In the next several decades, natural gas drilling may take place in Tompkins County, and the surrounding area, at greater intensity than previous natural gas exploration. Other states facing a similar increase in gas extraction have experienced substantial changes in population, land use, environment, community, and economy. The breadth of potential change is very large and there is controversy about how positive or negative the transformation may be.
CCE-Tompkins is responding to community needs for information about natural gas drilling, especially in the Marcellus Shale layer. In keeping with our core principles and long-standing mission, CCE-Tompkins efforts are focused on education so that county residents, businesses and municipalities may carefully consider the potential risks and benefits. Using accurate information as the foundation for critical thinking allows people to engage in dialogue and decision-making that anticipates, shapes, and responds to changes that could happen. Informed decision making by residents and municipalities is essential when dealing with such potentially far reaching environmental, social and economic issues.
Currently, CCE-Tompkins addresses gas drilling issues through its environment, consumer education and agriculture teams. See www.ccetompkins.org/natural-gas for more details or call 607-272-2292.
Environment staff works to provide information on environmental risks, protection and unknowns related to drilling and disposal of drilling wastes. The environment team is seeking funding to increase its outreach and education on these aspects of gas drilling. Reducing the demand for fossil fuels through energy conservation and efficiency is a key part of our strategy. Environment Program Leader, Sharon Anderson, serves on two state-wide teams -- Cooperative Extension/Cornell Marcellus Shale Team and the CCE Energy Team- that encourage faculty to fill research gaps, in addition to identifying community needs and educational resources and providing educational programs.
Consumer education staff hosts an annual program with the NYS Attorney General's office on landowner rights regarding gas & oil leases. Staff and trained volunteers answer related consumer calls. Contact Ann Gifford for more information.
Agriculture staff has been involved for many years in answering questions and sponsoring informational workshops about natural gas leasing for farmers and other rural landowners. Extension educator Debbie Teeter provides staff support to Tompkins County's Ag and Farmland Protection Board (AFPB) on a contract basis. Both the CCE-Tompkins' agricultural program and AFPB proactively address agricultural community issues, which includes gas drilling education, such as the recent program on landowner coalitions. As a result of the program, some people in Tompkins County have formed the Tompkins Landowners Coalition. This group is independent and not sponsored by CCE-Tompkins or AFPB.
CCE-Tompkins strives to provide education on a range of topics and often does so working with diverse partners who represent the various sides of this issue. CCE-Tompkins has, or plans to, co-sponsor educational programs with NYS Attorney General's Office, Shaleshock, Sustainable Tompkins, AFPB, Tompkins Landowner Coalition, and Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District, among others.
Each county's Cooperative Extension office is independent and seeks to serve the needs of the county in which it is located. CCE-Tompkins has an extensive system for getting input from diverse interests in the community. CCE-Tompkins is also part of a state- and nation-wide system and does work cooperatively with efforts in other counties and at the state level. While we may provide feedback or suggestions to regional and state efforts, we have no control over them. The website gasleasing.cce.cornell.edu is hosted by the state-level of Cornell Cooperative Extension. If you are interested in how CCE-Tompkins sets policies and program priorities please contact Sharon Anderson, Environment Program Leader or Ken Schlather, Executive Director.