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Public calls out Reed on fracking stance

    HECTOR—Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing and the proposed Reading liquid petroleum gas storage facility ended up being the main focuses of a town hall meeting held by Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning), Saturday, Aug. 27.
    Around 50 members of the public came to the meeting at the Hector town hall.  Reed started out the meeting by focusing on the current financial state of the country, before fracking took over. Comments from the public led from the economy and business when Hector resident Lynn Gulkis said area business here depends on tourism.  She said, "fracking cannot be allowed in Hector" as that process would threaten tourism.
    Reed replied by saying he has connections to this area (a hunting cabin in the Finger Lakes National Forest and a cottage on Keuka Lake).  He said if fracking can be done safely and responsibly, then it should be allowed.  He added he has driven through Pennsylvania and talked to businesses where drilling is allowed, finding some that do support it.
    Libby Foust, Trumansburg resident whose family owns a farm in Troy, Pa., interjected that yes the money the gas companies pays is lucrative, "but that's not the only thing."  She said her family farm was destroyed and she helped her father move out of the Troy home because the land was no longer usable.
    "Farmers tell me it's worth it," said Reed.  He added there is a point and counter point to all arguments.  He said the fracking process needs oversight and reasonable regulations.  Reed also promised during the meeting to visit Foust's farm to see what has happened there.
     When told by the audience if he supported hydrofracking he was not the representative for them, Reed replied that "I am who I am.  I am in support of the industry of natural gas."  He added about natural gas drilling and clean water, "why in America can't we have both?"
    Reed was also questioned about oil and gas companies being exempt from the federal Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.  He replied that regulating Marcellus Shale drilling should be done by the states.  He explained that having the federal government making rules was "big government."  Reed added the federal government would just create "one size fits all" regulations which might not work in every state.  This was met with comments from the public that "water doesn't stop at borders."  Reed also said on the state level there is a chance of the Finger Lakes being exempt from the drilling like the proposed Syracuse and New York City watersheds.
    Near the end of the meeting Reed was asked for his stance on the proposed Inergy liquid petroleum gas storage and transfer station in Reading.  He said he didn't know enough about the project, but that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation should handle it, which is what is happening.  Comments from the public once again said the industry would impact tourism.
    "Why can't we do both?" Reed said.
    One of the few topics that did not involve natural gas came from Don Foster, whose son Adam was detained in a Dubai jail for allegedly stealing a pair of police handcuffs.  Don Foster said Reed's office was no help in getting his son released and never personally returned his calls to the representative's office.  Reed said his staff had brought the mater to his attention and that his office contacted the United Arab Emirates for assistance.
    "It's my fault for not calling you," Reed said.
    Discussion about the economy at the start of the meeting included a member of the public suggesting taxes be raised.  Reed countered with "that will kill the economy."
    He added that Pres. Barack Obama had the chance to raise taxes before Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.  Reed also said since Obama extended the Bush era tax cuts, he now refers to them as "Obama tax cuts."


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