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PRI Hosts Task Force Meeting

September 28, 2010

Yesterday the classroom in the Museum of the Earth was full of people from the Southern Tier and Central New York who gathered to discuss strategy. Hosted by the PRI/CCE Marcellus Shale team, the meeting gathers stakeholder groups together who are working on preparation for drilling in the Marcellus Shale in New York. While there is currently no high volume, slickwater, hydraulic fracturing (HVSWHF) occurring within NY state lines, many people think that now is the time to prepare for its eventuality. These  individuals who attended the meeting represent groups who are currently working to prepare their communities for drilling in a way that maximizes potential benefits and minimizes potential risks. Many groups are looking at how to legally protect their roads and infrastructure, aquifers and wells, prepare their service industries, and manage public lands when HVSWHF comes to town.

While the rights of counties, towns, villages, etc. remain somewhat unclear, what is well accepted is that a baseline needs to be established – for any area of concern – before drilling takes place. This means that communities who are worried that their local roads will not hold up to the repetetive, heavy truck traffic need to establish a baseline road quality assessment. Some communities are driving over their roads and filming them, taking pictures, or hiring engineering firms to assess them.

Some communities are also taking steps to have their streams, aquifers, and wells tested for potential contaminants to establish a baseline of protection in the event of a noted change in water quality after drilling has begun in a region.

These types of practices are extremely important for local municipalities and communities to engage in. They are also difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes expensive tasks. The goal of the meeting held at PRI yesterday is to encourage networking and sharing amongst the groups. Some groups have made great strides in road, water, and infrastructure practices, and with much hardship. Sharing their resources, their talents, and their struggles allows them to learn from each other in the hope that every community will be prepared and ready to maximize benefits and minimize risks associated with gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

To see some of these resources, please visit naturalgas.cce.cornell.edu, or email marcellusshale@cornell.edu to learn more.

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