MAP – Tompkins

The Marcellus Accountability Project
for Tompkins County

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The Marcellus Accountability Project
for Tompkins County

Gas drilling is coming soon to the Finger Lakes Region. Rumors abound, but one thing is sure: in the next few years residents will see a dramatic transformation of the local area to a more industrial landscape. How many wells will be drilled? How rapidly? Economic uncertainty makes answering these questions difficult, but predictions range from hundreds to thousands of wells over the next 5 to 20 years.

Gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale will be by hydraulic fracturing ("hydrofracking"). Unlike conventional drilling, hydrofracking involves pumping vast amounts of water laced with toxic chemicals into the ground under high pressure to fracture the shale. At some sites, loud compressors run nonstop to move the gas into a pipeline. The process creates all kinds of adverse environmental and health impacts, and has triggered outrage and action from citizens groups and even local governments throughout the country, wherever it has been used.

The gas industry has spent millions of dollars quietly leasing private and public land in our area, and is well-positioned to begin large-scale gas extraction. Because of the infrastructure involved (pipelines, compressor stations, gas and chemical storage facilities), companies prefer to drill thousands of wells systematically throughout an area to "fully extract" gas from shale (read: make the most profit).

How much of Tompkins County is already leased? Where are the leases? How will your land and your favorite State Parks and wild areas be affected?

Click the map link on the left to see a map of Tompkins County showing all the tax parcels with recent gas leases. You can zoom in on parts of the map and print a customized version. The data was gathered by volunteers concerned about the effects of gas drilling moving rapidly into our area.

Also on this website is information on drilling, leasing, and how to learn more about specific gas leases. An extensive, annotated list of links is included.

We hope local residents will be motivated to speak out to preserve our health, safety, and the community and environment that we cherish.


Percent Land Area with a Gas Lease, by Municipality

Tompkins County

Municipalities Percent Leased.jpg

Data gathered from public records in the Tompkins County Clerk's Office.  Numbers are from leases recorded from January 2005 through October 2009.

Tompkins County Gas Leasing Statistics

Although at least 39%* of the land area of Tompkins County now has a gas lease, these leases are owned by only 6%** of the adult, non-college-student residents of the County. Thus, a very small proportion of the total population that will be impacted by gas drilling will reap any possible financial benefits.

Compulsory Integration

If at least 60% of the land area around you is leased, you may be forced to have your land included in a spacing unit. This “compulsory integration” allows the gas company to drill horizontally and inject toxic fracking fluids under your property, but they may not set foot on your land.

Eminent Domain

Even if you are not forced into a spacing unit, eminent domain may be invoked by New York State to route pipelines across your land.

Cornell University Lands and Leasing

Cornell University has not yet leased any of its land in Tompkins County, but will not rule out leasing.  They are waiting for what they consider to be adequate federal or state regulations before deciding how much land, if any, to lease. They are establishing an advisory committee of faculty, staff, and students to look into the issues surrounding leasing. For Cornell's 12/23/09 statement of their policy, click here. Cornell owns 11,000 acres in Tompkins County—4% of the land area.  Cornell owns mineral rights on 420,000 additional acres of land, primarily in the central and southwestern parts of the United States (Source: FAQ on Cornell Real Estate Dept. Website).


*Note that 39% is the minimum area of land leased, since an unknown number of leases signed prior to 2005 whose primary term has expired are, in fact, still active. See  Map Data Details  for more information.

**For how this number was calculated, click here.


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