Schneiderman Asking Questions About Local Fracking Votes

10

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office has written letters to at least three towns in the Southern Tier, inquiring about their ethics rules and how they relate to votes concerning hydrofracking.

From the Press & Sun-Bulletin’s Steve Reilly:

In single-page letters sent in October, Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin indicated that drilling-related action by town boards earlier in the year raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.

“We have been alerted to concerns about Windsor Town Board members with signed gas leases voting on issues related to hydrofracking,” one of the letters states. “This concern raises possible conflict of interest issues.”

“In that regard,” the letter adds, “would you please send us a copy of the town’s ethics code.”

Michelle Hook, a spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office, declined to disclose the number or a full list of the municipalities that are involved in the inquiry, or discuss the status of the inquiries.

Following requests under the state Freedom of Information Law to a sample of municipalities, the Press & Sun-Bulletin received correspondence between the AG’s Office and the towns of Colesville, Sanford and Windsor.

The boards of those three towns are among more than 40 across the state that passed a similarly-worded resolution stating that it would be an “irresponsible and premature misallocation of town resources” to pass a ban or moratorium on natural gas drilling until the state Department of Environmental Conservation completes its review of hydraulic fracturing.

At least one member of the each of the Colesville, Sanford and Windsor town boards has an active natural gas lease a review of records in the Broome County Clerk’s Office shows.

In June, a plan was floated that would allow high-volume hydrofracking only in towns that have passed resolutions in support of shale-gas drilling. It led some to question whether it would pose a conflict for land-owning board members who vote on various fracking-related issues.

Via the Press & Sun, here are the three letters the paper obtained:

Cb 1980191211

Share.

About Author

10 Comments

  1. Some of these instances are not only conflicts of interests, but there have been cases where those wanting bans or moratoriums were silenced or prevented from presenting their case. I applaud the AG’s action.

  2. How does power make people forget the meaning of “conflict of interest?” Thanks to Schneiderman for questioning the ethics of accepting industry money and ruling on fracking.

    Total transparency is absolutely necessary. Fracking will affect clean drinking and farming water, the greenhouse gas methane and radioactive radon levels in the air and the value and beauty of the land, both private and public. These matters are far too serious to let the gas industry run roughshod over them without complete information to the public and acceptance of all public comments beforehand.

  3. Rebecca Casstevens on

    schneiderman is nipping at cuomo’s heels, or i should say he has been way out ahead of cuomo, on fracking in our state! since a leaked copy of the SGEIS experts’ contract confirms the governor’s ironclad nondisclosure requirement, which prevents them from saying anything, anywhere, anytime, we see cuomo’s true colors — black out all public access to deliberations about OUR HEALTH. meanwhile our upright AG is taking charge. SCHNEIDERMAN FOR GOVERNOR.

  4. Bravo Schneiderman!

    Our much vaunted democracy is being destroyed by this kind of behavior. I imagine these town board members are heard holding forth on the evils of “big government” even as they trample on the rights of their neighbors and pursue their own agendas.

    I guess the health of future generations means little or nothing compared to a royalty check.

  5. Fracking means Jobs and Jobs means more revenue for all levels of Government.

    Fracking is Happiness and happy people working.

    Why do all those who oppose Fracking want people to be unhappy and unemployed ?

    As for “Ethics” made the AG needs to look into the mirror and see if he is acting in an “ETHICAL” way or playing politics ?

    Before there was the “Oracle of Delphi” there was Count Vampire J. Machiavelli

    VJ Machiavelli
    http://www.VJMachiavelli.blogspot.com
    Power to the People who “VOTE”

  6. Great job Press & Sun-Bulletin and those in the AG offices — shine that light! Transparency is sorely needed when it comes to this industry and how it is working every possible angle to crack New York. They well know that municipalities are the first lines of resistance. Hopefully, they will have a tougher time here intimidating or putting dollar signs in people’s heads. Our state has the “luxury” (if you can call it that) of seeing the results of this industry in other states, and many have come to realize that you can’t drink and breathe money.

  7. Bravo for Schneiderman and the AG’s office! Can these town board members not understand the meaning of “conflict of interest!?” Those members who have signed leases for fracking need to recuse themselves from ANY vote or even from any informational meetings on fracking!! They see dollar signs instead of health and environmental issues, which will, by the way, COST their municipalities way more than they would make if fracking is permitted!

  8. How does a resolution stating that it would be ““irresponsible and premature misallocation of town resources” to pass a ban or moratorium on natural gas drilling until the state Department of Environmental Conservation completes its review of hydraulic fracturing” constitute a conflict of interest?

    Should persons fearing negative financial impacts from gas development be similarly recused from government?

    Is Schneiderman undermining regulation that will be created by the DEC?
    Isn’t Schneiderman responsible for enforcing and interpreting DEC regulation?

    Shouldn’t Schneiderman recuse himself from fracking related issues since he has extensive fundraising ties to anti-gas development stars like Mark Ruffalo?

  9. It is not surprising that residents of these towns asked the attorney general to look into conflicts of interest in their town boards. Several years ago, when the Broome County legislature was considering leasing county-owned land for drilling, any legislator who had a lease or who was active in the JLCNY had to recuse themselves not only from voting on the legislation but even from participating in the discussion about it.

    “In June, a plan was floated that would allow high-volume hydrofracking only in towns that have passed resolutions in support of shale-gas drilling.” As I recall, the rumored plan was much more vague, using terms like “towns that wanted it (HVHF)”. There was no specificity about what how one would know that a town “wanted” it, whether that meant a majority of its residents or some other measure. Also, the resolutions that were passed were characterized at the time as being neutral in stance, but now are being portrayed by some of the town supervisors and the press as being pro-drilling. The wiser course would have been for the town boards not to have passed any resolutions on the topic.