Mission: Protect the Town from High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Gas Drilling
1. Ban gas drilling in the Town of Vestal to protect the town’s residents health, safety, water, air, property and finances.
2. Work to ensure the town is fully prepared for gas drilling if it does come to the town or to nearby towns.
3. Support the efforts to ban gas drilling at the state level until proven safe and accepted by the majority of residents in the proposed affected areas.
Vestal Residents For Save Energy (VeRSE) is a volunteer group working to protect the health and safely of the town residents, the quality of life in the town and the economic interests of the majority of the town’s residents through a moratorium on gas drilling in the town.
What is High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Gas Drilling?
High-volume hydraulic fracturing as used for natural gas extraction, is the process by which water, mixed with proppants and chemicals, is forced down a well bore at extremely high pressure in order to create or expand fractures to release gas from the rock formation in which it is trapped. Proppants are small particles such as sand or synthetic beads, that hold open the newly-created fractures so that released gas can flow towards the well. The process as currently practiced involves use of millions of gallons of fresh water and thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals per well.
The process is also known as industrial gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing, hydrofracking, fracking, slick water fracking, or any of several other variants. When the term high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) or other variants are used on this website we are typically referring to the entire process associated with shale gas extraction and distribution. We are not just referring to the actual fracking process in which explosives, followed by a mixture of pressured water and chemicals are used to break up the shale and free the gas.
Click here to download a 2-page PDF document featuring a pair of diagrams that outline the basics of high volume hydraulic fracturing.
- Canvass the town residents to determine the degree of support for a moratorium on HVHF gas drilling in the Town of Vestal. Record support via the VeRSE petition.
- Provide access to information for the town’s residents and Town Board members on the impacts and risks associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing gas drilling.
- Raise concerns regarding high-volume hydraulic fracturing gas drilling with the Town Board members. Propose a ban or moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Town of Vestal.
- Make the case to the Town Board members that the largest proportion of the town’s population is behind them in imposing a ban or moratorium on industrial gas drilling.
Validity of a Ban
- In February 2012 the New York State Supreme Court issued decisions that upheld bans on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the town of Dryden, in the case Anschutz Exploration Corporation v. Town of Dryden and the town of Middlefield, in the case Cooperstown Holstein v. Town of Middlefield.
- Attorneys Ronald Steinvurzel and Jessica Buno analyzed both decisions above in the May 2012 New York State Law Journal in the article titled, Municipalities and Natural Gas Extraction…What the Frack? The authors conclude, “Absent a clear expression of legislative intent to preempt local control over land use and zoning, it appears that the war on hydro-fracking will be decided one municipality at a time.”
- As of June 19, 2012 a motion to renew on behalf of Cooperstown Holstein in the Middlefield case was denied by the court, supporting a town’s right to ban hydraulic fracturing. See Supreme Court Justice Cerio’s decision.
- On May 2, 2013, a four-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the lower court decisions in favor of the towns of Dryden and Middlefield. This marks the first affirmation of local bans on gas drilling by New York State courts at the appellate level. The Dryden case has become known as Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden, as Norse Energy acquired Anschutz’s interests in Dryden and was substituted in the proceeding. Lawyers for the oil and gas interests have indicated their intentions to file appeals in both cases, which will take them to the highest state court, the New York State Court of Appeals.