November 13, 2009, News 10 Now: Final DEC public comment session on gas drilling draws hundreds

Final DEC public comment session on gas drilling draws hundreds

By: Vince Slomsky

Marcellus shale gas drilling is a hot topic across the state and hundreds packed into Corning Painted Post East High School Wednesday to share their opinions on it. It was the final public comment session offered by the DEC as it completes an environmental review on drilling in New York. Our Vince Slomsky caught up with people on both sides of the topic.

CORNING, N.Y. — It was a packed house inside and outside the auditorium at Corning Painted Post East High School Wednesday for the final DEC public comment session on drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.

The DEC released its 800 page draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement in September and has held four public sessions around the state to get the public’s input. And people seem to have plenty to say.

"The review that DEC has done is grossly insufficient," said Katherine Nadeau from the Environmental Advocates of New York.

"Natural gas is a whole lot cleaner to burn than oil is," said Larry Haskell of the Joint Landowners Coalition.

"Our initial indications are that it’s very comprehensive," said Brad Gill, Executive Director of Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York.

"This document is inadequate. There’s so many flaws," said Wes Gillingham, Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper.

Those in favor of allowing drilling in the state say it would provide the financial boost we all need in this tough economic time.

"There’s a lot at stake certainly for the natural gas companies but also for the land owners who sign leases and have wells drilled, for the local communities where the tax revenue flows back and stays in the local communities as well as for the state of New York," said Gill. "So really it’s a win-win-win situation."

Those against the drilling say our environment will be severely impacted, and the possible financial gains do not outweigh the possible loss of our clean water.

"It’s very simple. You can have water for the rest of your life or you can have gas for a few years. Because when they drill for the gas, the water is going to be poisoned," said Chris Tate of the Shaleshock Citizens Action Alliance.

Although this is the final public hearing on the matter, the DEC will continue to accept public comments until December 31. They also tell us that their current report is just a draft. After taking in all the comments more changes could be made.

If you were unable to attend any of the public comment sessions and you would like your opinion to be heard you can go to the DEC’s site.dec.ny.gov.

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