County Legislature To Hold Open Meeting On Fracking

At the request of County Legislature Chairman Jay Gould, a special meeting involving fracking in Chautauqua County is scheduled for Wednesday in Mayville.

The session, scheduled for 6:30 p.m., will feature a panel of speakers to discuss environmental impacts and economic advantages.

Gould, R-Ashville, said a question-and-answer session will follow the presentation, but there will not be a privilege of the floor for public attendants.

“We (legislators) don’t know if we’ll be voting on fracking in the future,” he said. “It’s just an informational meeting.”

County Executive Vince Horrigan is optimistic about the opportunity for legislators to hear different perspectives on the subject.

“Sometimes, it’s an emotional topic, so I think it’s good to get the facts out and for the legislators to get information and ask questions,” he said.

Although the possibility of major industrial fracking in Chautauqua County has yet to be thoroughly discussed, there are many questions to be answered.

More than 30 U.S. states allow high-volume hydraulic fracking, but New York is not one of them. Since 2008, a moratorium has been in place on the subject in order for environmental review.

Opponents of hydraulic fracking say it’s dangerous to the environment and fear chemicals used in the process may contaminate drinking water, while those in favor of fracking cite economic advantages such as job creation and a high amount of taxes returned to local municipalities.

The meeting will be open to the public, and held in the legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building.

The session can also be viewed online by visiting the county website at www.co.chautauqua.ny.us. From there, click on the County Legislature tab and then “Live Meeting Stream.”