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

Posted 9/30/09

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 …

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

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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.

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