County gas committee discusses potential liablities

NORWICH – Chenango County’s special committee charged with monitoring the natural gas industry laid out a plan of action at a meeting Tuesday.

First on the agenda was a discussion of the potential liabilities of leasing the county’s approximately 15,000 acres of land.

Natural gas companies, with Norse Energy’s Nornew, Inc. being in the forefront, have been leasing drilling rights to much of the county’s land over the past five years. More recently, property owners are being presented with lease offers to bury the gas company’s pipeline.

At the going rate of $1,000 to $2,000 per acre bonuses for drilling rights and continuing royalties upwards of 15 percent, the four town supervisors present and handful of invited guests decided to investigate the idea of leasing further. The county has already been forced into a compulsory integration lease agreement with Nornew, Inc. due to land within proximity of a gas well drilled in Preston this spring.

“We have a responsibility to taxpayers to treat this land as if it were our own, and to be more circumspect. Because we can be integrated on any property the county owns, I can’t see any property that we couldn’t lease,” said Committee Chairman Peter C. Flanagan, D-Preston.

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