrial activity. The committee wants the DEC to coordinate this with NYS Ag and Markets.
• Quality of life and agritourism concerns including host community agreements. Examples of reducing impacts would include emergency training, scenic area protection, truck routing and water withdrawal. Specific regulations for noise mitigation should be required.
• Community health and safety. Requests a training program in conjunction with state fire prevention and control. This would be for local emergency responders. It would include training on the various types of chemicals used in the drilling process.
• Road use agreements. Several Yates County municipalities are considering road use agreements. Pre-construction road condition would be included.
The DEC is responsible for regulating the development and production of oil and gas resources in New York State.
Following passage of the resolution, Legislature Chairman Taylor Fitch commended County Planner Shawna Bonshak and Landre for their excellent work on the project.
In other business: Adopted a local law to override the tax levy limit established by New York state. Fitch said he has read about more and more counties voting to override the tax cap. Fitch said he thinks the tax cap was a politically motivated decision without mandate relief. Fitch said, “Here we are nearly one year later with no mandate relief and none in sight.”
• Approved a resolution in support of legislation proposed by Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning). The legislation would require one environmental review for road and bridge replacement projects. This would eliminate requirements for doing both federal and state reviews. Legislator Dan Banach said Reed feels the reviews should be put in the hands of the state only.
• Legislators scheduled a public hearing on a proposed local law to establish redemption fees for impounded dogs. The public safety committee recommended a flat $25 redemption fee for each and every impoundment. Current fees do not meet budgetary costs. The hearing will be in legislative chambers at 1:10 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12.
• Yates County Chamber of Commerce was designated the county’s Tourism Promotion Agency.
• Public holidays were declared. The day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 25, the offices of the County Clerk, County Treasurer, Clerk of the Legislature and Sheriff’s Civil Office will be closed to the public. Thanksgiving is Nov. 24. When Christmas and New Years fall on a Sunday, the same offices will be closed the Monday following the holiday. The offices will be closed on Dec. 26 and Jan. 2, 2012.
The next regular meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12. The meeting will be held in legislative chambers at the county office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.