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"No" might not mean "no" for Broome County gas drilling

Broome County's legislature has voted against leasing public land, for now.
Doug Kerr
via Flickr
Broome County's legislature has voted against leasing public land, for now.

Last week the Broome County Legislature turned down an offer of $7.8 million for the gas rights to 3,200 acres of county land, including the subsurface of the airport and several parks. However, thePress & Sun Bulletin suggests today that Republican victories in the November elections may put gas leasing right back on the table in January.

The offer, from Denver-based Inflection Energy received the support of only three of the nineteen county legislators. Four were not allowed to vote because of a personal stake in drilling in the Marcellus Shale. 

The incoming chairman, Jerry Marinich (R), who will replace Daniel D. Reynolds (D), has said he will not bar those legislators from voting on gas offers, despite counsel of county attorney Joseph Sluzar to "avoid even an appearance of impropriety."

Manich responded in the Press & Sun that:

"I, as chair, will not recuse them from speaking unless there is a legal precedent, which I am not aware of," Marinich said. "If their constituents feel they didn't do the right thing, I'm sure they'll let them know the next election."

Some members of the legislature have urged the county to lease land earlier to obtain a higher royalty rate. But others, including the current chair, have said they want to wait until the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) completes its environmental regulatory process, reviewing hydrofracking.

Speaking after the vote last week, Chairman Reynolds said he did not expect the new legislature to immediately reverse its stance on gas drilling.

"It's very doubtful because a lot of the ‘no’ votes [against leasing] came from people that are still here," Reynolds noted.

The three legislators who voted to in favor of the Inflection offer were Democrats. County Executive Barbara Fiala, who supported the lease offer, is also a Democrat.

The new legislature takes office in January.

Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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