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Contributed Illustration

This is the planned look of the two billboards coming to Route 17 in Sullivan County, part of a campaign by four area environmental organizations to warn citizens of drilling’s potential health effects.

Campaign launched by environmental groups

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — August 10, 2010 — A new website sponsored by local environmental groups aims to become the main gateway to info on the potential dangers of gas drilling.
Yesterday, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Gasland the Movie, and EarthJustice jointly unveiled the website and announced companion billboards coming to Route 17 in southeastern Sullivan County.
Lawn signs and buttons echoing the theme “Drilling Isn’t Safe” will likely pop up across the area as well.
The site, www.drillingisnt, is basically an overlay of the existing gaslandthemovie.
com site, offering clickthroughs to the sites of the four involved organizations.
Catskill Mountainkeeper Program Director Wes Gillingham expects the number of participating organizations and links to grow quickly.
“It’s all about getting good, quality information to people about drilling,” he explained.
That’s the premise of a similar effort by the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development and its sister agencies in Delaware County, NY, and Wayne County, Pa., all of whom signed a resolution earlier this year to conduct an educational campaign.
That effort, however, is expected to lean more towards the pro-drilling side of the debate, promoting the economic benefits of the gas industry.
Gillingham said that resolution played only a small part in providing impetus for getting this new website going. Though the four groups behind the new site’s founding all have roots in the region, their desire is to create an ever-growing campaign that counters the messages coming from gas companies and those that support drilling.
“It’s been something we’ve been talking about for over a year,” said Gillingham.
The site and its sponsors are particularly focused on the health effects of drilling involving hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. While that’s still a matter of intense debate, Gillingham and others are heartened by the NYS Senate’s recent overwhelming approval of a moratorium on drilling through May of next year.
“And I think the Assembly has been behind pushing the ‘pause’ button,” he added. (The required vote to enact such a moratorium is expected later this year.)
This new campaign, however, is targeted at the average citizen, especially those travelling into the Marcellus Shale region via Route 17, where two billboards will appear, linking the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with the risks the groups fear are facing locals from drilling.
“We’re really making this information available to the average person,” Gillingham explained.

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