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Otsego County Left Out of Gas Drilling Public Hearings

September 7, 2011
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For immediate release: Wednesday, September 7, 2011

For more information: Ellen Pope, 607/547 8881

Otsego Citizens Shut Out of

New York State’s Hearing Process on Gas Drilling

Citizen-driven town-by-town petition and survey effort shows

strong majority of Otsego residents oppose drilling

(Cooperstown, NY)-Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released New York State’s draft fracking guidelines (officially known as the Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement or "SGEIS") and announced a public hearing schedule that does not include Otsego County. Representatives of Otsego 2000, a founding member of the Coalition Against Unsafe Drilling, and Otsego County residents concerned about the environmental impacts of dirty gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," are outraged that New York State does not plan to hold public hearings in the area, despite widespread local concern and the potential long-term detrimental impacts from hydrofracking on the community, including Otsego Lake and the Susquehanna River headwaters.

"Citizens throughout Otsego County are incredibly concerned about the impacts that fracking will have on our community and with good reason. All you need to do is look at what’s happened in Pennsylvania to know that fracking brings unacceptably high risks to our water, air, and community character," said Ellen Pope, Otsego 2000 executive director. "Otsego County has a direct stake in how our state leaders decide to oversee fracking, since the county overlies not just the Marcellus but also the Utica shale. Fracking here could put all of Otsego County’s economic and environmental assets at risk – our farms, our tourism, and major employers like Bassett and Brewery Ommegang all depend on our pristine waters and rich agricultural lands. Jeopardizing them for uncertain short-term economic gains is too high a price for Otsego County to pay."

Earlier this month, 76 organizations, including Otsego 2000, released a letter to Governor Cuomo and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Martens calling for a 180-day comment period along with public hearings in at least the same four areas where the agency held hearings on its 2009 draft fracking document-Binghamton, Sullivan County, New York City and Delaware County. The letter also called on state leaders to hold hearings in as many of the communities likely to be affected by fracking as possible, including but not limited to Otsego County, where a citizen-driven town-by-town petition and survey effort has shown that, county-wide, a strong majority of registered voters and residents oppose hydrofracking in their townships.

Mail surveys were conducted in ten townships, and petition drives in nine others. Response rates to the mail surveys, sent to registered voter households and property owners not registered to vote, ranged between 20% and 60% (The industry standard for mail surveys is between 10% and 30%). The percentage of respondents opposing drilling in each of the ten townships ranges from 55% to 89%. Together with petition signatures in nine townships, 12,000 Otsego residents and property owners are on record to date as opposing shale gas drilling.

"If Governor Cuomo plans to allow fracking to proceed in Otsego County, New York, we deserve to have our voices heard and documented on the state record. We are parents, teachers, farmers, merchants, construction workers, and professionals who balance work with life and may not have the opportunity to write extensive comments. Public hearings are part of the democratic process and help make sure our concerns about fracking are recorded and delivered," Pope said.

To frack a gas well, millions of gallons of water, sand, and toxic chemicals are pumped deep underground at high pressure. This fractures the rock that has trapped the gas for millennia and allows it to escape. From start to finish, gas development that relies on fracking is an industrial process that threatens our water. State after state, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania, has documented its dangers. New York can’t afford to put short-term gas profits ahead of the long-term health of our water and our communities.

Otsego 2000 is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1981 to protect the environmental, scenic, cultural and historic resources of the Otsego Lake region and northern Otsego County. We advance our mission through informed advocacy, public education, innovative projects, economic alternatives, and strategic campaigns. For more information, visit www.otsego2000.org.

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PO Box 1130, Cooperstown, NY 13326
www.otsego2000.org
Otsego 2000 is a not-for-profit organization founded
in 1981 to protect the environmental, scenic, cultural
and historic resources of the Otsego Lake region
and northern Otsego County

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