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December 04, 2016
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Town of Callicoon meeting; Concerns about fracking remain

JEFFERSONVILLE, NY — At the Callicoon town meeting on May 8, in a series of continuing presentations on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, Shandelee resident and bio-chemist Linda Reik gave remarks highlighting the dangers of methane gas leakage. Most recently, in Harlem, methane leakage destroyed two buildings and killed two people. Methane is 100 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. Natural gas is composed 90% of methane and, Reik said, natural gas pipelines have a terrible history of leakage. Last week in a report the U.S. government said, “the most direct way to significantly reduce the magnitude of future global warming is to reduce the emissions of heat-trapping gases.” Reik exceeded her three-minute time limit for a presentation and was asked to stop after four minutes.

A commenter requested to ask Dr. Reik a question and was told to do so after the board meeting or to go outside. A second commenter asked for clarification of the board’s policy decisions, expressing concern about his property value and whether he will receive adequate notification from the town if fracking occurs. Superintendent Tom Bose said he doesn’t consider it worth the time to discuss because the Department of Environmental Conservation will be in control of fracking, and it won’t be up to the town. Further, he personally believes that until Gov. Cuomo decides whether or not to run for president, the issue will be stalled. Individuals continue to be welcome to submit letters to the board that will be thoroughly reviewed.

Bose further said that the town has to protect itself economically, and said the board’s position is the safest that they can take. The questioner then asked what would be done if the land were polluted by fracking. Could a bond be put forth, considering that towns all over the country are doing that? Bose stated that the board believes that if fracking is allowed in New York State that it won’t happen first in Callicoon, citing as reasons that the public here is very much opposed to it; it’s not allowed in the Delaware River Basin at this time; nor is it allowed in New York City and the areas directly around the NYC watershed. If it’s allowed, Bose said, he believes it will likely occur first in the southern tier, where there’s a more accepting public, and Susquehanna Valley, where they are drilling already in Pennsylvania. The town would then watch this activity as closely as possible so they could do what they need to do at that time.

The questioner then mentioned that the United Nations has recently predicted a dramatic increase in water in the atmosphere, and asked what the town is doing budget-wise to protect itself. The supervisor answered that almost all towns in the basin and valleys have experienced a problem with flash flooding and it has increased a bit. They do what they can to responsibly pass the budget and improve infrastructure. He noted that the town doesn’t have control over climate change and in that respect asked rhetorically, “Did everyone here drive to this meeting in a gas-powered car?”

In other news, Bose said he received an e-mail about a campaign to assert local control of speed limits. A lot of farmers have called requesting a speed reduction. Since housing stock has increased over time in the county, this has had an impact on the need for speed limits. However, the town owns only a handful of its 83 roads. He is personally opposed to the campaign, because changing speed limits is a drawn-out process requiring state and county involvement. It would also require special equipment. The town does, however, put up precautionary yellow speed signs in places like speed zones by schools.

Bose then said that he spoke recently with the county sheriff about a rash of burglaries in Youngsville around Route 52. There was an arrest made and investigations are ongoing. Participants were reminded to say something if they see something by calling the sheriff’s non-emergency phone line at 845/794-7100 and taking a picture with their phone if possible.