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December 6, 2012

Board members to visit Pa. fracking site

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — Two Oneonta elected officials plan to travel today to visit Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. facilities in Pennsylvania.

Supervisor Robert Wood said he and councilman David Jones will be on a chartered bus day trip to Montrose, Pa., for a presentation by Cabot and other officials. Wood said he expects to see various Cabot facilities and possibly visit to Dimock, a village enveloped in questions about the environmental impact of the hydraulic fracturing process to drill for natural gas.

In March, the Oneonta Town Board passed a 12-month moratorium on natural gas drilling by a one-vote margin. Wood and board members Jones and Janet Hurley-Quackenbush voted for the moratorium. Board members William Mirabito and Scott Gravelin were opposed.

Hometown Energy Group in Oneonta has arranged the chartered bus, which will have about 35 passengers, mostly landowners, said Marie Lusins, HEG director of business development and marketing. This trip is the last of about three this year, she said.

Elected officials from the area have been invited to this trip and other programs related to energy, business and job development, Lusins said, but a majority of lawmakers haven’t been interested in attending.

There is no cost to guests on Thursday’s bus trip, which is sponsored by companies, she said, and the trips are open to anyone, including opponents of fracking projects.

Adrian Kuzminski, moderator of anti-fracking Sustainable Otsego, said elected officials are free to go on any trip, but they may expect propaganda on this one.

“This is an industry sponsored trip,’’ Kuzminski said. “It’s not unreasonable to conclude that they’re going to get an industry point of view.’’

Sources other than industry-sponsored bus trips are available to find out about fracking, Kuzminski said, and elected officials also should listen to critics’ views on fracking in their endeavor to hear all sides.

Wood said the trip gives him an opportunity to see drilling and operations sites and hear about them in a forum that might not be accessible if he went on his own. Wood said he is particularly interested in seeing the size and noise-volume of operations.

However, participating on the trip doesn’t change his views about fracking.

“In general, there’s too much risk associated with the process,’’ Wood said. He said he not only continues to oppose hydrofracturing until it is proven a safe technology but also is unsure there would be any sites in the town suitable for the process.

Cabot, based in Houston, continues narrowing its natural gas development effort to the Marcellus Shale in northeast Pennsylvania, the corporation’s website said, and its oil development effort to the Eagle Ford shale in south Texas and the Marmaton, in the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle.