By Frank Rizzo
FREMONT CENTER The Town of Fremont passed a resolution in favor of gas drilling at Wednesday night’s town board meeting.
Supervisor George Conklin and councilmembers Paul Kellam, John Hubert, John Niflot and Paul Brustman all voted “aye” in unanimously passing the resolution introduced early in the meeting by Kellam.
The resolution noted that the town contains “enormous natural gas bearing reserves of Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale.… is bisected by the Millennium Pipeline which will substantially reduce the cost of transporting and selling natural gas produced within the town thus making us competitive with gas produced in nearby Bradford and Susquehanna Counties in Pennsylvania.”
It went to add that “a substantial number of oil and gas exploration and production companies have already expressed an interest in exploring for and developing natural gas deposits in the [town].… [and] the development of Fremont’s natural gas reserves will be a positive shot in the arm for our depressed local economy resulting in increased employment, higher local tax revenues and millions of dollars in bonus money and royalties for our beleaguered farmers and landowners.”
It concluded, “Be it resolved that we affirm that property owners in the Town of Fremont have the right to develop their oil, gas and mineral rights in accordance with the laws of the State of New York and the United States of America and that the Town Board of the Town of Fremont fully supports safe and responsible gas drilling.”
“I’m proud of our town board,” said Noel van Swol, president of the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners Association.
Fremont joined neighboring Town of Delaware in being the only township to explicitly approve drilling. The night before, the Town of Highland had joined Bethel, Lumberland Tusten in banning it. Fremont’s Delaware County neighbor, Hancock township, had approved gas drilling on July 10.
A standing room crowd packed the town hall, and speakers had their chance to comment on the resolution after the vote was taken.
Bill Klaber of Fremont Center was one of those who disapproved of the board’s vote.
“The resolution passed in Fremont pretended to speak for the town, but if this were truly so, why was no notice of this resolution given so that people could come and voice their opinion (although the authors of the resolution and their friends knew all about it)?” Klaber said in a statement. “Why was no one at the meeting allowed to see a copy of this resolution? And why was no one allowed to say a thing about it until AFTER the vote had been taken? Why was any of that necessary?
He added, “Property rights don’t just belong to those who favor hydraulic fracturing. Other people have them too like the right not to have their water or air poisoned by the activities of others. The board’s actions were sneaky and disrespectful. The people of the town deserve better.”