Gas Drilling Issues Occupy County Committees
Published: October 29th, 2008
By: Melissa deCordova

NORWICH – County supervisors are still grappling over the appropriate forum for discussing the myriad of issues that surround the subject of natural gas drilling.

At a recent meeting of the Public Works Committee, Chairman Harry W. Conley, R-Sherburne, suggested that a fellow committee member’s questions about seismic testing and environment-related concerns be addressed only during Natural Gas Advisory Committee meetings. The latter, which has been meeting monthly, was created this summer to develop policies and protocols to address the natural gas issues facing the county.

Supervisor James B. Bays expressed discontent that executives from a locally-operating natural gas company did not make an appearance at the committee’s October meeting, as previously requested. Chenango County Public Works Director Randy Gibbon said he made several calls to the gas company before receiving an e-mail that declined the offer.

In September, members of the committee sought clarification on the route for Nornew, Inc.’s gas pipeline and asked whether the company would seek easements along county right-of-ways to lay pipeline or perhaps bore under roadways.

“They said they didn’t know where the routes are going to go and would need multiple experts from the company to answer specific questions like boring, drilling, etc.,” Gibbon said. Instead, the committee was urged to e-mail a company executive with questions.

“I find that unacceptable,” Bays said. “There are individuals with certain amounts of technical expertise who could answer all of those questions.”

Bays continued to discuss natural gas-related issues, particularly those addressed at a public hearing he attended in Albany sponsored by the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. When Conley asked that Bays not take the committee’s time to discuss the issues, Bays said seismic testing, in particular, should be addressed at the Public Works Committee because it is a matter of right-of-ways.

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