Gas drilling a non-issue in Smyrna supervisor election

SMYRNA – The assessed value of the Town of Smyrna has declined, in part due to a drop just shy of $1 million in taxes paid to the school district, town and county on natural gas production over the previous year. That’s a significant impact for this 1,280-person locale situated in north central Chenango County, where the number of cows and dairy farmers are also dwindling.

The loss – mainly from vertical-drilled, sandstone wells – could be attributed to low market prices for natural gas or that the town’s more than 30 wells have tapered off as in the regular course of production. But overall, output is down from periods of inactivity last year after Norse Energy canceled its long-term sandstone and Utica shale drilling program, and subsequently shut in some wells.

Officials of the Norwegian-based energy company, known as Nornew when it first opened up for business in Smyrna back in 2005-2006, blamed their plight – and Smyrna’s assessment decline – on New York State for not releasing the Department of Environmental Conservation’s new shale gas drilling regulations.

Unlike other local races where the issue of shale gas drilling and the high water volume hydraulic fracturing needed to capture it, is viewed as a key issue in Tuesday’s election, the two candidates vying for Town of Smyrna supervisor are both in favor of fracking, as it’s called, and trust the DEC to regulate it.

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