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Protesters present petition against Office of Energy Development

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Protesters present petition against Office of Energy Development
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Since its creation in January, Broome County's Office of Energy Development has come under scrutiny from residents and some legislators who question the office's relationship to hydrofracking. Our Melissa Kakareka has the latest on the issue.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Broome County Executive Debbie Preston was out of town today. But, a small group of Broome County residents headed to her office on the sixth floor of the County Office Building Tuesday to urge lawmakers to vote against the creation of the Office of Energy Development.

Broome County Deputy Executive Bijoy Datta was presented with a petition of about 200 signatures Tuesday. It was from Broome County residents who oppose the creation of the Office of Energy Development.

"I threw this online and in a matter of minutes, the response was overwhelming," said Citizen Action Environmental Organizer Isaac Silberman-Gorn.

County Executive Debbie Preston announced the creation of the office back in January, and it has been running on temporary funds from her budget until the legislature approves it.

The activists say the office duplicates services that are already available in the county. They believe it was specifically designed to promote hydrofracking.

"There are ways to make this office really good and really constructive for the community, but right now as it stands she is using this to promote her own agenda of fracking," said Silberman-Gorn.

Preston has defended the office in the past, saying it promotes all forms of energy development. County Officials say the protesters are misguided and are twisting the facts.

"It's the Office of Energy Development. It's about long term planning and long term sustainability. Whether or not the state goes forward with hydrofracking, the office is going to go forward with legislative approval hopefully this week, and we're going to do everything we can to plan for smart, long term sustainability for Broome County," said Deputy County Executive Bijoy Datta.

Datta says the community showed an outpouring of support for the office at its first seminar last week.

"It was an overflow crowd. So if it's a duplication of services, there's certainly a need and a want out in the community to have these services," said Datta.

The Broome County Legislature was supposed to vote on the office's creation back in January but legislators held over the vote until this month's session. Lawmakers will vote on the office's creation Thursday night.

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