My Stand on Fracking

Bob Lynch in his own words:

Much has been spoken and written of late by others who’ve sought to mis-characterize my prior cautious, nuanced position on a fracking ban in the Town of Enfield. So let’s deal with the facts, not rumors or lies:

My current position: As I have stated, I oppose fracking in all its forms.  Our ground water is too precious.  It’s the only water we have to drink.  We must protect it. 

Moreover, I believe Enfield’s 2013 fracking ban is Settled Law To my knowledge, unlike many federal statutes, the Enfield law will not sunset.  We need not—we should not—revisit, revise, or repeal our ban on fracking!  It’s a non-issue in this campaign.  Let the law stand.  Now let’s move forward.

Though the statement should settle the matter for once and for all, my critics persist. They raise my cautionary warnings from as long as eight years ago. And they probably were startled when I chose to defend them. Today, I stand by those statements… given the time and the circumstances as then existed. In 2011 and 2012, municipal fracking bans were new and largely untested in the courts. A go-it-alone fracking ban carried risk. We, the Town of Enfield, could have lost everything; both the lawsuit and a ton of money. Legal bills could have bankrupted our Town. I felt it wise that New York State should take the lead. Albany eventually did. We benefited from the best of both worlds: We prevented fracking within our Town, and we avoided the cost of protracted litigation.

But Enfield’s fracking ban stands today as a second line of defense… just in case! Leave the law in place. It does no harm, and probably a lot of good.

Still don’t believe me? Then read the transcript of my testimony at two Enfield Public Hearings:

First, at a Public Information Meeting of the Enfield Town Board, November 30, 2011:

“My name is Robert Lynch.  I live at 175 Gray Road.  I have lived at that residence since 1969.  I am also the employee of a small Enfield business and have been at that job for 24 years now.

“I love this town.  I appreciate the comments of my neighbors, who are, judging by the comments tonight, almost unanimous in favor of a ban or a moratorium on hydrofracking.  I take a somewhat different position on it.  I am not supportive of hydrofracking; but on the other hand, I’m not ready to say I’m necessarily opposed to it.  I keep an open mind.  I stay neutral.  And I urge the Enfield Town Board to do as well.

“I think… I don’t want this town to be going down the same path as Dryden has gone down.  All it’s brought them is a long, protracted, and probably expensive lawsuit.  Enfield is a small town with a limited tax base.  I think it is better that the Town let the State of New York regulate hydrofracking, hopefully, regulate it effectively.  And then, once we find out what the State is going to do, then if the Enfield Town Board decides something needs to be done, action can be taken.

“I have no personal gain to be made by having hydrofracking in Enfield.  My lot is a wooded lot of only about three acres.  Like Dr. [Carolyn] McMaster [who spoke immediately before me], I am concerned about the water quality.  I know the water is some of the best that I have ever tasted.  And I am concerned about that.  But I hope that with intelligent regulation by the State, we can move ahead and avoid a large, expensive lawsuit that ties up the Town and its resources for many, many years.

“I know that the comments tonight… Judging from the comments tonight, there is the disproportionate opposition to hydrofracturing.  And I respect that, and I respect my neighbors’ opinions.  However, I also urge the Town Board to listen to the property owners in the Town of Enfield who may have limited opportunities to use their land, and to take everybody’s concern into consideration.  I know you’ll make an intelligent choice.  Thank you.”

Some four months later, I spoke again, this time at the Public Hearing on a Fracking Moratorium/Ban in Enfield, March 28, 2012:

“Good evening.  My name is Robert Lynch.  I reside at 175 Gray Road.  I was at the Public Hearing in November, and at that time I said that I’m not in favor of fracking; I’m not necessarily opposed to fracking.  What I do worry about is the Town of Enfield getting itself into a protracted legal battle that might be very costly to the Town taxpayers.

“My late father said, ‘Before you make a decision, think it through 23 times.’  And I urge the Town Board to do that tonight with the moratorium.  I think it might be wise for the Town to delay action on a moratorium or an outright ban until New York State promulgates its regulations as to how fracking is to be policed.

“I have confidence that the Department of Environmental Conservation will do a thorough job of protecting the environment of the Town of Enfield and elsewhere in New York State.  They’re pretty rigorous.  Just ask anybody who wants to have a burning barrel.  I think that the Town should defer action until the State makes some policy decisions that then we can really understand, study, and act on.

“I’m sympathetic with the concerns of the neighbors.  But I haven’t seen any fracking rigs descending on Enfield right away.  I don’t think they will until the State makes some decisions.  And I think it would be wise for the Town of Enfield to withhold action on the moratorium until further regulations from Albany are promulgated.  Thank you.”

Would I take the same position today? No, and not just for political expediency. The times have changed. New York State is engaged. The legal threat has abated. And yes, I, too, have learned more about the dangers of this risky procedure. Each of us who chooses to think grows with time.

There, Bob Lynch in his own words. Case closed.

No Fake News.