Libous discusses gas drilling, recent flood
Around 85 people came to speak with Libous at the town hall session at the Nichols Fire Hall.
Libous said the meeting was one of about a dozen he has held across Tioga County in recent weeks. He said the meetings were planned before the recent flooding to talk to resident about different legislation and other topics related to the state.
Libous said since the flooding, many of the meetings were half-flood related and the other half focused on gas drilling.
“I believe we’re going to drill,” said Libous, describing himself as one of the main supporters of gas drilling in the New York state Senate. “We have the richest Marcellus Shale under our feet.”
He said the decision to drill does not lie in government officials because it is currently legal to drill in New York state. He said the decision now lies in the hands of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Let us do it where the people want it. Let’s do it here,” said Libous of Tioga County, with the apparent support of the audience because of the method of drilling used- hydraulic fracturing.
“I believe it’s the right thing to do and I’m going to keep fighting for it,” said Libous. “In New York state, this is one thing I will push for over regulation.”
In terms of gas drilling, Libous said the general consensus at the public meetings he’s had in Tioga County recently, the residents are mainly pro-gas drilling.
“Its overwhelming in Tioga County and Broome and Chenanago Counties,” said Libous.
“I will say its got to happen,” said Libous, adding that he hopes drilling in New York state advances next year.
Regarding the recent flooding, three Blackhawk helicopters were flown to Nichols because that was the only means of getting supplies to local residents, said Libous. It was also pointed out in the meeting that the Nichols Fire Department served over 1,000 meals per day, ensuring the residents were fed while waiting for the supplies being flown in.
Residents also brought up an issue affecting many towns affected by recent flooding: gravel in creeks and rivers. One resident asked Libous if, while they are waiting for the money from drilling in New York state, they could sell the gravel from the creeks and rivers.
The removal of the gravel is believed to reduce future flooding, and Nichols residents feel it could be a money-making endeavor as well.
“We don’t have an answer yet,” said Libous adding that officials are working on flood-related issues such as getting residents temporary housing from FEMA.
“We’re overwhelmed,” he said.
Libous also said the state does not have enough manpower and equipment, however residents told the senator that while workers are available and willing in the area, the equipment is the issue.
“For the most part, FEMA did a good job with the flooding,” said Libous, adding that many of the flood-related issues at the meetings were flood-insurance related.