Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
January 22, 2010 Issue
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Gas drilling
back on the agenda

By Dan Hust
SULLIVAN COUNTY — With enthusiastic approval from Legislator David Sager, County Planning Commissioner Bill Pammer told legislators last week that another hearing on gas drilling is in the works.
Once the state Department of Environmental Conservation releases its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) concerning gas drilling, the county will set up one or two public hearings for more comment to be taken on what will be the guiding environmental regulations document for gas drilling.
The state, said Pammer, will only seek written comments, but county leaders want to give residents another chance to be heard. Comments will likely be recorded and transcribed for submittal to the state.
Sager and Pammer agreed that two hearings would be better than one – one at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake and one at Sullivan West High School in Lake Huntington – to reach out to as wide an area as possible.
Those hearings will be scheduled after the state releases its draft of the final SGEIS, which is expected later this month or in June.
Towns considering road assessment study
Western Sullivan County townships are joining forces to determine how their network of roadways can be prepared for an anticipated boost in heavy truck traffic, thanks to gas drilling.
Though no definitive plans to drill in Sullivan County have yet been announced, thousands of acres have been leased or are in lease negotiations, and town leaders have been getting ready.
Indeed, taxes and roads are the only issues local leaders have direct control over, as drilling companies enjoy unusually wide-ranging exemptions from federal, state and local legislation.
Bethel Town Supervisor Dan Sturm told attendees at the town board’s recent meeting that Tusten Supervisor Ben Johnson is helping coordinate a county effort to assess the condition and upgrading needs of roads in five townships: Tusten, Delaware, Callicoon, Highland and Cochecton, most bordering the Delaware River.
Bethel and Lumberland are considering participating, though the cost (around $4,400) and the timing may determine whether or not they join.
Johnson is being invited to the Bethel Town Board’s next meeting – June 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Senior Center in Kauneonga Lake – to explain the effort to the board and the public.

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