Green organizations team up in Sullivan

MONTICELLO — Sullivan County environmental groups that oppose gas drilling in western Sullivan, casino gaming in Thompson, the landfill expansion in Monticello and the mushroom plant in the southern Town of Mamakating are getting together.

They're not, they say, teaming up to oppose economic development projects.

"This is not to fight anything," said Janet Newberg, president of Special Protection of the Environment for the County of Sullivan.

Newberg said the concept is modeled on organizations in Pennsylvania, which have pooled their expertise, established goals for environmental protection and sustainable economic development and educated the public.

For example, SPECS has done lots of research on recycling and composting, whereas other groups are experts on solar energy, community cleanup projects, green building practices and the environmental review process.

"People are thirsty for information," she said.

Several of these groups, however, such as SPECS, which opposes the county landfill expansion, have been focused on a single issue.

Tim McCausland, president of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, said he doesn't feel threatened by the prospect of having to debate a super-sized opponent at public hearings — provided they don't gum things up with unrealistic objectives.

"It comes down to hysteria and total irrelevant issues that are brought up that make my life and economic development projects more difficult," he said.

The groups held their first meeting Thursday in Monticello. Others attending included the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development, Catskill Mountainkeeper, The Delaware Highlands Conservancy and The Basha Kill Area Association. Representatives from the Gerry Foundation and Sullivan County Planning Department also attended.

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