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Natural gas lease offer voted down by Broome County Legislature


Broome County won't be leasing its lands for natural gas drilling anytime soon. The county Legislature shot down a second offer from Inflection Energy. Our Rob Wu explains why most legislators were not in favor, and what this result may mean for the people of the county moving forward.

BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- It was a resounding no to Broome County's second natural gas lease offer from Denver-based Inflection Energy.

"It is no until the rules come out and then once I see the rules, understand the rules a bit better, I'll be more comfortable at that point of entertaining other lease offers," said Minority Leader Jerry Marinich.

A sentiment shared by many other legislators, who believed there was no sense in rushing into an opportunity that should present itself again in the future. It's an outcome that took Inflection's CEO off guard.

"Broome County is indirectly sending a message to the industry that they're not open for business, but I don't think that's the case. What people need to understand is technology has been around for 60 years, the track record is extremely good," said Mark Sexton.

So the result is unwelcome news for some, but for not everyone.

"The fact that they paused with a lot of money on the table is very reassuring. We're in a new era where scrutiny on the public is very high. I don't think anyone's going to take assurances. They really want to know that what is agreed to is going to be effective for protecting the environment and public health," said Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting.

Not all legislators shared in the enthusiasm. They believe the decision has major ramifications.

"In reality there are consequences, serious financial consequences for us not getting the $7.5 million and in terms of loss of services, higher property taxes, it's not just a question of do you want gas drilling in Broome County, but the question is would you like to see service cuts," said legislator Mark Whalen.

Broome County executive Barbara Fiala agrees. She sees the offer as much-needed revenue..
Fiala said in a statement, next year and the 2012 budget are going to be "devastating."

Inflection officials said they're continuing to work with local landowner coalitions. They hinted more limited offers could be discussed with the county in the future.

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