NORWICH – Although environmental and zoning restrictions keep natural gas drilling out of city limits, the prospect of drilling in the area has city officials preparing for potential economic and safety impacts.
The years-long debate over the safety of hydraulic fracturing – better known as fracking – has had Chenango County residents up in arms, and with the pending issuance of high water volume horizontal drilling permits widely anticipated from New York Gov. Cuomo in the coming weeks, officials are doing what they can to prepare.
“Should drilling be permitted, there will be things that come up and we want to be ready for what happens,” explained Mayor Joseph Maiurano. “This is going to be something that’s long-term. The main thing is, we want to make sure it’s safe.”
On the economic end, Maiurano said the city is bracing for a potentially positive impact, citing population increase and a stream of businesses surrounding gas drilling sites where fracking was permitted in Pennsylvania. “It’s a ripple effect,” said Maiurano. “People spend money in those communities and it goes throughout. If you had a lot of these stores for retail, restaurants and hotels, it’s possible to hit at least a 25 percent business increase across the board.”