A History of the Issue
by Mary Makofske
In September, 2012, Sustainable Warwick sponsored a forum on “Fracking Pros and Cons: What Warwick Needs to Know.” John Conrad of the Independent Oil and Gas Association, and Carl Arnold of the Sierra Club Gas Drilling Task Force discussed the issue before an overflow audience at the Town Hall.
Following the forum and its own further research, SW decided to seek a prohibition on fracking and its waste products in the town. Though the rich Marcellus Shale does not underlie Warwick, the deeper Utica Shale does lie under part of the town. Also, at the time it was feared New York State would allow and set regulations for fracking, which would supersede any local control.
In October, SW member, Dr. Bill Makofske, addressed the Warwick Town Board and called for a ban based on the dangers fracking might pose to the environment, quality of life, and human health.
Over the course of several months, SW Chairman Geoff Howard, and members of the SW Fracking Committee wrote letters to the editor, spoke at Town Board meetings, and gathered community support (including an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures and letters from business owners).
Warwick Supervisor Michael Sweeton followed up on the issue and asked the Conservation Board to weigh in. After researching the impacts of fracking, The Conservation Board report noted that fracking would be incompatible with the Comprehensive Plan and recommended prohibiting the practice and its by-products within the town. The Town Board consulted with its planner and its attorney and drew up zoning law changes that prohibit heavy industry, including fracking and the storage or use of its by-products. A public hearing was held in February, 2013, and the laws were passed on February 28, 2013.