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Events draw out gas-drilling views


ITHACA -- Residents are being invited to add their voices to the controversial conversation about state gas drilling regulations in a series of events Thursday.

The first is a rally, set for the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Local and state legislators will take the microphone alongside several environmental experts and a few musical acts.

It will be followed at 7 p.m. by a public hearing at the State Theatre.

Doors will open at 6 p.m., and several ground rules have been set. Those wishing to speak will be expected to sign in, and will be called in the order registered. There will be a three-minute time limit on oral statements, which may be supplemented with written comments.

Hosted by the Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG), the hearing is meant to be a forum in which to collect public comments on the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS) -- the state's plan to regulate drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale underneath Tompkins County and surrounding regions.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has held official hearings at various locations throughout the state, but none in Tompkins County, so members of TCCOG decided to stage their own event.

They invited representatives from the DEC to attend, and will forward all comments made at the event to the state agency.

Walter Hang, president of Ithaca-based Toxics Targeting, has also launched a letter-writing campaign urging Gov. David Paterson to withdraw the dSGEIS report, and plans a presentation for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23, at the Women's Community Building on West Seneca Street.

Thursday's hearing will be streamed live at

Written comments can be submitted through Dec. 31 online at

The DEC document, more than 800 pages long, is available at, and hard copies may be reviewed at the Town of Ithaca offices, the Caroline library, Brookton's Market in Brooktondale, the Tompkins County Public Library, and Ithaca City Hall.

The fourth and final public comment session on the DEC's draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement is scheduled for Wednesday at Corning East High School, 201 Cantigny St., in Corning. Doors open at 6 p.m. for individual questions and speaker sign-up. DEC staff will be available at the start of each session to answer one-on-one questions about the format and contents of the document.

The public comment session will begin at 7 p.m. Those wishing to speak must sign in on arrival and will be called in the order registered. To accommodate as many people as possible, there will be a five-minute limit on oral presentations.