Given the conflicting signals that have been coming out of Albany on whether hydrofracking will be permitted in New York, Andes town Supervisor Martin A. Donnelly said Friday the wisest course of action for his town to take was to ban heavy industry, including gas drilling.
The town’s bold move against hydraulic fracturing for shale gas is remarkable in light of the fact that the state’s draft regulations that would govern horizontal drilling prohibit the activity in New York City watershed communities such as Andes.
Donnelly said with all the mixed signals sent by state government on the issue, he is going to be skeptical of any drilling pronouncement he hears from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“We don’t want to get caught short on this because, unfortunately, our political leaders speak out of both sides of their mouths,” said Donnelly, a Republican.
The current prohibition against drilling in the watershed could always change, he reasoned.
“Money talks,” he said.
He said he was not aware of drillers eying any specific properties in Andes, a town with a population of about 1,300 people.
The vote to ban drilling, taken last week, was unanimous, with one member of the town board absent, the town supervisor said.
“It may very well be that one day this could be done safely,” Donnelly said of fracking. “But right now we don’t want to jeopardize anyone in our town. If our water becomes contaminated, once that contamination is in there, you can’t get it out.”
The ban was promoted by Andes Works!, a grassroots citizens group formed in December 2011.