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Tuesday headlines PM

Apr 12, 2011 4:05 pm
Registry to chart gas-drilling chemicals
The Ithaca Journal reports that a pair of state groups has launched a registry for chemicals used in extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing. The on-line registry makes it easier for the public to find out what chemicals are being used to extract natural gas in nearby wells. But participating drillers will continue to withhold information about chemicals they consider proprietary. The process known as "fracking" unlocks reserves of natural gas trapped in deep rock formations using the high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals to break up rock and release the natural gas. Twenty-four drillers have volunteered to also post that data on the registry, called FracFocus.org, so the public can find information about most of the chemicals used in nearby wells, excepting those termed "trade secrets." The fluids used in the process were exempted from federal oversight by a 2005 law. There are proposals in congress to give the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate the fluids and require drillers to disclose all of the chemicals used. The EPA is conducting a study of the process. Initial results are expected to be released by the end of 2012.

White paper says government efficiency is the name of the game in the Hudson Valley
Mid Hudson News Network has a story about a new Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress white paper on government efficiency that suggests that consolidation is not necessarily an answer to Hudson Valley governmental inefficiencies. The white paper suggests a spectrum of options including shared services, collaborations and possible consolidations. It also notes that New York City, with over 8 million people, has one mayor, one police department and one fire department. In the Hudson Valley, meanwhile, there are nine counties, 13 cities, 137 towns, 88 villages, 123 school districts, 220 fire districts, 53 drainage districts, 114 fire protection districts, 227 lighting districts, 32 park districts, 24 refuse and garbage districts, 329 sewer districts, 238 water districts, and another 102 miscellaneous districts. That totals 1,709 units of government and special districts for a population of 2.4 million. Got that all?

Suicide prevention efforts on the rise after recent spike in suicides
CCScoop's Mike McCagg writes about the apparent rise in Columbia County suicides over the past year, and a study begun in 2008 - when a record 20 such tragedies occurred -- that is now nearing completion. “There is a list of 15 recommendations that will be made (in that report) and to the extent that we have resources, we are going to systematically implement them,” said Michael Cole of the Columbia County Department of Mental Health. "It will make an impact to have decentralized services, to have resources available to where people live. If you look at it, a third of the population of Columbia County lives within five miles of Valatie. If we can have a clinic there, that would be significant."

Tax cap finger pointing
Rick Karlin reports in the Times Union on the new wars regarding a proposed property tax cap, suggesting that Senate Republicans jumped a bit early into blaming Assembly Democrats for killing any plans for the foreseeable future. The Senate, along with the state Association of Realtors and other lobbying groups, are pushing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to bring the issue to the Assembly floor for a vote, even though it doesn't have needed support. The fuel? Cap supporters are saying greater school budget cuts are needed to save people from still-high taxes.

Police: Slew of violent domestic incidents in Hudson
Andrew Amelinckx of the Register-Star notes that the Hudson Police Department has made a number of arrests within the past week stemming from domestic incidents, then charts the basic details of each case. The situations involved men breaking women's fingers and arms, smashing vodka bottles in lovers' faces, and use of knives and threats. All the incidents were reported by the Hudson Police Department in one release on April 11.