New York, Pennsylvania, share common concern over gas drilling

Thursday
May 22, 2008

Copyright © 2008 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.
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New York, Pennsylvania, share common concern over gas drilling

Gillingham: “… make
them do it that way”

HONESDALE PA – Catskill Mountainkeeper is taking its latest environmental battle across the river. The rapidly growing concern over the rapid influx of natural gas prospectors threatens the Delaware River, from both sides, says Mountainkeeper Program Director Wes Gillingham.

Speaking before a crowd of more than 500 in Honesdale, about 20 miles inside Pennsylvania from the Delaware River, Gillingham said there is little, now, that would stop gas wells from being drilled practically on the banks of the river. He adds there is little that restricts potentially devastating mining practices, anywhere the wells go.

If wells are to be a part of the scene, the concern is to make sure it is done in the least invasive way.

“They’re not going to do it if don’t make them do it that way. We have to … when I say ‘we’, I’m not just talking about Catskill Mountainkeeper, I’m talking about every individual landowner and resident of this region, really have to take control of this issue, and force best management practices. Landowners, too, can band together and choose not to sign leases, because it’s not worth the risk.”

Attorney Harry Weiss, of Philadelphia, representing a group of Wayne County property owners, agreed the National Park Service authority is generally restricted to the river itself, not adjacent properties. That point also conceded by Upper Delaware Council Executive Director William Douglas.

But Weiss does not see gas prospecting as all bad. “It has potential, if things are done right”, Weiss said. He urged partnerships between property owners contemplating signing leases with drilling companies.

Many of the people attending the more than two-hour session wanted little to do with unchecked natural gas extraction. Among the concerns voiced during a question and answer session were what happens if one property owner is harmed by drilling on a neighbor’s property, what kind of chemicals are used in the extraction process and what recourses do anyone have, if there is damage by drilling companies.

One well is already being drilled in Wayne County, just across the Delaware from Sullivan County. Several people on both sides of the river have been approached by drilling companies.

The forum in Honesdale was organized by the Upper Delaware Council and National Park Service.

For more on gas leasing forum, visit PoconoNews.Net


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