Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Judge voids Southern Tier village's water sales

Posted by on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 9:28 AM

A judge's ruling calls for a halt to the Village of Painted Post's water sales to a Shell subsidiary, SWEPI, LP. The company was using the water to frack wells in Pennsylvania. Under the agreement the village would have received a minimum of $3.2 million over a five-year period.

In 2012, Painted Post officials signed a five-year agreement with SWEPI, which would have allowed the company to withdraw up to 1 million gallons of water a day from a village aquifer. A land lease was also part of that agreement.

Several environmental groups — including the Sierra Club — as well as several residents sued the village and the company in an attempt to halt the sale. The lawsuit argued that the deal didn't undergo proper environmental review. Earlier this month, State Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Fisher heard arguments in the case and yesterday he issued an injunction to halt the water sales. In his decision, he ruled that the village did not conduct an adequate environmental review before entering into the water sale agreement, which he voided. The village "short circuited" a state environmental review process, he wrote.

In a story published yesterday, the Corning Leader said it's unclear whether the decision will be appealed. The article also says that, under the ruling, the village would have to redo the environmental review and negotiate a new agreement if it wants to sell more water to SWEPI.

State anti-fracking activists, including groups in Rochester, focused on the lawsuit because of the fracking angle.

Fisher's decision is attached below:

Sierra Club v. Painted Post-Merits DEC

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