PICTURE ROCKS - Concerns about the health and environment were among the points shared in testimony at a state Department of Environmental Protection hearing here Thursday night.
DEP held the hearing in relation to Chief Gathering's expansion of a compression station in Penn Township.
In all, 13 people testified.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
From left, Nels Taber, state Department of Environmental Protection northcentral regional director; Ted Wurfel, Chief Gathering vice president of environmental health and safety; Jim Scott, senior vice president, Chief Gathering; and Steve Hamilton, operations manager for Chief Gathering in Williamsport at a public meeting at the Picture Rocks Fire Hall, allowing members of the public affected by the Barto Compressor Station in Penn Township to ask questions of the DEP and employees of Chief Gathering.
Bruce Reese, of Hughesville, said his concern is about strong vapors from the station that he experienced twice. He lives next door to it.
Kevin Heatley, of Hughesville, said his son has asthma and he is concerned about the health impact.
"You're putting my child at risk for some company's gain," he said. "We know what happened to air quality in other parts when this arrived. The forest falls one tree at time."
Nicole Jacobs, of Hughesville, said she is in favor of the expansion.
"It's an economic boom," she said. "It's unintrusive so I don't see why it shouldn't expand. I have confidence it will continue to meet our needs."
Ted Stroter, of Hughesville, spoke about the environmental impact of the gas industry in the area. He believes the gas and oil industry should be regulated more than it is now and claimed more than 200 million pounds of emissions go into the air, leading to health problems for humans and the environment.
"I don't know how an industry that puts out that kind of emissions from operations can say they have clean energy," Stroter said. "DEP, I hope you take these concerns seriously."
Bob Wimpee, of Fort Worth, Texas, employed by XTO Energy, said his company drills for natural gas in Lycoming and surrounding counties. He spoke about the job growth that comes from the gas industry and extends outside of it.
Mechanics, welders and construction crews jobs have grown as a result of the industry. He said even retail, lawyers and restaurants have benefited from it.
While he said he realizes the public has concerns, his company is drilling in a safe, reliable way.
"We don't just work here. We live here, too," Wimpee said.
Ralph Kisberg, of Williamsport, wanted to push Chief Gathering to minimize emissions.
David Witherspoon, an electrical contractor of Cleburne, Texas, said he wanted to share a few facts with the public.
"I like to work around honorable people and companies," he said. "They always displayed that. They're good for this community. They really care about the community as a whole. We all want the best for the community."
He said he saw a small part of what it is in the area in Texas.
"What you guys see up here, we saw a little bit down there," Witherspoon said. "There's a lot of chance in your community to do very well. You have to let these guys use your gas. These guys do a very good job. They try very hard to do right thing."