Monday, February 22, 2010

New York Debate Continues on Fracking

CALLICOON — The mayor of a map-speck Texas town warned Sullivan County that noise, air pollution and heavy traffic will overrun the Catskills if smart regulations are not implemented before natural gas drilling starts.
"This is a delicate process that has to be regulated," said Calvin Tillman, the mayor of Dish, Texas. "If you do it wrong, ain't nobody gonna want to live here."
Tillman spoke to a crowd of more than 150 Saturday at the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon. He's been touring parts of New York and Pennsylvania to chat about his town's experience with gas drilling in northern Texas.
Some of Tillman's data and anecdotes drew gasps and murmurs from the crowd, comprised largely of gas drilling opponents.
He told them about noisy gas-drilling rigs that spit out carcinogens, including benzene, in dangerously high concentrations. Some became ill from the pollution. He told them about the army of huge trucks that tore up local roads in his town of 180 people. He showed them photos of drill rigs that were so close to homes they threw shadows over a child's sandbox.
"There should be places that are off-limits to gas drilling," Tillman told the crowd, which met that idea with applause. Then he told the citizens to band together and demand better regulations: "Together we bargain, divided we beg."
Sullivan County began to grapple with gas drilling about 18 months ago, as companies began soliciting leases to drill in the gas-rich Marcellus shale that lies beneath many of the towns here. The move to drill has slowed because of the sagging economy and because New York is revisiting its drilling regulations.
That has given Sullivan County time to prepare for what seems inevitable.
"I think everyone understands there will be drilling; we just have to make sure it's done responsibly," Nancy Janyszeski, chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Nockamixon Township, Pa., told the crowd.
Neither Janyszeski nor Tillman were anti-drilling. They never once spoke of banning it. Rather, they preached smart preparation. Tillman said Sullivan County should prepare baseline air and water tests, advocate for a severance tax on minerals that could pay for environmental oversight, work to outlaw drilling near schools and other sensitive areas, and push for greener drilling techniques.
In a blunt, Southern tone, he boiled his message down to this: "Don't assume nothing will happen. Prepare ahead of time. You have an opportunity to do this better than we did."

No comments: