News Details - Legislature Opposes Natural Gas Drilling on State Forest Lands
The Legislature voiced official opposition to gas drilling on State forest lands, but delayed action on a similar measure that would prohibit any County-owned land from being leased for natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing. Commenting on the State Department of Environmental Conservation draft Strategic Plan for State Forest Management, the Legislature urged the agency to modify the plan to prohibit drilling altogether on the State’s 780,000 acres of forest land. The resolution predicts hydraulic-fracturing would fragment forest lands, be incompatible with purposes and values for such land, damage roads and other infrastructure, and threaten water resources and habitat.
Although the vote was unanimous (with Legislators Nathan Shinagawa and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne excused), it followed close to an hour of debate focused on wording related to whether science shows that greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas extracted using hydraulic fracturing is equal to or greater than that from coal. Legislator Peter Stein said that, although he opposes such drilling, he could not support the resolution with that wording included, and a number of procedural moves followed that ended up eliminating that language from the resolution, as well as language that referred to the plan’s claim that emissions from natural gas are lower than from other fossil fuels.
The emissions issue was also involved in the decision to delay consideration of measure pledging that Tompkins County would not lease any county-owned lands for gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing. Legislators, by an 8-4 vote, decided to send the proposal back to committee for further review.