By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
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DELHI _ Two representatives of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York will be at the Delaware County Board of Supervisors meeting at 1 p.m. Tuesday to address rumors about the dangers of gas drilling.
The group describes itself on its website as working for "the common interests of oil and gas producers, professionals, and related industries" in New York.
Board Chairman James Eisel said he asked John Holko of Lenape Resources Inc. and Brad Gill of Earth Energy Consultants LLC, to speak. Holko is the IOGA secretary and Gill the executive director.
"I want them to talk about the private-sector perspective on gas drilling," Eisel said. "There are too many rumors, and we have all heard different things about the problems with drilling."
Eisel said state Department of Environmental Conservation officials have insisted that there have been no instances of contaminated wells in New York, but he wants to hear from the people who are actually working in the field.
"I just want fair and balanced information," Eisel said.
Holko said he and Gill plan a short presentation and they will then take questions from the supervisors. He said he hopes to get questions in advance so as to research the answers. Questions may be e-mailed by visiting www.iogany.org, or they can be submitted to town supervisors.
Eisel said the gas-drilling presentation will follow the noon public hearing on the budget, but will take place during the supervisors meeting, when there is no input from the floor. Therefore, questions from the public must be submitted in advance, he said.
Holko said the Independent Oil & Gas Association recently created a public relations and education committee to distribute information to municipal leaders.
Delaware County sits on the edge of the multistate natural-gas reserve called the Marcellus shale formation, which could bring a bonanza of royalty checks and tax revenue.
New drilling techniques are making the Marcellus shale formation easier to explore and have raised concerns about the potential impact on groundwater.
"If the Marcellus plays out, it will be a huge resource with large economic rewards," Holko said, "which is exactly what this area needs and at the exact right time."
Drillers largely ignored the formation for many years because it was too deep and too expensive to tap. That changed as geologists refined a horizontal drilling process to tap deep reserves and energy prices skyrocketed. Sand and chemically treated water are blasted down the right-angled holes to fracture rocks and release trapped gas, a process called hydrofracking.
New York City draws most of its water from in and around the Catskills, and city officials are worried about a natural-gas boom in their watershed.
Paul Rush, a deputy commissioner with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, told lawmakers in Albany at a recent hearing that hazardous compounds used in drilling could pose a "grave threat" to New York City’s water.
The DEP has sought a role in developing permit conditions in the watershed and suggested a one-mile no-drill zone around reservoirs and other watershed infrastructure.
"If they do it for the city watershed, they better do it for all watersheds," Walton Supervisor John Meredith said. "And guess what? That’s the whole state."
Holko said there is a lot of passion in the opposition to gas drilling, but he said drillers are well-regulated in New York and have been operating for a long time.
"People bring up horror stories from other states that are not regulated," he said.
Holko, who has been in the industry since 1984, said the best way to make drilling pay off is to do it with minimal impact.
Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.