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Residents rally against horizontal drilling in Otsego County
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - More than 100 people attended Wednesday's Otsego County Board of Representatives meeting in protest of horizontal natural gas drilling, or "fracking."
Some had recently visited Pennsylvania to see firsthand the impact of the drilling on communities - and they didn't like what they saw.
"The horror that I saw there began with...as we arrived, we went on a road where there were more than 20 homes that had their wells poisoned due to the high volume of fracking they did," said one protester.
An organic farmer from Oneonta asked the anti-drilling crowd to keep an open mind to what she called 'safe' drilling.
"We need to support our families," she said. "We need to support our farmers and we need to let this proceed safely and I believe that our laws will be in place to help us along the way."
The protesters want the county board to pass a moratorium on natural gas drilling until a federal Environmental Protection Agency study of it is complete.
The chairman of the board himself has signed a lease with a drilling company, but Floyd "Sam" Dubben says safety is his first priority, and his agreement doesn't mean he wouldn't consider the moratorium.
"We're just like any of the other farmers," Dubben said. "We're cash broke and we need every nickel we can to survive in the farming. Am I in favor of polluting somebody's well? Absolutely not. This has to be safe. I would walk away from my lease to protect the people of this county."
The President of Gastem USA, which is currently drilling in the Town of Maryland in Otsego County, says the fears of groundwater pollution and road damage from heavy truck traffic simply have not come to pass.
"There was no road damage; there was significant truck travel for a matter of two days.....we have not actually affected an aquafir that is a source of concern for them," said Orville Cole.
There wasn't enough time for everyone at Wednesday's meeting to speak, so another meeting has been scheduled for July 21 at 6 p.m. at the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown.