County leaders call for large scale gas confab

NORWICH – A large scale gathering of the county executives, municipal lawmakers and landowner coalition leaders from Central New York is what’s needed to get state representatives to focus on the upside potential of the natural gas resources that lie beneath the surface here.

Despite two years of reaching out through communications lines, educational seminars, and county-level resolutions calling attention to taxation issues, those who follow the natural gas industry say the region’s representatives simply aren’t harnessing the economic potential that the energy source presents for lifting up Central New York’s economy.

Chenango County Natural Gas Committee members presented the idea for such a gathering Tuesday in response to another invitation to discuss exploration issues with Madison County lawmakers and planners from the Town of Lebanon. The two groups united earlier this month, the result of which was a draft resolution opposing a New York State “severance” tax on gas well production. Both county boards later adopted the resolution, respectively.

Any tax imposed on wells should directly benefit the communities that bear the costs for repairing roads damaged by testing and drilling vehicles and for potential emergency safety and environmental management services, the resolution states.

Municipal leaders from Lebanon and the Town of Smyrna, where much drilling has already taken place and the number of permits has more than doubled in the past year, led a drive two years ago for an “enhancement” tax that would be based on meter readings with revenues distributed at the local level.

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