Appalachian Basin

Landowners Deliver More than 11,000 Letters of Support to DEC


Jim Willis
Editor, Marcellus Drilling News


On Tuesday, over 500 people attended five separate press conferences held throughout New York State with a single purpose—to support the development of natural gas from shale in New York. The lead press conference was held at the Capitol Building in Albany where Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, presented over 11,000 letters of support to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The deadline for submitting written comments on the latest version of draft drilling regulations, known as the SGEIS, is today (Jan. 11th).

In addition to Albany, press conferences were held in the state’s Southern Tier region—Binghamton, Oneonta, Candor and Corning. Speakers included landowners and coalition representatives, government officials, business owners, and a film maker (no, not Josh Fox!). Drilling supporters turned out in large numbers, with standing room only at some locations.

Landowners Gather at Oneonta Meeting

At the Binghamton press event, Ron Szymanski of the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition introduced six speakers from the Greater Binghamton area, including Neil Guiles, president and owner of Vestal Asphalt. Even though Marcellus development has not yet started in New York, Neil recounted how his business has rapidly expanded because of Marcellus-related activity just across the border in Pennsylvania (see the video highlight below).

Vestal Asphalt repairs and resurfaces roadways. Siting, grading and ultimately developing a wellsite requires truck trips to and from the well. The increase in traffic sometimes takes a toll on the roads, but contrary to what you may have heard, operators are responsible for – and invest millions of dollars a year in — fixing the roadways. Companies like Chesapeake and Williams, with operations in Northeastern Pennsylvania, contract with Vestal Asphalt to handle road repairs.

Neil said in the past three years he’s hired 80 new employees, added millions of dollars per year to his payroll, and that the money he’s paying those 80 new employees stays in the Southern Tier. Homes are purchased, new and used vehicles, groceries—a long list of economic benefits that ripple throughout the local economy from just one business. According to Neil, “Absolutely everyone benefits economically when gas comes to New York.”

After Neil spoke, Chris Lacey addressed the crowd. Chris is a housewife, a landowner, grandmother of five, and as she said, “apparently, now, an activist.” Chris spoke of the highs and lows she’s seen since moving to the Southern Tier in the 1970s—and of the region’s desperate need for jobs. Her recommendation? Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth any longer. Let’s responsibly develop our God-given resources.

Also speaking in Binghamton was Aaron Price, an independent film maker and director of the documentary Gas Odyssey; Enzo Olivieri, owner of Nathanael Greene’s Pub in Greene, NY; Julie Lewis, a member of the Broome County Legislature; and Vic Furman, a landowner and representative from the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which collectively represents over 70,000 people and 800,000 acres of land.


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