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Yates, Schuyler groups are reviewing drilling

YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—At the same time the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is accepting comments on the proposed drilling regulation for Marcellus Shale, a task force within Yates County is also meeting to help provide municipalities with similar recommendations.
However, where the state’s proposed rules only cover drilling practices, the task force is seeking things the towns and county can have in place to deal with what else is affected. County Administrator Sarah Purdy explained it started as an internal group, made up of county department heads that would be affected by drilling. Now though, the group also includes representatives from most of the towns in Yates County. She said now the group has broken up into four sub-committees to go through the DEC’s proposal.
“So we don’t all have top slog through the whole thing,” Purdy said about the 800 page document. She said the draft proposals should be ready by early November, which leaves time before the Nov. 30 deadline.
“It doesn’t satisfy everyone, but I am encouraged by what it does do,” she added.
After that Purdy said the task force will once again focus on what it was created to do, preparing the county for Marcellus Shale drilling. She explained the group will focus on leases, and the impacts on jobs, the economy, and the environment. She said that the task force suggests might mean towns need to add to their zoning laws. Purdy said to accomplish this, the task force is speaking with other areas that have dealt with gas drilling. The Yates County task force has also already contacted the Schuyler County Energy Task Force, which is doing a similar thing.
Brett Chedzoy, Schuyler Cornell Cooperative Extension agriculture specialist, said the group has just had their second meeting last week. Chedzoy explained the Schuyler County Energy Task Force is also looking to counties in the Southern Tier and Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier that have experience with natural gas drilling. That information will be used to offer Schuyler County ways to minimize the negative impacts from natural gas drilling.
He said the group broke up into subcommittees to each cover an area that would be affected by gas drilling.  Chedzoy added the information might be applicable to other projects like wind farms and biomass burning facilities.
The subcommittees will focus on economic/social, environmental, roads, and public safety impacts. Chedzoy said the fifth group is an executive subcommittee. Hector Supervisor Ben Dickens is one of the participants. He said the subcommittees have been meeting since June, when it was created by the Schuyler County Council of Governments. Chedzoy said using subcommittees helps because getting all 27 members to one meeting proves difficult.
The Schuyler County Task Force is currently in the middle of its first goal. Chedzoy said compiling information was the first step, which is followed by identifying the priorities for this area. Dickens said their recommendations would vary per town. Chedzoy said the last step would be for the area municipalities to act on the suggestions, if they want to.
He said that by the mid to late spring the task force should be able to offer up recommendations to the county.
Dickens said the suggestions might mean some towns need to create land use laws. He gave Hector as an example because it lacks the zoning needed. Chedzoy said once the recommendations are completed, it would probably take months for them to be implemented.

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