GUILDERLAND The Guilderland Town Board unanimously passed a ban on natural gas extraction within the town’s limits at a recent meeting in an attempt to preserve the “health, safety and welfare” of the municipality’s residents.
After a public hearing on Tuesday, July 3, when residents mostly spoke in favor of the proposal to ban natural gas extraction — commonly known as hydraulic fracturing — within the town, a regulation was passed to deny any person, firm or corporation from drilling a natural gas well. Also banned is the exploration, transfer, storage, treatment or disposal of natural gas within the town.
“Guilderland has only a slight amount of land in the Marcellus Shale, but some experts say as technology changes there could be other types of shale deposits which Guilderland does have that could cause other types of fracking here,” said Supervisor Ken Runion in an interview after the meeting.
The Marcellus Shale is a black shale formation deep underground that extends from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It supposedly contains up to 516 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Town officials decided to propose a ban on natural gas extraction after members of the town’s Conservation Advisory Council began attending programs on the subject several months ago. The Council then unanimously voted against allowing the practice within the town and gave their recommendation to the supervisor.
In June, the Albany County Legislature voted to place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing on county owned land for the next two years. Runion said the town welcomed the regulation, but that ban alone left too much land open for natural gas extraction within Guilderland.
“We have a significant area of residents in town who receive their water from wells,” he said. “We need to do whatever we can to protect the water quality in town from any type of pollution. While experts say it is safe, we still don’t know if it is 100 percent safe and I think when dealing with water for residents, we need to know it is 100 percent safe to allow the activity.”