The leadership of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York — a group of regional landowner coalitions from across the state — was in Albany today, issuing a “declaration of rights” they said is aimed at getting their point of view amplified among lawmakers, state officials and the media.
The six-point declaration was developed by the landowners group, which is based in Binghamton and has long pushed for natural gas drilling and hydrofracking to move forward in New York.
The document, according to the group, is meant to “reclaim ownership of our property and make our voice heard as New York finalizes a plan for allowing shale development that protects our environment and benefits our communities.”
“If you own land you can farm it, you can mine it for gravel, you can harvest the timber, you can build on it consistent with local codes,” said Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition. “Today, however, there is a movement to deny people the right to develop their land. People with extreme political agendas want to tell us what we can and cannot do with our land.”
Fitzsimmons was joined by members of the landowners group, including Broome County legislator Stephen Herz, as well as Sens. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, and Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats, Chemung County.
John Armstrong, spokesman for anti-hydrofracking group Frack Action, disagreed with the landowners’ premise.
“We hear from them that they seem to be convinced this is safe,” Armstrong said. “But we’ve seen a decisive number and a growing body of evidence of doctors and experts and scientists in the broad medical and professional communities that this can’t be done safely.”
Meanwhile, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is continuing its review of high-volume hydrofracking, which was launched in July. Permits for the technique can’t be issued until that review is complete.
Here’s video of Fitzsimmons discussing the declaration, which can be read after the jump.