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Drilling hearing draws large crowd; passions running strong three years on

By Fritz Mayer
November 30, 2011

Wes Gillingham, program director of Catskill MountainKeeper, has a tone that is perceptively more strident than when he and many others began the campaign to educate the public about the realities of hydraulic fracturing.

He was at the center of a news conference of like-minded groups outside of the Selig Theater and Sullivan County Community College on November 29, a short time before a public hearing was to begin. The hearing was about the years-in-the-making Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) that will govern drilling and fracking going forward.

Gillingham’s message, along with others who spoke, was that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation should pay attention to the science of fracking, which Gillingham said shows that it cannot be done safely, regardless of the rules imposed.

On the other side of the issue, Brad Gill of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, issued a press release which said the SGEIS is too restrictive. He wrote, “Without moderation, these well-intended but unnecessarily burdensome requirements will prove to be a regulatory monument to lost opportunity.”

The comments offered at the public hearing covered territory
that has been traversed by thousands of comments that have come before. It’s not clear when the SGEIS will be adopted as the new law of the land, but it’s clear that the upwelling of public sentiment against fracking has delayed it coming to New York State much longer than most people thought possible back when talk of landmen and leases began in 2008.

It's FOUR YEARS of meetings, hearings and sacrifice so far !

Jill Wiener of Catskill Citizens and Wes Gillingham of the Catskill Mountainkeeper are two very fine folks.

They are motivated by love for their neighbors and for the natural world. They know we are fighting for our lives, literally ... and their tireless work and sacrifice is very important.

Please note a correction to your report. Wes Gillingham has been working to protect the Catskill Region and the Upper Delaware River Basin for four years now. It was December of 2007 that his work began on the fracking and drilling issue.

Wes and Ramsay Adams were doing their all-important research going into early 2008. The maps they worked hard to assemble were most valuable during the spring of 2008, and their research of the drilling out west, along with their talks with conservation professionals, also proved to be most important.

The work during December of 2007 was necessary as a " foundation" for much of the results that have come to pass recently. We thank you Jill and Wes and our wonderful community.