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Reporter's Notebook

November 17, 2012

Reporters' Notebook: Mayor, environmentalist trade letters over pipeline

Different views about natural gas recently sparked debate the old-fashioned way — through letters.

Mayor Dick Miller of Oneonta has let some “environmental friends”’ know that he stands by comments that the proposed Constitution Pipeline is safe and won’t have an effect on whether hydrofracturing projects develop in this area. 

Miller was heckled while sharing his views during a public hearing on the proposed Constitution Pipeline late last month. The next day, he wrote to his “Environmental Friends,” including the city’s Environmental Board, to reiterate his positions and explain them in relation to broader environmental and economic issues.

His letter also reviewed positions taken by the city of Oneonta during the last three years, including passing a ban on hydrofracturing, the process used to drill for natural gas; investing more than $4 million in energy conservation projects; working to ensure the safety of the water supply; and the Common Council’s report, `”Oneonta 2030 … Growing Into a Sustainable Community.”

“The city’s environmental record is a good one,” Miller said in the letter and further commented on economic bearings. 

“I suspect that I will always be more interested than you in the economic considerations of decisions we make on issues related to the environment,” he wrote. “I believe that we have to have both a sustainable environment and a sustainable economy.”

David Hutchison, chair of the city’s Environmental Board, applauded Miller’s support of the environment in a letter to the editor of The Daily Star. Hutchison disagrees with the mayor on the proposed pipeline and its possible effect on hydrofracturing, but said he “was dismayed as some of my fellow environmentalists heckled the mayor’s comments” at the hearing.

The two Oneontans agreed that discussion should include respectful exchanges of views.

Some local state police and their dogs recently were hosts to international guests, a media release said. 

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