The Broome County Legislature recently approved a new Office of Energy Development, but the purpose of the office is not clear.
During her 2012 campaign for county executive, Debbie Preston promised to create an office for the promotion of natural gas development in Broome County. Two months after winning the election, Preston unveiled the Office of Energy Development.
"I want to make clear, this is not just gas drilling, that's not what it is, this is not a cover up for it," she said.
Preston says the main purpose of the office is to promote energy efficiency and renewable resources. If New York state does permit the highly controversial hydrofracking, the office would become a resource for companies looking to drill in the county.
The county legislature approved it by a 10-5 vote, with five Democrats voting against it. Democratic legislator Jason Garnar says an office dedicated to energy conservation would do work already handled by many agencies.
"I guess I just wish that the county executive would be more honest in what she wants," said Garnar.
The Office of Energy Development started operations in January. Half of the $200,000 a year budget will come from the Industrial Development Agency and the other half will come from the county's hotel tax.
The New York state government continues its study of fracking as advocates for and against the highly controversial drilling process in Broome County and across the Southern Tier wait for the decision of whether or not it will be allowed in New York state.