What's going on in Germantown?

Three-Town Meeting on Hydrofracking

The tentative date for the Public Meeting on Hydrofracking is Thursday, July 26th. The Town is awaiting the confirmation from one of the presenters.

Germantown was the first Town in Columbia County to vote for an 18-month moratorium on Hydrofracking and its accessory activities at the Town Board meeting of April 16, 2012 Implicit in establishing a Moratorium, the Town is expected to conduct a study of the issue and to make an effort to educate the public about the issue, so that there is a final result, either an end to the moratorium or a decision to ban the activity. Consequently, there is a tentative date of Thursday July 26th, for the public meeting, which will be open to the residents of Clermont and Livingston as well. They are waiting for confirmation of the date by the presenter. The meeting will cover the basic pros & cons about the practice of Hydrofracking to gain access to natural gas deposits.

Columbia County is not a prime target for natural gas exploration to the same degree as the Counties that comprise the Marcellus Shale area in the western part of New York. However, those concerned feel it is best to be ahead of this issue and to make sure that we are informed about all the factors to be considered before the search for natural gas is on our doorstep. Governor Cuomo has said that he would support allow Hydrofracking in the areas of New York State where residents (through their local governments) have indicated they are open for gas exploration and eager to gain the economic benefits such activities promise.

The State, although aware of the widespread political opposition to Fracking, is still hungering for the benefit of the economic activities of gas extraction within its borders. The NY Department of Environmental Conservation is still conducting a study of the potential hazards in the process. This continuing study has been made because after the DEC offered an earlier decision indicating that Fracking was not harmful, it was greeted with angry charges of malfeasance and neglect of duty.

A large group of environmental and public interest groups have forced a deeper investigation into the whole issue of Hydrofracking, attacking the process as harmful to water supplies, and ground stability and contributing to air pollution from leaks of toxics escaping into the atmosphere. They also charge that the vaunted “cheaper fuel” has hidden costs that make it less economical than claimed.

The industry, of course, says that its methods are now safe for the water table, that they have made modifications to limit leaks to the air or water supplies, and that they provide fuel at a lower price, both economically and environmentally. They feel victimized by a Not-in-my-backyard mentality and feel that they have the scientific proof that validates their process. The industry is backed in its claims by pro-growth local & county governments, some NY State agencies, and landowners who want to participate in the leasing of extraction rights on their land.

Both sides should have their opportunity to express themselves and perhaps learn something about the other side’s position at this meeting. As soon as I get the confirmation of the date I will advise you all. Kay Abraham 537-5404


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