BINGHAMTON -- In the highly polarizing debate about the natural gas rush in the Southern Tier, environmentalists and landowners don't agree on much.

On Monday, they were nearly unanimous in their opposition to a proposed lease deal between Broome County and a Denver energy company. Of 22 people who spoke at a public hearing on a $16 million land deal before the county legislature, 18 were against it.

Inflection Energy, a small company based in Denver, has offered the county $3,000 an acre over five years for the drilling rights to 5,610 acres of county-owned land. The county also would receive 20 percent royalty payments with minor deductions, and the company would pay for an "environmental monitor" who would report to the county and make sure proper regulations are being followed.

The deal includes an option, which could be exercised by the company, for an additional three years at another $3,000 an acre.

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