Gas drilling forum planned in Andes


Andes —  “What you need to know about gas drilling in the Catskills,” an issue that generates strong feelings both for and against, will be presented by Wes Gillingham, of Catskill Mountainkeeper, and writer/researcher Anne Saxon-Hersh at the Andes Public Library on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 2 p.m. 
The free presentation will include topics such as the impact this type of industrial development will have on the region, and how property owners can access information and resources, influence legislation and protect their rights.  The new drilling technology known as hydofracturing has changed rural communities overnight, raising environmental and health concerns while offering a bonanza of easy money.  Presenters chose this topic because of the immediacy of the issue for all communities sitting above the Marcellus Shale.  People attending will find out how to access landowner coalitions and consortiums, grass-root advocacy groups, geologists and health experts, homeowner guides to gas drilling, and web links to videos and documentaries. 
Wes Gillingham is program director for Catskill Mountainkeeper, a member-based advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the long-term health of the Catskill Region’s six counties by providing a forum and information outlet for economic and environmental concerns.  He and his wife, Amy, grow organic herbs and vegetables at their Wild Roots Farm in Sullivan County and live “off the grid.”  He has worked for the Audubon Society and as park ranger for the National Park Service, based on the Upper Delaware River.
Anne-Saxon Hersh divides her time between New York City and a second home in Delaware County.  She writes on environmental issues and has covered oil and gas development.  Her article in this summer’s edition of Kaatskill Life magazine titled “Gas Drilling: Risky Bonanza?” is excellent background reading for those planning to attend the talk. In her article she quotes Wes Gillingham, when referring to Colorado as the poster child for “how not to do it”:  “The most important lessons learned from folks out West was to stick together as a community…we need to slow the process down and find the ability as a region to do this right….The entire impact of gas development needs to be considered, including water, roads, crime, emergency services and taxes.”
The Andes Library, at 242 Main Street is now able to offer programs that accommodate more participants due to its recently constructed parking area and the renovation and reconfiguration of the library interior.  Call 676-3333 for further information.