Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
March 1, 2013 Issue
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Frank Rizzo | Democrat

Dolores Manaseri of Lake Huntington declared herself to be neutral and pleaded for residents to wait to hear from the New York State DEC before making up their minds.

Cochecton talks about drilling

Story by Frank Rizzo and Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — With the needed findings statement in hand, the Town of Cochecton Board plans to vote next month on the long-awaited road use/preservation law.
Formulated by Cochecton and seven other towns comprising the Multi-Municipal Task Force (MMTF), the law is designed to regulate heavy industrial truck traffic on town roads, be they coming to Cochecton or just passing through.
Although initially conceived in response to gas drilling, the law will also cover other potentially high-impact industries.
Also at the December 12 board meeting (7:30 p.m. at the town hall in Lake Huntington), Councilman Larry Richardson may make a presentation about drilling in the township.
Richardson said this week he’s not certain he’ll go forward this month with the PowerPoint he’s created, since the state’s health impacts review of drilling has delayed drilling’s arrival in New York for months, at the least.
“I may put it off for another month,” he remarked.
Richardson did confirm, however, that his presentation will include an argument for banning drilling in Cochecton, at least until the state sorts its own regulations out.
“I’ve come to the conclusion we should put a ban in place to protect the town,” he explained. “My intent was just to put together a presentation on how I came to my conclusion.”
Whether that conclusion will be shared by his fellow councilmembers is uncertain.
The town held a public forum in October to give people a chance to speak out on gas drilling.
At the end, Supervisor Maas thanked everyone for the “healthy discussion” and noted that “As of now my position will remain neutral until I see the [forthcoming state] regulations. I will welcome new input and new facts.”
Councilman Richard Schulman said that he had a poultry farm for over 50 years where he raised 350,000 broilers a year. He noted the importance of water and when he sold his farm the buyers were happy to know that the well produced 40 gallons a minute.
According to the official minutes, “In the beginning [Schulman] was for drilling, but having learned more about the chemicals he would be in favor of a moratorium. He is against gas drilling.”
Over 40 spoke that night, the majority against drilling and in favor of a town ban on hydrofracking activity within its borders.
Among the sample comments:
Town of Cochecton Health Officer Dr. Paul Salzberg, president of Sullivan County Medical Society, related the concerns of the medical profession. “The Medical Society of the State of New York asked that fracking not be permitted until health assessment can be completed.… Physicians are very concerned about the chemicals that will be used in the [process.]”
Bill Brady of Cochecton: “The economy is bad and a lot of people are hurting. I almost went under myself in 2010.… All my concerns boil down to this simple fact: If this process is safe, why is it exempt from the Clean Air and Clean Water Act?”
Dennis Nearing of Lake Huntington: “I’ve lived in this county 65 years. My grandchildren are fifth generation… and I sure don’t want to see [something] that endangers their health. I deal with a lot of people in Pennsylvania. Gas wells, gas lines run right through [their property}. They have no problems at all.”
Joan Glase of Cochecton acknowledged her sadness at the death of pro-drilling advocate Noel van Swol the day before. She quoted van Swol: “Everybody is an environmentalist” and added her own views: “I do believe we all desire clean water and clean air because, after all, we all have to survive on this earth.…Don’t call me radical. Call me smart because … gas drilling is a nightmare waiting to happen. It is the Town Board’s duty to protect us from any potential harm from an industry that will invade this area and change it into an industrial zone.”
Dolores Manaseri of Lake Huntington: “Tonight I’m sitting on the fence. I’m not taking an opinion either way. Why should I? Nobody has told me what fracking can do. {Fracking opponents] are very good at what they believe, but it’s all hearsay. It’s not scientific.… Keep an open mind. Be logical. When you hear what the DEC has to say, you can make you own opinion.”
William Gartner of Cochecton: “I am for drilling.… There are many wells in different states and they are still drilling and fracking. And they don’t have no problems. Why should we? … The DEC is taking four years, making sure that everything will be done as safely as possible.… I’ve been living in this town for 40 years. I remember what it was like. Look at it now – it’s nothing. Taxes are going up every year. What are taxes going to be within 10-12 years? I hope you decide for drilling.”
Organic farmer John Gorzynski of Cochecton: “My livelihood depends on clean water. I have customers at my market in New York City asking if they’ve allowed fracking yet in our area… they [would not want] to be my customers any more.… We really should wait until the science is out. Right now the science is very poor.… Fracking fluids are very toxic. Any chance of them infiltrating our aquifer, [the damage] is permanent. It takes 100,000 years for an aquifer to recharge itself.… To see the divisiveness [gas drilling] has caused is heartbreaking.”

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