- Times wins two awards from Society for Professional Journalists
- Marionville mayor ‘kind of agreed’ with Kansas City shooter’s views
- Rev. Al Sharpton’s Easter message: Politically ‘crucified’ Obama has risen again
- Supreme Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies
- UNICEF launches ‘Mr. Poo’ mascot in India to curb public defecation
- Teen taking selfie by train: ‘Wow, that guy just kicked me in the head’
- Goodbye, Afghanistan — hello, Africa: Air Force to shift as U.S. exits Middle East
- Iran mulls ban on vasectomies, decrease on abortions to bolster population
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers ‘more deadly than jihadists’
- Classes resume at high school rocked by stabbings
N.Y. town sued for banning any talk of ‘fracking’
The First Amendment has been dragged into New York’s intense debate over fracking.
The small town of Sanford, N.Y., was sued Tuesday by two leading environmental groups following a resolution passed by city officials last year that prohibited residents from talking about fracking at town council meetings.
That rule and its free speech implications prompted the lawsuit from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, which argue that town leaders want to see fracking in upstate New York and are attempting to muzzle those who disagree.
Both groups have been outspoken in their opposition to fracking, the controversial oil and natural gas extraction method that has been used successfully in neighboring Pennsylvania and other states.
“If people are silenced by their own elected representatives, how can they trust them to act in their best interests?” said Kate Sinding, an attorney with the NRDC. “The Sanford Town Board has taken away residents’ right to speak up on one of the most controversial and daunting issues facing them today in the very forum designed to give them that opportunity. This is particularly troubling given the board’s history of unwavering support for fracking.”
Herbert Kline, an attorney representing Sanford, didn’t comment specifically on the lawsuit but said town board meetings had turned into forums for the fracking debate before the resolution was passed in September 2012.
“People who were against fracking had, in the minds of the town board, monopolized discussion in the public participation portion of prior meetings to the extent that very little other business could be accomplished,” he told The Associated Press.
Sanford, a town of 2,400 in Broome County, isn’t far from the Pennsylvania border and sits atop the Marcellus Shale, one of the largest known natural-gas deposits in the world. The area likely would be first in line for fracking if the process gets the green light.
But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to put off a decision on whether to allow it.
Joseph Martens, Mr. Cuomo’s commissioner of environmental conservation, issued a statement Tuesday announcing that his agency will conduct additional research into the potential health effects of fracking, further delaying the release of regulations that would govern the practice if it is eventually approved.
It’s the latest in a series of delays as pressure from both sides of the debate mounts on the Cuomo administration.
Recent polls have shown support for fracking throughout upstate New York, which, by Mr. Cuomo’s own admission, continues to struggle economically and needs a boost of the sort fracking almost surely would provide.
Environmental groups and other critics, however, have launched an unprecedented public relations campaign to keep fracking out of New York. They have been joined by the celebrity-laden organization “Artists Against Fracking,” founded by Yoko Ono.
The group has organized numerous protests throughout the state, and earlier this year hand-delivered to Mr. Cuomo’s office thousands of written comments from New Yorkers opposed to fracking.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obama unveils new $600 billion jobs initiative
- Biden to lead $600 million work force training effort
- Separation of church and Obama: Religious ties may run deep, but president's attendance has not
- Obamas paid $98K in taxes in 2013, White House says
- Obama calls principal of Pa. high school devastated by stabbings
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Air Force sees resource shift as U.S. exits Afghanistan, heads to Africa
- FISHER: Shades of Berlin in the South China Sea
- GOP writes legislation to deny Attorney General Eric Holder his salary
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
- CNN op-ed claims right-wingers 'more deadly than jihadists'
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.