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Legislature Requests Determination on Soil and Water Conservation Districts' Potential Role in Providing Technical Assistance Related to Gas Drilling

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Legislature Requests Determination on Soil and Water Conservation Districts' Potential Role in Providing Technical Assistance Related to Gas Drilling

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Legislature is asking a regional coalition to clarify how local Soil and Water Conservation Districts can provide technical assistance regarding questions related to gas drilling in the Marcellus shale.

By unanimous vote, the Legislature asked the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and its member soil and water conservation districts "to explore how member districts might be engaged to assist landowners (especially farmers), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and others concerned with the public interest" to provide "sound technical assistance...and "ensure the best use and protection of natural resources" as landowners and others answer questions and provide technical information to gas drilling companies.

With considerable staff time that may be required by Soil and Water Conservation Districts to provide such assistance, the measure also asks that a mechanism be developed to allow compensation for the districts to provide the technical assistance to industries, not by direct payments, but in a way that maintains their autonomy. The resolution notes that drilling and related activities "will involve critical questions regarding soil and water resources." The vote followed considerable discussion on appropriate wording to convey the Legislature's position in the proper manner.