Natural Gas Use Proposed For Village Heating

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, the Village of New Paltz held a board meeting to discuss a variety of topics, including the potential use of natural gases for heating purposes. The consideration of using natural gas to heat local buildings is contradictory to the fracking ban in our village, according to local residents. The Village of New Paltz was one of the first towns to ban fracking after the New York State Supreme Court ruling back in July.

During the public comment portion several student members of NYPIRG shared their opinion on fracking and the village’s potential use of natural gas. Several of the speakers mentioned points including gas’s finite nature, its effect on the environment in which it is procured — such as waterway damage — and the economic uncertainty surrounding natural gases implementation and production. Residents who spoke expressed their belief that the upkeep for natural gas systems, once installed, would be unfeasible.

“Using natural gas is not economically feasible,” second-year marketing major, Alexandra Miller said. “We should not invest in the infrastructure because it is just another finite resource which will run out.”

Other attendees agreed, addressing concerns that the village could suffer an economic setback if they invested in the use of natural gas, only to meet complications later on. However, the primary argument against the village’s use of natural gas was the sentiment that it would be hypocritical to have banned fracking in the village, only to then import natural gas that was fracked somewhere else.

Elena Kilcullen, a fourth-year double major in psychology and disaster studies who attended the meeting, said that New Paltz is an example to other towns in the Hudson Valley, so using natural gas would send the wrong message.

“My intention was to voice my concerns,” Kilcullen said. “Fracking was banned in our town and county and it would be hypocritical to get it from our neighbors in Pennsylvania.”

The majority of community members in attendance agreed that the use of natural gas was a poor choice for New Paltz. After hearing residents’ commentary, the village board seemed inclined to agree with the commenters, but did not formally vote on the use of fracked natural gases. It is still up for discussion at future meetings.

The New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, will meet Thursday, Nov. 20. Residents can attend and voice their opinions on energy and environmental issues as well as discuss the village’s proposed use of fracked gas. Nearby, the Town of Ulster will vote on banning the use of fracking fluids on Thursday, Nov. 20.