Richfield Town Supervisor Fran Enjem said he would like to enact a moratorium against heavy industry in his town, but has been unable to generate sufficient support from fellow board members. It would behoove the town, he said, to have such a moratorium in place while it works on developing a comprehensive plan.
As for whether he fears the drilling industry would seek to explore for shale gas in Richfield, Enjem said, “I don’t think we have enough shale for it.”
Ellen Pope, the director of Otsego 2000, an organization that opposes gas drilling, said she’s encouraging more communities to join those that have moved forward with bans and moratoriums.
“Having more towns approve bans is a positive development,” she said. “But we can’t rest on our laurels. For the towns that haven’t done anything, those populations are still vulnerable. We can’t rest until we have this banned on a much broader basis.”
Whether New York municipalities are even empowered to enact such bans is the subject of an ongoing legal dispute between the gas industry and drilling foes. The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, is expected to settle the question in 2014, with the ban on heavy industry enacted by Middlefield in 2011 central to that case.
Parker said his town council in Worcester is focused on issues more important and relevant to the townspeople than the gas drilling debate, such as the condition of the town barn.
“We’re a good decade away from having any drilling in New York,” said Parker. “The drilling rigs that came into Pennsylvania are heading west. Why waste your time on issues that are purely symbolic?”