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August 15, 2013

Fracking foes urge county, Bassett to reject move to natural gas

Anti-fracking activists are urging Otsego County government officials and executives at the Bassett Healthcare Network to resist overtures from a Boston-based company that ships compressed natural gas in containers to its customers.

But County Rep. Linda Rowinski, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the county’s Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns Committee, said she supports exploring the possibility of having the company supply the county government with natural gas if it will save taxpayer dollars and if the shipments can be done safely.

“If it will save us money, aren’t we obligated to at least look into it?” Rowinski said in an interview with The Daily Star.

Adrian Kuzminski, the moderator of Sustainable Otsego, said he fears if Bassett becomes a customer of Boston-based XNG (Xpress Natural Gas) it would lead to more businesses and homeowners converting to natural gas in Cooperstown, with a network of underground feeder pipelines needed to supply them.

Once the demand for natural gas is increased in the region, he suggested, it could potentially tempt operators of companies involved with hydraulic fracturing for shale gas to drill here.

In a letter to Bassett Hospital President William F. Streck, Kuzminski pointed out that Bassett has taken a strong stance against fracking. 

Since that time, he argued, “More evidence has come out not only about the public health concerns regarding water quality, but also regarding methane and other emissions.”

He added: “That should be reason enough for Bassett not to convert to natural gas. Further, as the natural gas industry moves to export their product internationally, the price is bound to rise.”

Bassett spokeswoman Karen Huxtable-Hooker said the hospital complex currently uses heating oil. Asked about XNG’s offer to supply the hospital with compressed natural gas, she said: “It hasn’t been acted on.”

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