watkins glen

Matt Richmond / WSKG

Yvonne Taylor lives across Seneca Lake from an old U.S. Salt plant.  During the day, the only sounds she hears at her woodsy home, about a hundred yards from the lake's edge, are birds, and the waves lapping against her dock.

But the purchase of the plant in 2008 by gas company Inergy has Taylor worried that a painful transformation could be in the works.

Taylor is a co-founder of a group called Gas Free Seneca, which is mobilizing to block Inergy's plans to store liquefied propane, or LPG, in U.S. Salt's old mines.

"People don't come to this region for the truck traffic, the brine ponds and the flare stacks," Taylor warns. "It's just not going to work - they can't coexist."

everkamp / via Flickr

In 2008 a Kansas City-based energy company entered the salt business in upstate New York.

For a company that primarily deals in the storage and transport of various types of fuel, it may have seemed like an odd move: Why bother with producing 300,000 tons of salt every year?

But for Inergy, the real prize in U.S. Salt's Schuyler County mines wasn't the salt.

Emma Jacobs / WSKG

Residents of Watkins Glen aren't sure what gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale has in store for their corner of the Finger Lakes.

Speaking Wednesday night, Penn State's Tim Kelsey said the most uncertain and challenging times in the drilling process will come early in New York -- like they have in Pennsylvania.

As it happens, he says that those times are also exactly when communities need to start planning if they're going to benefit from drilling in the long run.

"The timing is big up front, but then it scales back dramatically," said Kelsey. "And you've got to be planning for when it scales back so you don't get caught."