Special gas committee formed

NORWICH – Chenango County lawmakers this week finally decided to create a special committee that would monitor natural gas exploration and drilling and focus on the county’s responsibilities and options.

Gas companies have been aggressively targeting property owners throughout the Southern Tier and Appalachian Basin to lease land for wells and pipeline corridors. New methods for reaching more lucrative layers of the energy source have raised the stakes, with landmen offering upwards of $3,000 an acre plus royalties.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has permitted more than 65 wells in Chenango County, and a town official said there are 21 more planned in Preston alone.

County Chairman Richard B. Decker asked Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston, to head up the committee before a meeting of Chenango County Board of Supervisors Monday. It was not voted on. Richard Schlag, D-German; James B. Bays, D-Smyrna, and George G. Coates, I-Columbus, volunteered to serve.

The committee’s parameters have not been established, including meeting dates and other possible members. Flanagan said he hopes the committee can stay on top of developments, understand the state’s real property tax system for gas wells, consider leasing county land and/or entering into compulsory integration, help to protect roadways and water sources, and guide safe waste water storage and/or disposal.

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