Tuesday, June 10, 2008

State Senate Candidate Calls for Moratorium on Gas Drilling

June 10, 2008
Contact: Michael Blaine, 607-278-9910

Citing environmental and land rights concerns, as well as disturbances to local communities, state Senate candidate Don Barber (D-Caroline) called for a moratorium on gas drilling and leasing in local counties today. Recent moves to purchase mineral rights lease agreements and develop wells in our region have created "a heightened awareness of our vulnerability," he said.

"A gold rush for land leases in our region is on, but comprehensive protections aren't in place," Barber said today. "The DEC and the legislature have to step up and address the concerns of residents who are worried about what will happen to their water and their land. They need to provide a pathway to allow for gas exploration that puts property owners and local governments on a level playing field with the gas drilling companies."

Barber noted that current drilling practices call for a process known as hydraulic fracturing that involves injecting millions of gallons of water and sand into these deep wells. "A permit must be required for this process due to the tremendous volume of water that is being used. Residents are concerned about contaminated drinking wells. The state needs to require a bond of the drilling company to supply potable water to those few landowners who end up without an adequate supply of this valuable resource as a result of the drilling process."

Barber also said that the DEC and the legislature should protect residents from the complicated contracts large gas companies are enticing them to sign. "You have these behemoth corporations bringing signing bonuses as they negotiate with financially-pressed homeowners. That's just not fair. The only ones who have the clout to deal with the broader environmental issues are the DEC and the legislature. We need a moratorium so all the environmental and financial issues of gas leasing and gas drilling can be worked out by the only level of government big enough to take on this issue-the state of New York."

Barber pointed out that local governments have been left out of the process. "Local infrastructure will come under intense pressure from this gold rush. Heavy truck traffic will damage local roads, and noise pollution during the drilling process is intense. Meanwhile, local governments have to pick up the tab for whatever happens to their infrastructure."

"We have to slow down and examine these issues very carefully until we can ensure an environmentally sensitive way to develop this resource," he said. "We shouldn't move forward until every protection for our environment and our communities is in place."

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