With NYSHA’s entry – it was expected Wednesday, March 23 – Jane Forbes Clark’s entities will have formed a nearly united front against hydrofracking for natural gas in the Otsego Lake watershed.
“I guess that’s one way of looking at it,” said Doug Bauer, executive director of the Clark Foundation, after the foundation issued a statement Wednesday, March 16.
That statement joined others issued by Bassett Healthcare (Feb. 23) and Leatherstocking Corp. (including The Otesaga, Cooper Inn and Leatherstocking Golf Course, March 15.)
Tuesday, March 22, final touches were being put on the New York Historical Association’s statement (including The Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum), and it was due to be issued the next morning, according to NYSHA spokesman Todd Kenyon.
That leaves only the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The statements, from entities associated with Cooperstown’s most influential citizen and the cornerstones of the local tourism industry, come as – with a state moratorium nearing an end in June – the battle over hydrofracking appears to be intensifying.
At a Saturday, March 19, strategy session at Brewery Ommegang, the anti-fracking coalition heard attorney Doug Zamelis outline how town zoning regulations can help control gas drilling, perhaps even keeping it out.
The towns of Middlefield and Otsego have taken a lead in that, but Springfield, Cherry Valley and Hartwick are starting to move. The session was attended by people from Pittsfield and Maryland. And the county Planning Department reports interest in the new strategy in Butternuts as well.
Also this week, Sustainable Otsego moderator Adrian Kuzminski declared that members of the local Soil & Water Conservation District board have leased land to the gas companies. (See Page A4)
Steve Sinniger of the county Farm Bureau, who has been heading an Otsego County Chamber committee purportedly taking a dispassionate look at the issue, published a letter to the editor of the Daily Star mocking drilling opponents.
Catskill Mountainkeeper is organizing a Rally & Lobby Day in Albany April 11 to dramatize their cause.
The Clark Foundation statement raises concern about threats to drinking water and asks the state to bring Bassett into the conversation.
That 11 percent of land is already under lease “will have a significant adverse effect on our rural landscape.”
“We are concerned,” it adds, “that hydrofracking will harm the four key economic engines of the region: agriculture, health care, higher education and tourism.”