BINGHAMTON -- A proposed plan for a state-mandated review of a Broome County natural gas lease drew concern from a Department of Environmental Conservation official in September, according to internal correspondence.

Betty Ann Hughes, then the DEC's chief of State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and training, said in a pair of messages that without the county completing some analysis of "the potential impacts of typical development activities" on land offered for lease, she would be "concerned that the lease action and supporting SEQR record could be vulnerable to challenge."

The e-mails, obtained by Ithaca-based activist Walter Hang and provided to this newspaper, were sent to a pair of county attorneys and Frank Evangelisti, acting commissioner of the Broome County Department of Planning and Economic Development. They were sent in response to a message from Evangelisti seeking an opinion on how the county should proceed with the SEQR process.

County administration has pushed a resolution that would set the parameters of a "generic" gas lease to define terms and conditions to be included in any offer the county would consider, including a current $7.8 million offer from Denver-based Inflection Energy. That resolution would also approve a completed Environmental Assessment Form for the state review process, and a separate resolution would declare signing a lease with the generic terms would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

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