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Gas-drilling risks get local focus
|Thousands of Southern Tier landowners negotiating with energy companies are taking environmental problems of natural gas drilling into their own hands, rather than counting on state regulators.|
While the state Department of Environmental Conservation begins an environmental review looking into the effects of extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale Formation, landowners are teaming up to draft their own set of rules.
With the help of environmental engineers who have worked for the energy industry, landowners are insisting on contracts that outline strict conditions for drilling on their land. They include water testing before, after and during the process by an independent firm, emergency response plans, and rules for waste disposal and drilling techniques to minimize environmental problems, including truck traffic, erosion and water pollution.
"These are things of essential importance. If you put them in your lease, you're covered," said Robert Williams, director of environmental planning for Barnes-Williams Environmental Ser-vices. Williams, a longtime Windsor resident, is part of a team working with attorney Chris Denton on contracts for at least four coalitions in the Southern Tier, collectively representing more than 1,400 residents who own more than 75,000 acres.
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