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Hydrofracking lawsuit against Colden officially dismissed

COLDEN — Hydraulic fracturing has been the focus of much attention in the town of Colden in recent months, while this practice of harvesting natural fuel resources becomes better understood and legislation is created, across New York state.

The Colden Town Board has had much discussion about hydrofracking and has heard from gas companies interested in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

There is currently a statewide ban on natural gas drilling, according Bloomburg.com. The Colden Town Board has been working to create a law that bans all forms of fracking in the town. This past spring, Colden issued a moratorium against fracking, which was set to last six months, so the town could rally its next plan of action and seek legal direction, in designing a local law.

Federal gas company National Fuel said that Colden’s moratorium wording infringed upon its rights. “National Fuel originally held off a lawsuit, with an understanding that the wording would be changed, so that they could continue exercising their rights, under the Federal Natural Gas acts,” said Colden Town Supervisor Annie Hoffman.

In October, when the six-month moratorium was due to expire, the Colden Town Board prepared to renew the moratorium. National Fuel immediately filed a lawsuit against the town, claiming that the wording still did not allow the company to practice what it said it is legally permitted to do.

Hoffman said, “To defend a lawsuit can be quite costly. We, [as a town], have to follow federal law and the town board felt it was in our residents’ best interest to add the exemption clauses, that allow [National Fuel] to maintain their storage field.” National Fuel has had those fields in Colden for more than 60 years. There is not currently any high-volume hydraulic fracturing taking place in Colden and the town board expressed its intentions to keep it that way.

A committee has been formed, to ensure Colden is “protected in a 100 percent legal way.” This committee meets on the second Wednesday and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., at the Colden Town Hall.

“The town expects no further problems, now that the moratorium is in place,” Hoffman said. The lawsuit was officially dismissed on Oct. 29.
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