Saturday, August 27, 2011

News from DEC by Jon Campell

ALBANY -- The state on Wednesday will release its latest report on hydraulic fracturing, though the length of a public comment period on the document is still up in the air, the state's top environmental regulator said Friday.

Joseph Martens, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said his office would announce the length of the comment period when it releases the 1,000-plus page document next week.

The DEC had previously said the draft report on the controversial hydrofracking process, which uses water and chemicals to break underground shale formations and unlock natural gas, would be released in late August.

A preliminary draft was released in July, but the state was waiting to incorporate an outside report on the community impacts of hydrofracking into its review before beginning a comment period.

The comment period was originally slated for 60 days, but conservation groups have pressured the department to triple the length.

"We're considering all of the comments we've gotten about extending it or shortening it," Martens said. "And we're busy now about getting the document out as we said we would on Aug. 31."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, however, said Thursday he wasn't keen on the idea of extending the timeframe. Cuomo tapped Martens to head the DEC earlier this year.

"I've heard no reason why the comment period isn't adequate as it is now," Cuomo said.

High-volume hydrofracking remains on hold in New York until the DEC's review is complete, which is expected at some point next year

Monday, August 22, 2011

SCLOC thanks John Starzec for his positive comments

Recently I attended a coalition meeting and wish to share with you the following. The issues of drilling Marcellus range are complex: with many stakeholders, State and Federal regulations and the concerns of all NYS residents. That being said, what I witnessed from listening to the committee is that much progress has been made on your behalf with a host of complicated legal issues and the future of contractual guidelines.
As the process in Albany continues to unfold, your leaders will present you with a more definitive schedule of direction and actions they will be undertaking.
Two major issues which were emphasized at great length:
1) Continue to retain your mineral rights if you plan to sell your property. The royalty benefit may well exceed any signing bonus you may receive. In fact, the value of the Utica range maybe greater than the Marcellus, according to some experts.
2)Do not sign any lease with agents who are presently in the area without first checking with your leadership team as to their validity.
As we await the decision of New York State DEC study, keep your powder dry.
Coalition Member
John Starzec
Painted Post, NY

Friday, August 19, 2011

Good News

Governor Cuomo has asked five additional people to join the thirteen members of DEC Commissioner Joseph Martin’s advisory panel on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Three of the new members are, Chemung County Executive, Thomas Santulli, Robert Williams of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, and Brad Gill, executive director of the New York’s Independent Oil & Gas Association. SCLOC congratulates these new and very talented members. This is very good news for all pro- drilling advocates in the state. The panel which is comprised of a mix of industry, lawmakers, and conservationists, held its first meeting Thursday at the DEC’s headquarters.
Some Good News for SCLOC
Lately, there has been much interest in Steuben County’s Utica Shale formation (which lies below the Marcellus) by the gas and oil industry.

Until next week,


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Message from SCLOC member Lisa Robinson

Message body

The Woodhull Natural Gas Storage Committee held a meeting for landowners affected by the storage field in Woodhull, Rathbone, Tuscarora and Troupsburg on August 10, 2011. Talking points from the meeting presented by Aaron Mullen of The Snavely Law Firm included:

What happens next if Dominion is granted Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity?

How proceedings affect the landowners.

Potential extent of the taking of mineral rights.

Extent of Taking if mineral rights are not leased and property is in the Expansion Area.

Extent of Taking if mineral rights are leased and the property is inside the current storage area.

Why you should seek legal representation.

Benefits of Solidarity.

Reasons to move quickly.

Discussion of Legal Representation.

If any landowners missed the meeting or any landowners have further questions, you can contact any of the following Committee Members, John Crane at (607) 359-2190, Lisa Robinson at (607) 525-6329 or Terry Towner at (607) 359-2314. Aaron Mullen of The Snavely Law Firm may be contacted at (607) 937-5205.

New york getting it right

New York is finally getting it’s act together! The Manhattan Institute has stated that New York State had the distinction of losing the most state residents in the Nation, for the past two decades. New York has lost 1.6 million NY residents, the population equivalent of Buffalo, Rochester, White Plains and West Babylon combined. The latest poll taken states that the majority of New York State residents, now believe that gas drilling should be allowed in New York State. The coalitions in the Southern Tier can take some credit for getting the truth out about gas drilling. When the gas industry begins drilling in New York State, this two decade trend of population loss, will be reversed and tax revenue will be greatly increased for a State that desperately needs it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Energy in Depth-Guest Blogger-Michael Bengamin.

Gas Exploration Will Bring Jobs To NY

2011 July 26

tags: Benjamin, jobs, New York

by EID Guest Blogger

Michael Benjamin
Former Member of the NY State Assembly

When the New York State Legislature passed the hydraulic fracturing moratorium bill late last year, I drew a lot of flack for urging then-Governor David Paterson to veto the measure. Supporters of the moratorium raised the ghastly specter of contaminated water supplies and went as far as supporting a ban on all natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale and well beyond.

Paterson vetoed the measure but then issued an executive order instituting a moratorium on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. It was a head-scratching decision because drilling could not be permitted because the environmental regulations had yet to be drafted.

Because of my outspoken opposition to the hydraulic fracturing moratorium, I was invited, along with John Holko, president of Lenape Resources, onto a NY1 News debate with actor Mark Ruffalo and Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox. It was an enlightening experience fending off both men’s wild accusations about the perils of “fracking.”

Since leaving office last year, I have written op-ed essays and appeared on the radio extolling the benefits of natural gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale. The NY Post published my op-ed, Phony Fears on Fracking, where I refuted the hysteria about the threat allegedly posed by horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

The election of pro-business Governor Andrew Cuomo brought the opportunity for a change in state policy. When asked about his efforts to reduce state spending, keeping taxes low and reducing the state workforce, Cuomo replied, “I’m a progressive who’s broke.”

Just last month, Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) agreed that prohibiting gas exploration without any credible evidence of danger to the state’s water supply would not be in the best interest of our state’s economy. Cuomo has gone on to say that his focus over the next six months will be “jobs, jobs, jobs.” That is good news for the residents and local governments in the state’s Southern Tier.

The State DEC has reaffirmed that the New York City watershed, as well as that of other major New York cities, is off-limits to natural gas exploration. The DEC is and remains a national leader in regulations protecting New York’s environment.

The State DEC’s proposed draft regulations are evidence of its commitment to protecting the wells, aquifers, and potable water supplies of Southern Tier residents and their communities. Since the DEC will finalize its Draft regulations by year’s end, it is imperative that the US EPA conclude its study of horizontal hydraulic fracturing technology and its effect on the environment much sooner rather than mid-2012.

I was heartened to hear EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asserted before a Congressional panel that there is no credible evidence that horizontal hydraulic fracturing has contaminated the water supply.

Natural gas exploration is an economic necessity both for New York’s Southern Tier economy and for reducing our dependence on higher priced, out-of-state and foreign natural gas supplies. We know that over 20,000 good-paying jobs have been created just over the border in Pennsylvania and millions of dollars in taxes and fees were generated for the Pennsylvania state treasury.

The Public Policy Institute, the research arm of The Business Council of New York State, recently reported that as few as 300 natural gas wells per year in the Marcellus Shale could generate more than 37,500 annual jobs.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has invested $1 billion in New York State pension funds in companies involved in natural gas exploration. Apparently, Comptroller DiNapoli recognizes that gas exploration is a good investment and does not imperil the environment or our water quality.

Creating upwards of 37,000 good-paying jobs in upstate New York and generating millions of dollars in taxes and fees for our state treasury will reduce future deficits and ensure the success of Governor Cuomo’s approach to leaner, smarter government. Not to mention, guaranteeing state pensioners a positive return on Comptroller DiNapoli’s wise investment of public funds.

I feel vindicated in my steadfast belief that natural gas exploration will provide our State with thousands of desperately needed jobs, real property tax benefits and increased tax revenues in these tough economic times. Natural gas exploration and extraction in the Marcellus will trigger an economic multiplier effect that makes good on Cuomo’s recognition that “jobs, jobs, jobs” will lift the upstate economy.

After awhile, New York will no longer be a progressive state that’s broke. And we can thank Governor Cuomo and the Marcellus Shale for our improved fortune

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interesting article in NY Post

Gov. Cuomo's state Democratic Party chairman says, "Drill, baby, drill" when it comes to controversial "hydrofracking" to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation on the New York-Pennsylvania border.

And party leader Jay Jacobs, a successful summer-camp owner, has a financial interest in having the drilling take place -- although he insists that it has nothing to do with his support for the hotly contested activity.

Jacobs says he's signed a contract with, and received per-acre upfront money from, energy giant Hess Corp. to drill on some 140 acres of land at his Tyler Hill summer camp, just over the border from New York's Catskill Mountains.

Shannon DeCelle

FUEL FOR THOUGHT: As Albany weighs hydrofracking, Democratic boss Jay Jacobs already has a deal with Hess to drill at his Tyler Hill summer camp in Pennsylvania.

Jacobs, who annually hosts hundreds of kids at Tyler Hill and two other nearby Catskills camps in New York, called the risks from hydrofracking "minuscule."

While Jacobs told The Post he's never talked with Cuomo -- who will soon decide whether to give hydrofracking the go-ahead -- about the issue, he said his own study convinced him it's the right thing to do.

"Many things that we do in modern society have the potential to destroy the environment, and we can't stop doing everything because of minuscule risks. It's when those risks become significant that we have to stop," said Jacobs.

"My belief is if we can extract natural gas, which is a cleaner form of energy, from our land, reducing the import of foreign oil and the cash flowing out of our country, and make for cleaner air, improve the economy and not damage the water, I'm for it," Jacobs continued.

"We have to be rational here, not emotional. If it's going to destroy people's water, I'm against it, too. But I've been led to believe that there are definite ways if you do this right not to destroy the water."

Jacobs wouldn't disclose how much money he's received from Hess.

But he said he entered into a contract with the huge company only after insisting on "tough restrictions" that banned drilling during the camping season and from the immediate areas around the camp buildings and related facilities, including adjacent lakes.

Jacobs said one of his two Catskill camps wouldn't be eligible for gas drilling because it's in the New York City watershed area, which will be excluded from consideration.

He said gas companies haven't approached him about his other camp, although even if they do, he insisted he wouldn't sign a contract because of Cuomo's involvement.

"I want to underscore that I haven't done anything [on drilling] with my land in New York, so I don't want anyone to think I will benefit one way or another [from Cuomo's decision], Jacobs said.

"I've been very careful. I don't want anyone accusing me of benefiting financially from anything I did in New York."

State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens told Cuomo in a detailed report in July that the hydrofracking technique could be safely carried out in most areas of the Southern Tier, as long as strict regulatory oversight was imposed.

Drilling advocates, pointing to Pennsylvania, say it would generate tens of thousands of New York jobs in an economically depressed region and bring in billions in badly needed tax revenues over the next decade.

Opponents, led by major environmental organizations, claim hydrofracking could damage critical watershed areas, although no such damage has occurred in Pennsylvania or in other regions of the country where it's been used.

A 60-day public-comment period on the recommendation begins today, after which Cuomo will render a decision.