Appalachian Basin

The Vestal Natural Gas Coalition Strives For Success!

This past week was very busy for the Vestal Gas Coalition as the organization brought in speakers to discuss natural gas development and take definitive action to move it forward in New York.

The Vestal Gas Coalition heard presentations this past week from several industry leaders and professionals, all intent in persisting in bringing pressure on Governor Cuomo to finally move natural gas development forward in upstate New York.

These presentations were only part of the meeting though, as several of us, including representatives from the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York assisted the members with a letter signing and a petition signing drive in the lobby.  The letter signing initiative proved very successful, with over 220 landowners submitting letters and giving their signatures to the effort.

The Vestal Gas Coalition started a little over 5 years ago with a few people who got together at a local church.  It has grown substantially since then.  Today, the coalition represents owners of roughly 12,000 acres in the Town of Vestal and some 873 property owners altogether.  This is just the Vestal Gas Coalition and there are other landowner groups operating within the town.  Adding them all together, it is estimated the landowners in support of natural gas development within the town account for some 58.4% of the land area involved.

The coalition also has a strong record of working with college students from the community.  It supports the local community college by using interns, for example, providing the foundation, it hopes, for further job development in the area.  The program I attended was another part of that foundation.

The first person to speak was Matt Telfer.  Telfer benefits directly from the natural gas industry and is from Vestal.  He grew up in the area, attending Vestal High School and then attended college at Binghamton University.  He has been working in the natural gas industry for thirty-three years with a geological background.  He now owns his own company, Borders to Borders Operating Company.

Telfer talked about his background and the area.  He talked about businesses that had to close due to the dwindling economy.  He addressed the status of the overall United States economy and the role energy plays in our country with increasingly important technologies. Watch his whole video below.

The next speaker was Doug McLinko, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  He came to share his positive experiences working with the natural gas industry with Broome County residents and officials.  He spoke about the enormous benefits his community has seen from natural gas development.

Perhaps the thing that hit home the most with Vestal residents was when McLinko he talked about the flooding in 2011.  He noted how the natural gas industry worked tirelessly to help rebuild the community.


He also discussed how natural gas development was saving local farms and keeping young people in Bradford County.  He provided one personal example, noting his son had recently moved back from Florida as a result of natural gas development.  He also was quick to note the outstanding leadership Broome County Executive Debbie Preston’s has shown with her efforts on behalf of natural gas. He argued New York State needs more leadership like the kind Preston has provided on the issue.  No one in the audience seemed to disagree.

Karen Moreau spoke next and it seemed her remarks inspired the audience.  She discussed her experiences growing up and how she came to support the natural gas industry.  She told us about her personal family struggles and her family’s efforts to keep the family farm together.  She also discussed the film’s she has been involved in, The Empire State Divide, Silent No More and Women of the Marcellus.  Moreau now works for the New York State Petroleum Council and also talked about its goals and visions.

Moreau urged the group to continue reaching out to Governor Cuomo in an effort to show the silent majority supporting natural gas development.  The group needs to contact Governor daily and tirelessly, she said.  This is the last leg of the race and it is evident we are getting tired, but we have to push through the exhaustion.

The next person to speak was Hazel Brandt.  Brandt was the first female police officer in Broome County.  She and her late husband moved to the area long ago and fell in love with Windsor.  She read a letter she wrote to a local paper.  It, too, was inspiring.

The coalition also heard from its legal counsel, Attorney Rob Wedlake.  Wedlake is an associate at Hinman, Howard and Kattell.  He is also the attorney who won the case against the City of Binghamton against David Slottje.  He talked about the necessity to keep up the hard work.

Concluding the evening, Bob Polancic urged the group to contact members of state government.  He also talked a bit about the coalition and their new efforts, including the Broome Community College environmental science initiative.

The crowd began to leave and I got the chance to grab an interview with Mike Petro, who attends Broome Community College and is interning with the Vestal Landowner Coalition.  He wrote a guest post here recently.  He will be graduating this semester and he has been accepted to Binghamton University.   Petro hopes to, one day, work in the natural gas field and stay in the area.

The coalition meeting ended with everyone having a very good feeling about the future.  The community came together and is committed to continuing moving forward, attending rallies and protests and signing letters, until Governor Cuomo does the right thing.  They know it is now time to make their voices heard, and are silent no more.

If you are interested in sending letters to Governor Cuomo, please visit to find out how to get involved.

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