Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Landowners defend "rights" to develop gas

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Albany/HV: Landowners defend "rights" to develop gas
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The debate over hydrofracking rages on, now with some landowners saying they have a right to develop gas on their property. Our Lori Chung explains.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- "The landowners’ opinion has gotten lost in all of this and we don't want it to get lost," said Senator Tom Libous.

To make their "pro" position on hydrofracking heard, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York release what they call their declaration of rights.

"New York property owners have a right to the timely development of property and private property," said attorney Scott Kurkoski. "We must have uniform standards for natural gas development."

Libous joined the group to send a message to policy makers, legislators and the media. They say anti-fracking efforts by environmental groups have clouded the issue, leading to moratoriums in communities throughout the state.

Otsego County dairy farmer Jennifer Huntington says a ban in Middlefield left her little choice other than to file suit.

"I attended a couple [of] town meetings and realized that there was a very vocal, very active group against the drilling. My point was I didn't think that my side had gotten heard, [that] the science had gotten heard," Huntington said.

The DEC is currently working on rules for fracking, a process of injecting water, chemicals and sand into shale rock to extract gas that has drawn criticism from environmentalists.

"We have watched this industry across the country run rampant. We've seen thousands of cases of water contamination, health problems and the science is still coming out on this," said John Armstrong of Frack Action.

JLC says their members are mainly farmers and property owners who are the original stewards of the environment and can be counted on to make sure gas companies drill responsibly. Something that won't be possible until the DEC finalizes regulations to allow permitting to move forward.

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