Friday, December 28, 2012
OnCue sells 3 million gallons of CNG Press Release – Thursday, November 29, 2012 In the last three years OnCue celebrated the opening of 13 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations across Oklahoma, but today the Stillwater-based fueling retailer celebrated a milestone of a different kind. OnCue announced that it had sold 3 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) of CNG – the most of any private fueling retailer in the state – and saved consumers more than $6 million in fueling costs compared to gasoline. For the natural gas market this milestone has national impact, representing a momentum shift from CNG as a fuel of the future, to a fuel of today. “I’ve been a believer in CNG for more than a decade, and reaching this milestone is representative of how fast the market is moving toward making this fuel mainstream,” said Jim Griffith, OnCue Chief Executive Officer. “As an Oklahoma-based company with an entrepreneurial history, we were in a strategic position to not only adopt this fuel, but quickly make CNG available to our customers across the state. CNG is an alternative fuel, but it’s an alternative that our customers increasingly prefer.” OnCue leadership celebrated the announcement with a special event at the company’s 23rd Street location in Oklahoma City. Customers, vendors and elected officials gathered to applaud OnCue’s CNG success. Governor Mary Fallin conducted a fill of the 3 millionth gallon into a state fleet vehicle. The fill of the state vehicle, coupled with the Oklahoma Capitol as a backdrop, further reinforced the governor’s commitment and leadership to increase demand for natural gas. Governor Fallin’s 22-state, bipartisan effort to increase natural gas vehicle use among state fleets helps ensure CNG customer growth for retailers like OnCue. “OnCue is just one more example of the Oklahoma innovation and leadership that is changing our country’s energy future,” said Governor Fallin. “Today’s 3 million gallon milestone is a reminder that demand for natural gas continues to grow and that the industry has a bright future ahead of it. That’s great news for American families, who are increasingly able to benefit from affordable, clean burning natural gas produced right here at home.” OnCue was among the first private Oklahoma fueling retailers to adopt CNG. Currently OnCue has the most CNG stations of any retailer in the state and expects to expand the company’s commitment to CNG in 2013. “For OnCue, selling CNG is more than market leadership, it’s a successful business strategy,” said Griffith. “With CNG we are able to offer our customers fuel at nearly half the price of gasoline and serve a more diverse customer base. We look forward to expanding our CNG offering to include more of our stores throughout Oklahoma.” In the past two years, the number of public CNG stations in Oklahoma has nearly tripled, making it now possible to drive across the entire state solely on CNG. Oklahoma serves as a model for how to develop alternative fueling infrastructure at the state level. For more information on CNG, visit www.cngnow.com. This article was first published by Press Release
Monday, December 3, 2012
Governor Cuomo: In the words of a recent book title - " What the (Bleep) just happened?" I've been telling my PAC members for months that you could be believed when you said "This issue will be decided based on science and reason not politics and emotion. That promise showed some realism, some common sense intelligence. It's taken longer than it should have for us to come to the realization that you have been gaming everyone who would gain from gas drilling in New York. Hydraulic fracturing is "safe" in every state sitting on top of a shale play - that is every state except New York! Assuming that all the scientists in all those states' departments of environmental protection are not corrupted, it becomes obvious that the issue is ruled by politics in New York - not science and reason as you promised. As Governor you have to be aware of all the benefits being experienced in all those other states. You have to be aware of the fact that none of those states have stopped drilling - in spite of all the imaginary "devastation" all the wing nuts keep screaming about. Is it remotely possible that you can't see what is happening in Pennsylvania and Ohio? Is it possible you are not aware of the environmental benefits - yes benefits- that are already resulting from increased use of natural gas? Is it possible you are not aware of the huge tax revenue benefits that our towns, counties, and school districts would receive under Title V of our tax code? All the economics, science, and history overwhelmingly supports gas drilling. It has become obvious to many of us here in the Southern Tier that our governor has cast our interests to the wind, and decided that the environmental lobby is more important.Hollywood activists are more important than the "working stiffs" who live, and struggle, here in the Southern Tier. In fact we have no choice but to feel that you totally double-crossed us. You have crushed our interests, and our futures, in spite of your promise that science and reason would rule this issue. Science and reason have no role to play in Albany. It's all, purely, politics as usual! Jeff Heller 9565 Munson Road Bradford, N.Y. 14815 607-583-7820 President Steuben County Landowners Coalition (Representing over 205,120 acres in Steuben alone - including approximately 1700 families families - at least 6000 votes
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Will try to keep this short... I have sent emails asking you to contact Governor Cuomo and DEC. We have to continue to let our voice be heard. This morning I called Governor Cuomo, DEC, Tom Reed and Tom O'Mara...Reed's and O'Mara's office urged me to continue to call...they said it is so important for our voice to be heard... Normally, I am pretty calm, but was upset today by what appears to be another delay... and I told Cuomo's office and DEC that in a firm and forceful manner...didn't holler, didn't swear, just told them we (the farmers and landowners) are very upset by yet another delay...other points I touched on: enough is enough we are being lied to Gov. Cuomo doesn't care about the landowers Don't begrudge other people getting help, but he helps everyone and then ignores us we pay taxes & now are rights are taken away from us we care about our water other states are fracking and we should be Look at ND with a 1.3 billion dollar surplus, Hello, New York Told them this was America not Russia Told her how much I just paid in taxes & now don't have my rights etc. etc...you get the point...add your personal touch DEC said there is another delay...I told her to tell her superiors that was not acceptable...she said that's what we know...I said while make sure you tell them it is not acceptable... Anyone can call...just take this email and touch on a couple items...be forceful...let them know you are upset...a few weeks ago, I asked an older lady in Lindley to call...she never had done anything like that and wasn't sure what to say...told her there is nothing to be afraid of, just state your point...she started called and was calling every day...YOU CAN DO THIS AND YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS CAN DO IT! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CALL TODAY!! IT IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO IMPORTANT!! WE CANNOT SIT BACK AND BE IDLE CAUSE FIRST IT'S OUR LAND RIGHTS, THEN OUR GUNS, THEN.... IF YOU ARE HESTIATE, EMAIL ME, I WILL WALK YOU THROUGH IT...THREE YEARS AGO I COULD NOT DO THIS...NOW I DON'T HESITATE A MOMENT... DEC 518-402-8545 GOVERNOR CUOMO 518-474-8390 ALSO, COPY OFF A GOOD LETTER FOR GAS DRILLING OR CUT OUT A GOOD LETTER LIKE NEIL'S FROM THE PAPER...ADD A NOTE, SIGN IT AND SEND IT GOVERNOR CUOMO... THE HONORABLE ANDREW M. CUOMO GOVERNOR OF NY STATE NYSTATE CAPITOL BUILDING ALBANY, NY 12224 PLEASE, PLEASE JUST DO IT TODAY AND EVERY FEW DAYS UNTIL THIS IS PASSED IN NEW YORK!! Karen Ballard
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
JLCNY Letter to the governor and head of DEC November 20, 2012 Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor, New York State Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol Albany, New York 12224 Commissioner Joseph Martens Department of Environmental Conservation 625 Broadway, 14th Floor Albany, NY 12233-1010 Dear Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens: On behalf of the Joint Landowner s Coalition of New York (JLCNY), I am writing to express our strong disappointment in your recent comments that the release of the final draft SGEIS and the corresponding regulations will be extended beyond November 29, 2012. The JLCNY has supported and continues to support best environmental practices concerning natural gas development, but fails to see the purpose, or benefit, of yet another delay. As you have said, reliable available science and studies should guide us in a straightforward simple review of health impacts related to the proposed safeguards defined by the DEC in its SGEIS. To extend the process beyond November 29, 2012 is an insult to the tremendous efforts of your DEC experts, taxpayers and all of us who have strived diligently to contribute reliably to this over four year process. The JLCNY representing 77,000 New York landowners have been active and substantive contributors to the dialogue for careful development over the past four years. Our families and friends are physically the closest to the potential impacts of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) and have the utmost responsibility to inform ourselves and our government about HVHF. Our self-interest is in protecting our generations-old properties, our families’ health, communities and our basic economic and property rights. Our organization has advanced numerous constructive recommendations to require better handling of produced water at the well site, to include reduced air emission “green” completions, to require repair to surface disruptions and other tangible improvements to protect community impacts. We want to ensure that New York is at the forefront of the safeguards for natural gas development. We recognize that natural gas will power our economies, lead to more affordable energy options and have positive environmental impacts on air quality and greenhouse gasses. On air emissions, states and the Federal government (US Environmental Protection Agency) have already done substantial work on health issues. For example, on April 17, 2012, the EPA issued regulations to reduce air pollution from the oil and gas industry. “A key component of the final rule is expected to yield a 95 percent reduction in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) emitted from more than 11,000 new hydraulically fractured wells each year. This significant reduction would be accomplished primarily through the use of a proven process – known as a “reduced emission completion” or “green completion” – to capture natural gas the currently escapes to the air” (EPA OVERVIEW OF FINAL AMENDMENTS TO AIR REGULATIONS FOR THE OIL AND NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY). We also refer you to important activities at the state level. In Colorado, “The EPA’s approval of the Regional Haze Plan is a ringing endorsement of a comprehensive and collaborative effort between many different groups," Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper said. "Colorado’s utilities, environmental community, oil and gas industry, health advocates and regulators all came together to address air quality. We embrace this success as a model for continuing to balance economic growth with wise public policy that protects community health and our environmental values.” The plan implements sweeping public health and environmental protections by reducing pollution through emissions controls, retiring coal-fired power plants and converting certain electric generating units from coal to cleaner burning natural gas. (Press Release, Office of the Governor of Colorado, September 11, 2012 http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/GovHickenlooper/CBON/1251630618478) In the JLCNY’s comprehensive comments to the SGEIS submitted in January, we recommended that the NYSDEC petition the New York State Public Service Commission to allow pipelines to be installed so that natural gas completions at well sites could be conducted as reduced emission completions. To review air emission impacts, we would encourage turning attention to a review of existing expert studies concerning air pollution from natural gas development, such as the “City of Fort Worth Natural Gas Air Quality Study: Final Report” published July 13, 2011. This report is the most useful because it reviews an area with both a high population density and extensive natural gas development with hydraulic fracturing. Please see the attached Appendix 1 for key language from the “Conclusions and Recommendations” portion of the final report. We also recommend that you review the Health Watch by the Australian Institute of Petroleum Health Surveillance Twelfth Report from the University of Adelaide Department of Public Health. This report follows workers in the oil and gas industry for decades and compares their health and mortality with the general population. While the JLCNY works to provide constructive solutions, paid professional activists are increasingly targeting everything related to energy, even natural gas pipeline projects and elements essential to powering job creating factories, reducing school and consumer heating costs, and firing power plants to serve major load demands as called for under the Governor’s Energy Highway Blueprint just released. The activists have been offering good paying compensation packages to hire obstructionists from Long Island to Buffalo and all metro areas to halt all energy related development (see Food & Watch announcements; Appendix 2). Continued delay only empowers these paid professional activists whose goals are to stall shale gas drilling and all forms of progress to build a viable energy infrastructure. Our message is simple and clear. We respect the State’s need to be diligent in its efforts. We also recognize that it is our obligation to contribute constructively to our self-government with reliable and well considered information. After four years of analysis and preparation, there is no need to be influenced by paid professional activists. Health issues associated with natural gas development have been studied. We, as neighbors to potential well sites, appreciate the need to ensure that health and safety concerns are appropriately addressed. We have actively researched scientific studies, facts, and real life development to assure the best practices are observed. The JLCNY continues to support best management practices on all aspects of natural gas development, including closed loop drilling, use of steel tanks to contain flowback, multiple pipe casings cemented to the surface, GPS units on trucks, stormwater pollution prevention plans, spill containment personnel on site, reduced emission completions, and meeting all present and future air quality regulations. Stable and affordable energy is essential for those desperately seeking a better future like seniors struggling to heat their homes, families striving to educate their children and keep them close to home, urban cities looking to produce power while reducing air emissions, small businesses struggling to attract new consumers and growth industries looking to innovate and expand across the State. Our members listened carefully to your promise that sound science and the facts, not baseless scare tactics and politics, would govern this process. Delay beyond the November 29, 2012 despite having considered over 80,000 comments, is a breach of faith in our government and flies in the face of the promise that New York is beyond its dysfunction and truly open for new business investment. We urge you to be guided by the important existing science and evidence captured by the experts within your agencies and to proceed without further delay. Respectfully, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc. Dan Fitzsimmons, President cc: Commissioner Shah
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Albany: Stop Discriminating Against New York State’s Farmers! For nearly five years all three branches of the New York State government have discriminated against New York’s farmers. The majority of state employees in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches have a prejudice against the petroleum industry and fossil fuels in general. This prejudice has been shown in the form of a moratorium on gas and oil permits on land owned by farmers in New York. This discrimination has caused many farmers and the small businesses that support them to go out of business in New York. Look at what is happening to New York’s farming community in the southern tier. These farmers pay the highest property taxes in the country and are not able to take advantage of the abundant natural gas in the Marcellus Shale under their farms. In the northern tier of Pennsylvania, there has been an economic renaissance in the farming community, because the government in Harrisburg is not prejudiced against fossil fuels and does not discriminate against its farmers! Why is this discrimination against New York farmers occurring in Albany? Prejudices are based on a lack of knowledge and understanding of an issue. Horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing is a very technical and scientific process that was developed by scientists and engineers. The decision-makers in Albany are mostly lawyers and few have any real knowledge of science and technology. The governor keeps using the excuse that science has yet to determine this issue, even though the science has always supported this industrial process. The Governor could have received an actual science or engineering degree during these five years of delay! Green energy and climate change is another issue that is confusing our lawyer-leaders in Albany. Nothing will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by fifty percent faster than the conversion from terrorism-supporting Middle East oil to American produced natural gas. This will produce millions of family-supporting jobs and help with our nation’s overdue economic recovery. The science behind horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing has been proven years ago. It can be done safely. There are twenty-eight states that are performing this exact type of drilling in shale plays. This has been occurring in many of these states for over fifteen years. Not one governor, legislative body, attorney general, regulatory agency in those state or federal agency in the US, has ever asked the drilling industry to stop! New York State has always been a leader against discrimination in the past. New York assumed leadership roles for women’s suffrage, civil rights and marriage equality. It’s time for Albany to stop discriminating against the two most important economic sectors of Upstate New York. Agriculture and the petroleum industry have worked together harmoniously for over one hundred years for the benefit of the state and country. Free them from Albany’s discrimination and they will lead us to the economic recovery that we all hope for. Neil Vitale Steuben County Organic Dairy Farmer
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
We have the answer to the tax issues and jobs in the southern tier, it is under our feet, and the governor is not helping landowners and municipalities harvest it either. JLCpulse!- Written by Joseph Spector Albany Bureau Chief in Pressconnects.com ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered little sympathy Monday for the plight of local governments, saying they need to do what the state government did: solve their own fiscal problems. He defended the property-tax cap and said it has successfully limited property taxes in a state with among the highest taxes in the nation. The cap limits growth in property taxes to 2 percent a year, or it can be overrode by local boards or by voters on school budgets. "You can only spend that which you take in. That’s life," Cuomo told reporters. "That’s everybody’s kitchen table. You have a pay check; you can’t spend more than the paycheck. Well, I want to. But you really can’t, and for many years, they went right back to the taxpayer." Local governments, particularly counties and cities, have been pressing the Democratic governor to enact more relief from state-mandated programs. In a report last week, counties said they face a "formula for failure." Under the property-tax cap, they would only be able to collect $114 million in new revenue next year -- leaving a gap of $130 million. The 57 counties outside New York City are preparing their budgets for the fiscal year that starts Jan. 1. Cuomo said the state this year enacted substantial mandate relief: a cap on the growth in local Medicaid costs for counties and a new, less generous pension tier -- the two biggest cost drivers for local governments. Last year, Cuomo said he closed a $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes and spending. Cuomo suggested there wasn’t much more coming to help local governments in his budget next year, which is due out in mid-January. He said they should consider consolidations, pointing out that New York has more than 10,500 taxing entities. "It’s not called a mandate-relief cap. That’s not what it is," Cuomo said. "It’s a tax cap, and it worked very well because taxes aren’t going up unless the people want them to go up."
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
T. Boone Pickens, the architect of The Pickens Plan to achieve greater energy security in the U.S., released the following statement on the energy comments by Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama during last night's second presidential debate: "After four long years of helping candidates and public officials understand the importance of energy as a domestic issue, an environmental issue and a national security issue, President Obama and Governor Romney finally gave us a spirited debate on their views on the subject. "There will be dozens of so-called energy experts providing fact-checking on their respective comments. That will be a healthy debate in and of itself. "President Obama had the first opportunity to go into detail and stressed the importance of American natural gas to reducing our reliance on imported oil. Mitt Romney also supported this approach and I thought he demonstrated a deeper understanding of energy by pointing out that replacing imported oil with domestic fuels would - and should - create a major positive contribution to our economy and create jobs. Another bright spot was his call for a North American Energy Alliance. That can be a critical element of a national energy strategy going forward. "I like that President Obama highlighted the importance of developing renewable energy, but think he oversold what they will do to address the OPEC oil threat. Two-thirds of our oil use is tied to transportation, and wind and solar are power generation fuels. They won't move 18-wheelers. They are an important part of the future, but we need a bridge to get us there by reducing oil imports now. "I am hopeful that as the candidates hit the campaign trail for the final three-week sprint they will continue to talk about energy - and especially our vast natural gas reserves that are the only fuel which can substitute for imported diesel to push our 8.5 million 18-wheelers. "The final debate next Monday, October 22, will focus on foreign policy. I am hopeful the two candidates will connect the dots and reinforce for the American public how closely our foreign and military policies and presence are tied to our Middle East oil dependence. Once you get the 8.5 million trucks and fleet vehicles on domestic natural gas, you have an option to rethink your Middle East foreign policies. "The good news is that both candidates highlighted the role that our expanding domestic crude oil and natural gas reserves can play in enhancing our energy security and moving us off OPEC oil. Now let's look for specific plans and solutions on how to get there. "Remember, a plan without action isn't a plan, it's a speech."
Thursday, October 4, 2012
VIEW & OUTLOOK October 3, 2012 Cuomo's De-Fracking New York's Governor favors rich greens over the upstate poor. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fancies himself Presidential material, but he isn't helping his 2016 credentials with his pusillanimity on natural gas fracking. A state moratorium has blocked hydraulic fracturing since 2010, but a four-year environmental review was supposed to pay off with new rules to allow drilling this November. The Cuomo Administration has instead announced it will restart the process, with more studies, more hearings and more years of delay. Put another way, the man who would be President is ducking the premier energy debate of our time. Green elites have made fracking their bête noire, and they've more or less ordered Mr. Cuomo not to move ahead with drilling in even a few upstate counties. The Governor knows this would cost jobs and investment, so he's taken the brave stance of cueing the bureaucrats and deciding not to decide. This is a giant loss for New York, which holds an estimated 20% of the reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation. A 2011 Manhattan Institute study estimates that the typical Marcellus well generates more than $5 million in economic benefits and $2 million in tax revenue. If fracking were allowed, the study notes New York would already be on its way to creating more than $11 billion in economic output and more than 15,000 jobs by 2020. That's already happening in neighboring Ohio and Pennsylvania. The shale bonanza is also sparking a surge in manufacturing investment to exploit cheaper energy. Egypt's Orascom Construction announced last month it plans to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant in Iowa, while Dow Chemical in April announced a $1.7 billion ethylene production plant in Texas—all thanks to shale gas. Upstate New York desperately needs this economic jump-start. The New York Department of Labor's September jobs statistics showed that the 52-county upstate region's private jobs growth rate over the past year was less than half (0.9%) the downstate rate (2.3%), and one-third of New York City's (2.9%). Yet Big Apple elites—and apparently Mr. Cuomo—prefer to keep upstate in pastoral poverty for their second homes and antique shops. Mr. Cuomo says further study will produce better rules to ward off a legal challenge. Yet the Governor knows that the green left will sue to block anything he proposes, and the sooner that process begins, the sooner it ends. Our sources say Mr. Cuomo wants the political cover of a big investment commitment from a big gas driller. Yet New York's first draft regulations, issued earlier this year, were so stringent that many producers doubt they could turn a profit. Mr. Cuomo could learn from former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat who understood that the economic benefit was worth taking grief from the left. Even President Obama is trying, for re-election purposes, to take credit for the natural gas boom he's had nothing to do with. Mr. Cuomo has bent to the left on a big tax increase, caved to unions on education reform and pensions, and given cultural liberals their top priority of gay marriage. His fracking delay is a gift to the green lobby, which hopes to forestall drilling long enough to enable a second Obama Administration to complete a federal regulatory takeover that makes fracking far more costly and ends the boom. The question for Mr. Cuomo is what has he done for New York's economy? If Mr. Cuomo wants to kill fracking, he should kill it. Otherwise, he owes it to his state to give it the opportunity to build a new future with the shale boom. That would at least give Mr. Cuomo the credibility to run as a Democratic jobs candidate in 2016. Right now he's the Democratic nothing candidate. A version of this article appeared October 4, 2012, on page A24 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Cuomo's De-Fracking.
Monday, October 1, 2012
There is a serious movement in N.Y. State in the direction of taking control of mineral rights away from the land owners. They would place them in the hands of the state, or, more directly as far as gas rights are concerned, town boards. In many cases these losses of mineral rights go far beyond gas rights. With town limits on truck weights many have already removed your rights to sell your timber. Will these limits apply to milk trucks? Loaded hay wagons? Loads of cement, gravel, dirt? These people who are taking your gas rights now may say all this is foolish. Four years ago the idea that they would, or could, take our gas rights was foolish!! It doesn’t look so foolish now does it? You must also understand that the loss of gas rights is only the first step. The Land Owners Coalitions from across the state will be taking part in a rally in Albany on October 15. We will be able to provide comfortable bus transportation for anyone from our area who wants to go. We cannot stress enough how important this trip is to YOUR interests. Almost all the “noise” in Albany has been from the Antis. Now it’s our turn! We are hoping this will be the largest rally that Albany has EVER seen. Besides land owners anyone who has an interest in gas drilling is going to be there. This will include, but is not limited to: tax payer groups, job seekers, Farm Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, trade unions, economic development agencies, industry, businesses, - anyone with gas drilling interests!! We can all make up excuses not to take a day off for an event like this. But this letter is an appeal to everyone of you to understand that “ IT’S NOW OR NEVER”! Stand up for your rights now - or lose them!! It’s that simple. We have to take one day, one day in five years, to tell Albany and everyone else that we do value our land owners rights. Those of us in the Coalition who have been fighting these antis for almost five years now, have done all we can to protect your rights and your interests. Many of us have hundreds, and in a few cases thousands, of hours in this fight. Now it’s time for all our landowners to prove that they value their mineral rights. Join us on October 15! To sign up for the bus trip you can go to scloc.com and sign up there. You can also call any of the people listed below to make your reservations. Jeff Heller SCLOC Jeff and Kathy Heller Bradford 607-583-7820 Karen and David Ballard Lindley 607-523-7246 Neil Vitale Woodhull 607-525-6482 Dana Knowles Campbell 607-527-3260 Peter Olausson Addison 607-359-3069 Linda Knowles Thurston 607-527-4554
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
As the Sikorsky Aircraft company is saying goodbye to the Southern Tier community of Big Flats (they are consolidating their operations in Florida) supporters of hydrofracking are saying the departure is the latest sign that gas drilling is needed to revive the economy of this struggling area. Here’s a statement from Karen Moreau, executive director of the state Petroleum Council on the looming shut-down and loss of 570 jobs: “If Albany needed a wakeup call about the sagging economy in the Southern Tier, today’s announcement from Sikorsky should do the trick. But a wakeup call is not enough; it must be a call to action. We know the answer to creating jobs and opportunity in the Southern Tier. We know what will allow young adults to stay in their communities and not have to move out of state for work. We know what will help bolster housing prices, and allow those who rely on this major investment for their retirement plans to realize their dreams. “The Marcellus Shale offers tremendous opportunities to create jobs and lift up entire communities, and we know that we can the extract natural gas in a safe and responsible manner. We know it because it’s happening across the country and right over the border in Pennsylvania. The State must move forward with hydraulic fracturing in a timely manner. To do otherwise is tantamount to turning your back on the Southern Tier.”
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
New York Daily News Sunday, September 23, 2012, 4:10 AM Studying connection between fracking and syphilis would be a waste of time In their desperation to block Gov. Cuomo from giving the okay for fracking in New York, die-hard opponents of the natural gas drilling technology are floating laugh-out-loud-funny health and environmental threats. Most hilariously, the enviro-activists have demanded that state officials explore an alleged link between fracking and — we kid you not — syphilis. They argue that a drilling boom would draw an influx of male workers from other states who would engage in activities of a kind that would spread sexually transmitted diseases. They also contend that a boom would trigger a housing crunch, adding to homelessness and the health ailments that go along with it. And that increased truck traffic would not only lead to more road fatalities, but would also — again, no kidding — discourage people from getting the outdoor exercise they need to stay fit. This is absurd. If New York starts saying no to entire industries on the grounds they might trigger population changes, rising home prices and truck traffic, it might as well turn out the lights. Have the people pushing these theories considered the health effects of unemployment and poverty — which are all too common in the parts of New York targeted for drilling? Have they forgotten the public health upsides of harvesting natural gas — which burns far more cleanly than other fossil fuels? What fracking opponents really want is not a study of imagined risks, but many more months of wheel-spinning in Albany — and additional fodder for litigation. Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, involves pumping millions of gallons of chemical-laced water deep into the earth at high pressure to release trapped natural gas. For four years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has analyzed the extent of true health concerns, such as the potential for air and water pollution. As a result, the DEC has proposed what everyone acknowledges are some of the tightest regulations in the nation — including an absolute ban on drilling in the entire region surrounding New York City’s reservoirs. The opponents tried to push DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens into hiring a public health consultant to check out the danger of venereal diseases and all the rest. Smartly, he went only so far as to ask Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to review whether DEC has appropriately considered health concerns. If faux seriousness is what it takes to head off lawsuits, so be it. Stifling laughter is a small price to pay for progress toward fracking approval.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Dimock – Why Wouldn’t Anyone Listen? For those seeking the information, potential motive and facts about the Dimock Episodes, this is an informative article providing a more intimate view of the events from a local perspective. It would be safe to say, it is about the money, sadly it is always about the money. What does that say about NY politics? JLCpulse. By Jim Grimsley and Ann VanLenten of Dimock Proud Website Dimock Township Landowners Jim and I are residents of Dimock Township in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. We would like everyone to know how the “DIMOCK” horror began and how it has evolved. Following is the TRUTH as it happened. January 1, 2009 – There was an incident of a buildup of methane in an underground pit that housed Norma Fiorentino’s water well in Dimock, PA. That methane buildup resulted in a sudden explosion causing the concrete cover, of the water well pit, to break. Immediately, newspapers across the nation published the news of the “explosion due to natural gas drilling”. THE TRUTH THAT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED: The concrete slab that covered the water well was brand new (previously, there were old wooden slats covering the well). It was a newly poured concrete slab that was tightly covered with a tarp (to help cure the new concrete since the outdoor mean temperature was only 12oF that day). The explosion was caused by an electrical spark triggered by the well pump pressure switch. The pressure switch was inside the water well pit (under the concrete slab). This incident was the beginning of the legal battle between 18 families and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and the beginning of anti-drilling groups coming to Dimock and, unfortunately the beginning of the destruction of the good name and reputation of the Township of Dimock and its inhabitants. QUOTE FROM LAWSUIT: “An explosion was caused to occur in an outside, below-grade water well pit on or about January 1, 2009 on the property of Plaintiff, NORMA FIORENTINO, causally related to accumulation of evaporated methane gas in her wellhead”. Sorry, but the facts bear out that the explosion was caused to occur due to a change made by the landowner. Most people know that a water well pit must be vented. In this case, the well pit was tightly sealed and as a result the migrating methane was trapped inside the pit. Methane gas accumulated until it reached an explosive level in Ms. Fiorentino’s unventilated/ confined space. Hence – the explosion. Neither, Ms. Fiorentino nor her lawyers, have ever mentioned the facts leading up to the explosion but rather blamed Cabot Oil & Gas for it. We call this “lying by omission.” This lie was compounded by many other lies, half-truths, misinformation, and exaggerations by the Dimock litigants. It seemed that every week another accusation and abomination was added to the Dimock litigants’ story. Videos, interviews and anti-gas rallies mushroomed out of this one incident. Scare tactics were utilized and the general public was overcome with fear for themselves and sympathy for these 18 families. The reason we have gone to such great lengths of detail regarding the explosion that started this whole issue is – the truth lies in the detail. One must know all the facts before one can come to a logical conclusion about anything. NOVEMBER 20, 2009 – Press Conference Announcing Dimock Lawsuit ; 15 families vs Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. (More families jumped on board later.) THE TRUTH THAT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED: The lawsuit was not just about contaminated water. The litigants wanted to be released from their signed lease agreements and be able to renegotiate a sign-on bonus that conformed to those that were signed by land owners years later – at up to 200 times greater dollar amounts (not 200%) – at $5,000 an acre or better; including a higher royalty percentage than 12.5%. QUOTE FROM LAWSUIT: In order to obtain the legal right to drill on Plaintiffs’ property, and extract natural gas from Plaintiffs’ property, Cabot obtained from each of the Plaintiffs an executed oil and gas lease agreement and addendum thereto (hereinafter referred to as “gas lease”). Each gas lease was solicited by a representative of Cabot who came to each of the Plaintiffs’ homes, unannounced, commencing in 2006. The gas leases were not negotiated at “arm’s length”. JANUARY 19, 2012 – At the request of 11 residents, the EPA announced it would perform water sampling at approximately 60 homes in the Carter Road/Meshoppen Creek Road area of Dimock, PA to further assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances that cause health concerns. MARCH 15, 2012 – 1st Set of EPA Water Tests – 11 wells – water is safe to drink. APRIL 6, 2012 – 2nd Set of EPA Water Tests – 20 wells – water is safe to drink. APRIL 20, 2012 – 3rd Set of EPA Water Tests – 16 wells – water is safe to drink. MAY 11, 2012 – 4th Set of EPA Water Tests – 12 wells – water is safe to drink. JULY 25, 2012 - In Final Action EPA Declares Dimock Water Safe. “PITTSBURGH (AP) — July 25, 2012 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it has completed tests on drinking water in the northeastern Pennsylvania village of Dimock and has determined it is safe to drink, despite the claims of some residents who say it has been polluted by gas drilling.” And still this handful of families living on or near Carter Road, in Dimock Township, claimed to have been abandoned by: •Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (while testing the litigants’ water and attempting methane migration remedies the litigants promptly stopped Cabot personnel from entering their properties, disconnected the water treatment systems, and demanded potable water be delivered to their homes); •their neighbors (we quashed the plan to use public financing to build a waterline costing $11.8 million that would span 12.5-miles to supply municipal water to 18 familes in Dimock); •their Township (we told Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan to go home – we don’t need his water); •the PA Department of Environmental Protection (who mandated Cabot to deliver potable water to 11 homes while the DEP tested their water and reviewed Cabot’s test results; and finally; •the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (who tested and retested their water and came up with the same results as the PA DEP and Cabot – The water is fine). Concurrently, while everyone was awaiting the final EPA results, the lawsuit against Cabot was quietly being settled out of court. We believe the private settlement was reached in June 2012. Among others, the loudest, most vulgar, and most visible litigants (Craig and Julia Sautner) settled with Cabot. August 2012 – The Sautners sold their house, with 3 acres, in Dimock for $167,500. August 21, 2012 – The Sautners bought a house, with 36.01 acres, in Berkshire, NY for $212,500. Their new home has a private water well and guess what !!!! Their home is fueled by NATURAL GAS! The property also includes transfer of a mineral, oil and gas lease held by Talisman Energy U.S.A. Corporation. Isn’t that a kick. Now tell me – if you truly suffered with health issues due to contaminated water caused by gas drilling, would you ever again buy property with a gas lease???? Of course not. So much for Craig & Julia the environmentalists. They appeared on TV, at NY town meetings, anywhere and everywhere on the internet, saturating the media with their outrageous claims until they got what they wanted – their big payday – leaving turmoil and chaos behind and we have to clean up their mess. The so-called Anti-Fracking Groups must feel like fools for believing the Sautner saga. I hope someone tells them that their poster children have defected. The reputation of the Town of Dimock has been put through the ringer by the Sautners and the rest of their crew. We’ve been harassed, belittled, blamed, verbally abused, etc. (see dimockproud.com for verification). We kept saying that the litigants were keeping their lawsuit alive in the “court of public opinion,” but no one would listen to – or believe us. Good luck to the Town of Berkshire (especially the neighbors around 458 Ford Hill Road) and to Talisman Energy U.S.A. Corporation. Thank you for the opportunity to speak out. Most websites or newspapers do not extend that courtesy because our story is nothing more than the truth and the simple truth does not ordinarily make the headlines – We’re still asking ourselves: Why wouldn’t anyone listen?
Thursday, September 13, 2012
O'Mara: It's Time For D.E.C. To Make Fracking Decision Reported by: Bobby Brooks Published: 9/12 Elmira, N.Y. - One New York Senator says its time for New York State to make a decision on fracking. Senator Tom O'mara says it would be huge for New York to see the kind of revenue Pennsylvania is from gas drilling. O'mara says politicians have been waiting for the D.E.C.’s report on the effects of fracking for four years now. He says it's time a decision is made so the appropriate steps can be taken to make sure fracking can be done safely to benefit New Yorkers. O’Mara said, “We've been fortunate in Elmira and Horseheads along the Pennsylvania border to be able to serve the industry. That's why we've seen several thousand jobs in the Horseheads area, particularly Schlumberger. I can only see more jobs coming as we move forward.” O'Mara says the only negative impacts he'd see from the gas industry coming are a possible housing shortage or damaged roads. But as a result that would spark new construction for homes and apartments and most municipalities will charge gas companies a fee to repair any damaged roads
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Dear Friends, Coalition Leaders, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters, We are facing some of the most difficult days of our four-year fight to protect our rights and to begin natural gas development in NY. We have worked ourselves to the bone and sacrificed so much over the last four years. We held our breath, waiting for Governor Cuomo to keep his word to release the SGEIS by the end of the summer -- by Labor Day -- etc. Despite positive comments from our leaders in Albany, we are still in a torturous waiting game. Here is a quick summary of what the JLCNY is doing and what is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL that you do -- keep doing -- and don't quit: · We have launched a massive call in campaign to the Governor and key legislators – it’s working! · We have written a powerful letter to the Governor and asked others such as a group of town Supervisors and the Greater Binghamton Chamber to do so as well. Those letters are attached for your review. · We have intensified our efforts in Albany to keep the pressure on the Governor and our Legislature. · We are working with top national and NY reporters to make sure they understand the issues, to get them to look past the misinformation, and to understand how this Hollywood inspired debate is hurting real people. · We are working on participating in two ad campaigns to counter the opposition and to keep the truth front and center. Here's what we need YOU TO DO: · CALL the Governor and the Legislators below. You should be calling every one of these numbers every single day -- and emailing if you have access to the Internet. We hear it is making a difference. Governor Cuomo 518 474 8390 http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php Senator Bonacic 845 344 3311 firstname.lastname@example.org Senator Skelos 518 455 3171 email@example.com Senator Libous 877 854 2687 firstname.lastname@example.org Senator Seward 607 432 5524 email@example.com Senator Maziarz 716 434 0680 firstname.lastname@example.org Senator O’Mara 607 776 3201 email@example.com · Your Message: No More Delays -- We Need Natural Gas Development NOW. Governor Cuomo and the DEC have assured us that the SGEIS would be released this summer. It is crucial that the Governor direct the DEC to move forward now. Continued delay will thrust the release of the SGEIS into an even more heated political debate which is what the Governor had hoped to avoid. Natural Gas Development is supported by national and state leaders including President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg. Our members and communities are facing dire circumstances. They cannot hold on much longer. Continued delay will cause economic and employment opportunities to go to Pennsylvania . A delay will only serve to empower opponents. · Encourage everyone you can to call and email as well. · DON'T lose faith in our effort. We haven't gone through this exhausting, heart-wrenching journey to quit now. · Realize that our greatest strength is OUR UNITY and our numbers. Don't let anyone divide us. We are strongest as an independent, landowner organization. Thank you for your faith and your fortitude. We will see this journey through. We will win. But we have to stay together and we have to rise up. Stay strong. Make your calls and then make them again. All the best, Dan Fitzsimmons, President Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc. DF/ Attachments JLC Ltr to Gov Cuomo 090512 final.pdf Chamber Letter to Gov Cuomo 8 12 pdf.pdf Supervisorletter Final.pdf Download All
Sunday, September 2, 2012
Dear Governor Cuomo – Please Save Us with Natural Gas 2012 September 2 tags: Cuomo, economy, Natural Gas, New York, sullivan county by EID Guest Blogger . Sondra Bauernfeind Retired Schoolteacher, Sullivan County, New York The following is a letter I recently sent our Governor, Andrew Cuomo in an appeal for action to address Sullivan County, New York’s long pressing economic development crisis. I offer it in the hope others will also write him and share their sentiments as well. The time for action on our economic crisis is now and the remedy is right before our eyes – natural gas. Please review and write a letter of your own. Dear Gov. Cuomo: Sullivan County is facing a possible 27% increase in the county tax levy. The real unemployment rate is around 20%. Many people are holding down two or three part-time jobs because there are not enough full-time jobs to generate a living wage. Sullivan County is at the top of the poverty list – 61st out of 62 counties. Our infant mortality is the highest in the State of New York. According to a Times-Herald Record article, 40% of the Sullivan County school children are on assisted school breakfast and lunch programs. The number of people who are now on the food-stamp program is increasing every day with the cost of food escalating so that these food-stamps are lasting only about two weeks. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Sullivan County is hurting and the people of Sullivan County are hurting. But, the solution is buried beneath the layers of earth and rock in the Marcellus Shale region that lies within the western end of Sullivan County. Delaying development and the opportunity to harvest this natural gas resource will increase the suffering and mental and emotional anguish of those landowners who are barely hanging on to their property due to the lack of any means to earn a living wage. This fall, there were 357 parcels of property which went under the foreclosure gavel of the tax sale…. some houses…. someone’s home… assessed for over $250,000,00…. large tracts of land over 30 acres or more…. all because the owners could not pay their taxes. The shame of it is that the State of New York is still denying land owners the God-given right to use their property to generate the income which may have saved their very property . Exploration and development of natural gas and oil has been conducted in New York State since the1850′s. New York City has been using natural gas for heating and cooking for over 200 years. Natural gas has been powering the vehicles such as city buses and taxis for over half a century or more. Many private companies have been using natural gas as a fuel for their vehicles …. Verizon, NYSEG, Federal Express to name just a few. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel as the fossil fuels go. CH4 + O2 = CO2 + H2O…. methane (which is natural gas) + oxygen = carbon dioxide + water. The carbon dioxide, which is a product of respiration and burning, is very necessary to green plants as these plants take in carbon dioxide in the process of photosynthesis to make food for animals (including humans). This is the wonderful cycle of life. Delaying permission to harvest the natural resource of natural gas in New York State is to ignore the scientific studies conducted by the EPA in finding that hydraulic fracturing is a safe process as long as it is done properly. The fears of those who suggest otherwise. are like saying that automobiles should be banned because there are accidents involving automobiles. If the rules are followed and safety precautions are followed driving an automobile is safe.So , too, the drilling for natural gas is safe as long as the proper procedures are followed . The regulations developed by the DEC are the most comprehensive of any state. There is no way that any regulation can eliminate human error, but if the rules are followed, the possibility of error is curtailed. To ignore a valuable natural resource which has been harvested by neighboring states because of the fear factor being promoted by the anti-gas forces is to fall prey to the lies perpetrated by these forces. After attending meetings at which the pitch is made to “go green” and then to be subjected to a sales pitch for purchasing solar panels or wind turbines at prices that necessitate taking out a huge loan for a period of over 10 or more years, I have come to the conclusion this is simply an interference of free trade and preventing one industry to conduct business so another industry can have the advantage. This smacks of something illegal. I can see no reason for a further delay in developing natural gas in New York State. Our state has already lost two Congressional seats due to a reduction in population. People are fleeing New York State because of high taxes and a lack of jobs. Public schools have had to close due to reduced student enrollment. How much more of this negativity do New Yorkers have to endure? Gov. Cuomo, it is in your hands as the Governor of New York State to rescue New York from further economic downsizing and issue an Executive Order to development of our natural gas resources immediately. Thanking you for your kind consideration, I remain Sondra Bauernfeind Now, please write a letter of your own, won’t you? Here’s the address: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo Governor of New York State NYS State Capitol Building Albany, NY 12224 You can also call-518-474-8390
Saturday, September 1, 2012
The Viewpoint story by Sandra Steingraber and Michelle Bamberger (“Yogurt Industry and fracking don’t mix,” Aug. 20, 2012) doesn’t accurately portray the reality of being a dairy farmer. In fact, their hackneyed assertions and conspicuous lack of knowledge and understanding is an insult to every dairy farmer in our state. I’ve been a dairy farmer in Steuben County for 45 years and I have never witnessed a single cow harmed as a result of hydraulic fracturing. The petroleum industry has been active in Steuben County for years, on my property and within a few miles of my farm. In fact, the natural gas industry has done more to help small dairy farms than Ms Steingraber and Ms Bamberger can imagine. We are losing small dairy farms all over the country, not because of the natural gas industry. The average age of a dairy farmer is 62 years old and they’re still farming because of their financial condition, which generally isn’t good. Some smaller farms are being bought up by larger farms. Farmers are selling heads of cattle to neighboring farms to earn money to feed the rest of the herd. The price of feed is escalating while the price of milk per hundredweight is dropping. This is not sustainable. If a farmer is fortunate enough to have harvestable shale formations under their land, the revenue from the lease and royalties is a godsend. It means the core business can be sustained. A family farm can stay in the family for another generation. The farmer may decide to sell his herd if his health is declining or use the extra revenue for newer, safer equipment or structural upgrades. These are all investments in New York state’s future because of the natural gas industry and wise choices by farmers. By drilling a well, America becomes more energy independent, another American solider is safe at home and another family farm is saved in New York State. Neil C. Vitale
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Bloomberg Backs ‘Responsible’ Extraction of Gas and Pays to Help Set Up Rules. By MIREYA NAVARRO Published: August 24, 2012 After giving away a chunk of his personal fortune to the cause of eliminating coal-fired power plants, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is opening his checkbook in support of “responsible” extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing. . In an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Friday, the mayor came out strongly in favor of natural gas extraction through the controversial drilling process, known as fracking, as a way to lower utility bills, spur economic growth and reduce the nation’s dependence on coal. But the mayor said the drilling should take place under “common sense” regulations, to minimize environmental harm. To “jump start” that effort, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Friday that it was giving a $6 million grant to the Environmental Defense Fund to help secure strong rules in 14 states that account for 85 percent of the gas reserves accessible through fracking. Mr. Bloomberg wrote the article with George P. Mitchell, the Texas gas producer who pioneered the technology of hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, combined with horizontal drilling, in the 1990s. They wrote that their intention was to promote “the sensible center” in the charged debate over fracking. But in doing so, Mr. Bloomberg has injected himself into the most polarizing environmental debate facing New York State, at a time when the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is deciding where and how to allow fracking. It is uncertain when a decision will be announced. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the mayor’s position. But the mayor’s words immediately drew a rebuke from environmentalists, who say no amount of regulation would make fracking safe and are seeking an outright ban on drilling. “He speaks for himself, not the upstate New Yorkers who would be most directly and most immediately affected by fracking,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, one of the most active antifracking groups in the country. Mayor Bloomberg has long opposed fracturing in or near the city’s watershed in upstate New York, largely in the Catskills, which supplies drinking water to nine million people in the city and nearby counties. The city succeeded in getting the state to agree to a ban in the watershed if fracking is allowed. Deputy Mayor Caswell F. Holloway said the city had commissioned a study that showed there would be “serious risks” to the water supply if drilling were allowed in the watershed. He said Mr. Bloomberg is advocating that other water supplies be protected as well if they are found to be at similar risk. “When it comes to other water supplies, the mayor is calling for protection of groundwater and restrictions to protect those water supplies,” Mr. Holloway said. He has consistently supported more domestic use of natural gas as a way to reduce the country’s and the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. His administration is prodding buildings to switch to natural gas — which already supplies 57 percent of the city’s energy — by phasing out the dirtiest home-heating oils, and has backed construction of a just-approved interstate gas pipeline from Staten Island through New Jersey into the West Village in Manhattan. Last year, Mr. Bloomberg gave $50 million to a Sierra Club campaign to block new coal-fired power plants and eliminate existing ones. Mike Marinello, a spokesman for Bloomberg Philanthropies, said the mayor’s active support for natural gas was a next logical step. “Fracking for natural gas can be as good for our environment as it is for our economy and our wallets, but only if it’s done responsibly,” Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Mitchell wrote. “The rapid expansion of fracking has invited legitimate concerns about its impact on water, air and climate — concerns that industry has attempted to gloss over.” The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation has committed $1.6 million to this effort, with $400,000 going to the Environmental Defense Fund to help institute new or improved regulations in fracking states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas, as well as in New York. Fred Krupp, president of the group, said t “the country is doing a lot of hydrofracking and we have an obligation to make sure that the neighbors and the environment are protected.” They outlined principles for safer extraction, including disclosing all chemicals used in fracking, minimizing water consumption and protecting groundwater, and reducing the impact on roads and ecosystems. Matthew T. Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, N.Y., which is in Broome County, one of the areas of potential fracking in the state, said he would prefer that his colleague downstate use his money to lobby for a national energy policy that emphasizes renewable energy instead of more fossil fuels. “His water is protected,” he said of the mayor. “Ours isn’t
Monday, August 20, 2012
August 19, 2012 7:19 PM PrintText New York State to allow fracking ByJeff Glor (CBS News) The method of extracting natural gas from deep in the earth known as "fracking" has dramatically changed the U.S. energy industry, but as more wells are drilled, protests have continued. The latest flashpoint is New York State, which has been a fracking holdout. CBS News has learned that New York is about to okay fracking, and will issue guidelines after Labor Day. As this happens, the debate continues. The days are long and grueling for upstate New York dairy farmers John and Teresa Lyons. Lyons Hill Farm -- in the family for over 150 years -- is struggling. A 2009 barn fire put the family into debt, and recently milk prices have sunk. The Lyons say they are losing $7000 per month "The way the economy is there would be a great chance to lose the entire farm," Teresa said. The Lyons are relying on one hope: that New York State makes a decision soon that would allow gas drilling on their farm. "The money would be a great blessing," John Lyons said. The Lyons' farm sits on top of the Marcellus Shale Formation containing natural gas deep underground that stretches from Tennessee to New York. The gas is extracted by way of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", which involves millions of gallons of sand, water and potentially toxic chemicals blasted deep into the earth, shattering underground shale and freeing natural gas for collection. On the Pennsylvania side, property owners are expected to make more than $2 billion this year leasing land to the gas drilling companies. But in New York, fracking has been on hold for four years. "When I think about the money I'm standing on, it would be like someone standing on the bank knowing they have million dollars in it and no access to it," Teresa Lyons said. Environmental concerns have led to closer scrutiny of fracking. In Albany, New York's Department of Environmental Conservation -- responsible for writing the regulations - says if high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, it will do so with the strictest standards in the nation. Many New Yorkers, however, are saying not-so-fast. Sandra Steingraber, an environmental scientist, said that anyone -- even the Energy Secretary, the president and the EPA -- who says fracking can be done safely is wrong. "When you shatter the bedrock, it's not only full of methane, it's full of benzene, it's full of tylulene, its full of a lot of poisonous hydrocarbons. You blow that up and you put cocktail straws down into the ground to try to get the methane up, you create portals of contamination for other chemicals to come up into our ground water, aquifers and into air," Steingraber said. But the Lyons said they've seen safe drilling across the border and they'll take their chances to save the farm. "I drive to Pennsylvania and do not see a difference in the hay crop or the corn crop growing over there, just that they have a new tractor," John Lyons said.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman Jeff Heller at the Corning Natural Gas Blue Flame Room, Corning, N.Y. Present: Ken and LaVera Knowles, Dana Knowles, John Bloise, Jeff and Kathy Heller, Neil Vitale, Gordon Foster, Leo and Linda Knowles, Ellen Zver, Alice Gerow, Elaine and Bob Swiler, Rita Petras, Ed Heagle, Jim and Fran Rising, John Starzec, and Tim Olszowy. Neil had extra copies of the DVD "Truthland" for anyone to take that hadn't seen it or wanted to show to others. There were 87 people present at the showing of Truthland and panel discussion at the Corning American Legion on July 31st. Jeff talked of our presenters tonight from Syracuse University. Doctor Don Seigel discussed, fairly extensively, a pending water testing program. This was well received by the PAC members present and discussion continued until about 9:00 p.m. Next meeting was not scheduled. We will notify PAC members of that future date and location Respectfully Submitted, Linda J. Knowles
Thursday, August 16, 2012
By MICHAEL A. LEVI Published: August 15, 2012 NEW data released last month signaled a milestone for American energy: natural gas joined coal as the top source of electric power. Gas production has boomed on the back of abundant supplies. That has spurred debates over hydraulic fracturing, a method to extract gas from shale. Times Topic: Natural Gas (Fracking) . A related political and economic debate has emerged. A string of companies have applied for permission to export liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G., to countries that don’t have special free-trade agreements with the United States. Under federal law, the Energy Department has to find such exports to be consistent with the “national interest” before they can occur, though the term isn’t clearly defined. Last week, more than 40 members of Congress urged President Obama to move forward with approval, citing the benefits of free trade and the prospect of creating more jobs as demand for exports leads to growth in gas production. Critics pose a contrary set of arguments. They fear that demand for gas exports might encourage hydraulic fracturing, threatening water supplies, and they worry that siphoning off domestic gas for export will raise costs for domestic consumers and disadvantage American manufacturers that benefit from low-cost fuel. There are also national security concerns. Some see an opportunity to frustrate the two biggest holders of natural gas reserves: Russia and Iran. Critics would prefer that natural gas be used to replace oil in American automobiles. In a recent study I estimated that American firms could make up to $3 billion per year by producing and exporting liquefied natural gas. It’s true that gas-dependent industries would have to pay more because of higher gas prices, but those costs would be substantially smaller than the benefits. But there are bigger stakes involved than just money. A decision to constrain natural-gas exports could have dangerous reverberations for American trade. For example, the United States has filed with the World Trade Organization a challenge to Chinese restrictions on exports of so-called rare earth minerals, which are crucial for new technologies like wind turbines, missiles and smartphones. If Washington hypocritically limits gas exports, it might as well write the Chinese brief. There are other problems with the opponents’ arguments. To truly keep America’s natural gas within our borders would require restrictions on exports to our big trade partners Canada and Mexico, and that would put the North American Free Trade Agreement at risk. Forswearing exports would also eliminate a valuable tool for American trade negotiators: countries like Japan want privileged access to United States gas, and American negotiators can seek concessions in return. At the same time, exports would likely reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the small price increases that would result from allowing exports would have at most a marginal impact on the use of natural gas as fuel for cars and trucks. Blocking exports wouldn’t push natural gas into automobiles — it would mostly keep it in the ground, because there would be less incentive to extract it. But the critics are right to point out that exporting natural gas could increase environmental risks to communities where natural gas is extracted. Even so, a recent report from the International Energy Agency makes clear that inexpensive steps could substantially mitigate those dangers. It will take years before any export terminals are up and running — in the meantime, producers and regulators should strengthen safeguards so that gas is extracted safely. Exports would also raise natural gas prices a bit, adding as much as $50 to the annual electric bills for the poorest American households by the end of the decade. But the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program could help shield the most vulnerable as long as its financing is protected. The United States, which has imported natural gas for many years, has long benefited from a relatively open system for global trade in energy. Allowing natural-gas exports while protecting the environment and low-income consumers is the right way to go. Michael A. Levi is a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
By Devin Demarco and Christine Loman Evening Tribune Albany, NY — Congressman Tom Reed (R-C, Big Flats) and his opponent Nate Shinagawa differed sharply Monday on hydrofracking and its potential to create jobs in the area. Reed said in a conference call that he supports the growth of Marcellus Shale industry in upstate New York, because he believes it will lead to an influx of new jobs. "The Marcellus Shale development in our area, and in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, requires and demands local labor," said Reed. Reed said that the gas industry will need to hire local workers because they are running out of their own workers to bring into the area. Shinagawa said he doesn't think the focus should be on the gas industry specifically when trying to create jobs. "Fracking shouldn't create blinders to other, safer industries in New York," Shinagawa said. Shinagawa said the focus should be on incentivizing manufacturing, as well as investing in renewable energy. Increasing the funding of local schools and community colleges could positively affect the job market, he said. Reed, however, was clear in welcoming fracking to the area. "We want to make sure that we position ourselves to be in the best position to take advantage of the development of this resource as it develops in the northern tier of Pennsylvania, as well as potentially here in upstate New York," he said.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
12:25 PM, Jul. 31, 2012 Written by MARY ESCH in Associated Press A natural gas drilling company is taking a new tack in the industry’s fight against local drilling bans: It’s threatening to sue if New York regulators don’t step in and extinguish the prohibitions. John Holko, president of Lenape Resources, sent a letter Thursday to state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens saying a moratorium prohibiting natural gas development in the Livingston County town of Avon forced his company to shut down its wells there. The state enacted a drilling moratorium in 2008 when DEC began an environmental review of horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Lenape’s wells in Avon, however, are vertical wells that were not subject to that moratorium. The town law doesn’t distinguish between types of wells, but Town Supervisor David LeFeber said it was worded to protect Lenape’s existing wells. Regardless, Holko said Avon’s moratorium and others like it violate a 1981 law that says state rules supersede local ordinances in the regulation of gas development. “Lenape is trying to make it clear to DEC that the agency has a legal duty to carry out state law,” Michael Joy, Lenape’s lawyer, said on Monday. “That duty includes informing local municipal governments that they don’t have the authority to regulate the oil and gas industry.” In the past, DEC has sent letters to towns that enacted laws regulating oil and gas development, telling them they didn’t have the authority to do so. In its letter to Martens, Lenape attached one such correspondence, sent to the city of Olean in 1984. David Slottje, an Ithaca lawyer who helps towns draft moratoriums or bans on gas drilling, said in a letter to Martens on Tuesday that since two courts have upheld local bans, DEC doesn’t have to tell the towns to repeal them. More than 30 municipalities in upstate New York have passed bans on gas drilling and more than 80 have enacted moratoriums in anticipation of DEC completing its environmental review and lifting the 4-year-old state moratorium. The actions are in response to fears that fracking, which frees gas by injecting a well with chemically treated water at high pressure to crack rock deep underground, could contaminate water supplies or cause other harm. Drillers and DEC say state regulations and standard industry safeguards protect against harm from drilling and fracking. Martens has said that local ordinances will be taken into consideration when the agency approves permits for shale gas wells. Denver-based Anschutz Resources took the town of Dryden to court over its ban and a Middlefield landowner sued over that town’s ban. Both laws were upheld by judges who said bans are not regulation, so the state law against local regulation of gas development didn’t apply. Albany lawyer Tom West has said the decisions will be appealed. Local control over gas drilling has also been an issue in other states in the Marcellus Shale region, which includes southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The gas industry says local laws create a patchwork of regulation that thwarts development. A Pennsylvania court last week ruled that the state can’t restrict localities from using zoning laws to regulate oil and gas drilling within their borders. Ohio townships were stripped of regulatory authority over gas drilling under a law passed in 2004. Ordinances enacted by a handful of West Virginia communities to ban gas drilling were overturned last year by a judge who said the state has sole authority to regulate the industry. Morgantown, W. Va., enacted new zoning ordinances recently that restrict drilling to designated industrial zones; an industry group has said it may challenge that in court. Deborah Goldberg, an attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice who represents Dryden, said Lenape is wrong in saying DEC has an obligation to take enforcement action against towns that ban drilling. “To the contrary, the statute plainly gives the agency discretion over enforcement,” Goldberg said via email. “Under the circumstances, it would be a waste of scarce resources if DEC were to take action before the appellate courts resolve the pre-emption claims.” DEC apparently agrees. “The scope of the pre-emption must be left to the courts,” DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said by email. Lenape said if DEC doesn’t take action against the town of Avon, the company will do so and will name DEC as a party in the lawsuit. Lenape’s broader goal is to send a message to other municipalities that they don’t have the authority to enact gas development bans or moratoriums, Joy said.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Gov. Cuomo’s rumored plan to begin horizontal hydraulic fracturing of shale for oil and gas (mostly gas) in New York State is an important issue that threatens to fracture the alliance of those of us on the pro-drilling side of the debate. Many people (including MDN) are rightly outraged that not all landowners in all areas of the state will be given the opportunity to participate in drilling—at lease initially (if you believe the rumors about the governor’s plan). But a highly placed source with knowledge of both the landowners’ plight and the governor’s thinking recently spoke to MDN to let us know we’re viewing this issue through the wrong end of the telescope and that landowners outside of select counties have not been left out. Let me explain… Background On June 13, the New York Times printed a story that Gov. Cuomo is considering a plan that will allow a limited experiment of fracking in the state (see this MDN story). The plan would grant an initial 50 or so permits for drilling, and those permits would only be granted in five counties: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga. At the time everyone believed the “leak” of this plan came from either the governor himself or someone in his office as a trial balloon, to see how the public would react (and to see how freaked out his left-wing fringe base would become). The Times story had the effect of focusing everyone on those five counties, and according to MDN’s source, that’s precisely the wrong focus. Our source said, “It’s not about the counties, and it never was.” Why not? Because it’s “always been about the individual towns.” Both Cuomo and NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens have said for months now that only communities (towns) that want fracking will get it. MDN’s source said the Times story, which has never been confirmed by Cuomo or Martens, has had the effect of creating a rift among landowners and landowner groups. Some believe they won’t see drilling for two years or more because they’re not in one of what MDN has called “The Lucky Five” counties, and so they feel abandoned by the pro-drilling movement. MDN asked the question: You mean towns outside of The Lucky Five who have voted to support (or at least allow) drilling may get permits? “Yes” was the startling answer. That was a revelation for MDN. And it also explains why there is such an effort under way to get towns across the state—anywhere within the Marcellus or Utica Shale region—to pass a resolution of neutrality that says, in essence, we agree to let the DEC finish its work and we’re not going to ban anything until it does. (A copy of the resolution as adopted by the Town of Windsor is embedded below. The language gets tweaked from town to town, but this is essentially what towns are adopting that vote to “support” drilling.) Explaining further, MDN’s source said, “Look, if you had only 50 to 75 permits to issue, would you issue a permit in, say, Ithaca? Of course not! They don’t support drilling and you’d have a lawsuit on your hands.” So it only makes sense that initially, the DEC is going to grant permits to those towns (not counties, but towns) that support drilling. And that’s why this issue, this political battle is and will be fought at the town level. And why it has nothing to do with counties. It just so happens that the five counties mentioned in the Times article are likely to have the best chances of striking rich deposits of Marcellus Shale gas. Home Rule But what about the home rule issue—the situation where towns are banning drilling, denying their citizens their Constitutional property rights? The home rule issue muddles the debate of county vs. towns. According to MDN’s source, Gov. Cuomo is not in favor of home rule or Sen. Jim Seward’s legislation granting townships home rule would have already been passed and signed into law. The source says Cuomo is the consummate politician—he knows that the courts will decide the home rule issue and he’s staying away from it until that happens. There are two pending court cases on the home rule issue working their way through New York courts now. Our source also says allowing towns home rule would have serious unintended consequences. For example, if home rule goes into effect granting towns the right to thwart the DEC, a township would be able to set their own season and limits for deer hunting, or bear hunting. In other words, home rule would gut the DEC’s authority and result in a crazy quilt of regulations across the state—something that Cuomo and Martens will not allow to happen. Action Plan for All NY Landowners So where does that leave us, as landowners and supporters of safe drilling? It means that a) forget about the artificial boundaries of The Lucky Five counties. It’s not about a specific geography. And b) the fight is now local, at the township level. Landowners need to pressure (respectfully, and with good manners, but also with firmness) their town boards to adopt a resolution of neutrality that they will not ban drilling ahead of the DEC’s release of the SGEIS drilling rules. In other words, landowners not in The Lucky Five are not victims, and they’re not helpless. They have tough work to do, but if they do it, they may see drilling much sooner than they though possible. Landowners outside The Lucky Five counties may get lucky themselves and receive a permit for drilling—this year. Also, if the pending court cases on home rule are resolved this year, or early next year, and if they are decided in favor of landowners (and against home rule), that will nullify all of the existing bans, paving the way for landowners in those towns to get drilling. Of course those towns that previously voted to ban drilling are still on record as “opposing” drilling, but a court ruling against home rule will make it easier for the DEC, down the road, to issue permits even in those towns if the courts say those landowners cannot be denied because of a town board vote. In the meantime, landowners in those towns with a ban need to work diligently to vote those board members out of office and vote in a board who will rescind the previous vote to ban. Bottom line: Landowners in every county are plenty to do on this issue and should not give up and play victim. Get out there and work! Stand up for your rights! The Multimillion Dollar Question And so finally, the question everyone always asks MDN: When will the DEC release their rules and when will drilling actually begin in New York? MDN asked our highly placed source. And that source would only say the DEC will release the new regulations, “Sometime this summer. That’s all I’m willing to say at this point
Friday, July 20, 2012
July 19, 2012 By Dorothy Davis With natural gas prices hitting decade-low prices earlier this year, General Electric (NYSE: GE), in partnership with Chart Industries and scientists at the University of Missouri, announced plans to develop a system for rapidly refueling natural gas-powered cars in the home. GE plans to develop a system that will attach to domestic natural gas lines to compress gas and refuel a tank in less than an hour. Ideally, the device would ultimately cost no more than $500, or around one-tenth of the price of current technology. “The goal of our project is to design an at-home refueling station that is much simpler in design, more cost effective and reduces re-fueling times to under an hour. By reducing the time and cost of re-fueling, we can break down the barriers that are preventing more widespread adoption of NG (Natural Gas) vehicles" said Anna Lis Laursen, project leader and chemical engineer at GE Global Research. "If we can meet our cost targets, the price of a home refueling station would be less than typical appliances in the home such as a dishwasher or stove.” Total cost of program will be approximately $2.3 million, which will be shared by GE and the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) . Researchers from GE will focus on overall system design integration, while it's partners Chart Industries and University of Missouri will address the detailed engineering, cost and manufacturability of the key system components. Consumers have been slow to adopt alternative energy vehicles, in large part because the country already boasts extensive infrastructure to support gasoline-powered vehicles. However, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that the amount of natural gas fuel being consumed by highway-rated vehicles rose from 86.5 million gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2000 to nearly 200 million gasoline-equivalent gallons in 2009. In line with its goals to accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel, GE has also recently introduced its CNG In A Box™ technology, which takes natural gas from a pipeline and compresses it on-site at an industrial location or a traditional automotive refilling station.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
In the latest issue of National Review there is an essay, semi-serious, semi-humorous, that discusses the differences between "bull...ters" and liars. The former being much less harmful than the latter. The essay is centered on a 1986 essay by Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt and discusses what makes bull...t different from "balderdash", "claptrap", "hokum", "drivel", and "quackery". We are reminded of all these terms when we try to analyze what the anti-gas drilling environmentalists are up to when we listen to most of their statements. In honor of Dale Carnegie we have to acknowledge that they are generally sincere - that they generally believe what they are saying. It just becomes a colossal challenge to believe that they are being totally honest with us. They are environmentalists. For some this becomes virtually a religion. "Thou shall not harm Mother Earth". We are conservationists. We are concerned about protecting our environment while maintaining "progress". Hence, we live in a country where we know our air and water are steadily getting cleaner, but we believe they're getting dirtier. In the name of civility, when the anits make their statements that are not entirely true, we have to hesitate to call them liars or ..., the other. When Josh Fox was confronted about all the material in "Gasland" that was, shall we say, "untrue", he responded that "the truth is irrelevant". It seems more and more that "the truth" is irrelevant to all the antis. The antis often use what we can semi-humorously describe as the Bikini presentation. (This analogy may have been used by this writer before, but it's just too good to let go.) That is - revealing points of interest, but concealing all the vitals. There are scores of examples of this, but let's look at just a few. "There's radiation in the Marcellus Shale" - certainly a point of interest. The concentrations are totally insignificant - certainly a vital point. Hydrofracking could pollute a water source - point of interest. It's just that after about 1.5 million uses in general and about 50,000 high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing operations, it never has! - a vital point. The Marcellus Watch column, which would be more accurately titled the Marcellus Mash column, is full of these half-truths. The Wheeler board members voted entirely legally, and probably in the interests of the majority of their residents. At least there are far, far, more members in the land owners coalition than the 30 "residents" who signed the referred to letter. Mr. Mantius cites on Amish man as if he represented all Amish farmers. (point of interest). There were dozens of Amish at Coalition meetings over the last four years. (vital point!) You have to wonder why he ignores the Freemont town meeting - where an overwhelming majority of town residents is a show of hands said they would sue if the town passed a moratorium - and with Mr. Slotje in attendance! So, those of us who have been fighting the antis, and all their half truths, for four years, continue to search for a term to describe our friends in the Anti-movement. In the name of civility we should probably not use any of the terms cited in the lead paragraph - and yet come of them are soooo tempting. Certainly "bikini-ists" doesn't do it. Maybe, in a show of respect to the Plains Indians, "buffalo chipsters". Even that probably doesn't do it. We'll just have to keep looking for that "perfect" descriptive word. Maybe we can get beyond the negative "Anti"; after all, "anti" just reveals a point of interest. Jeff Heller Chairman SCLOC - PAC
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
] A A Written by Jon Campbell Albany Bureau ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday expressed support for "home rule" when it comes to natural-gas drilling, saying that a municipality’s support or opposition should factor into the decision-making process. In an interview on New York Public Radio, Cuomo addressed the issue because it has been the subject of two lawsuits and speculation as to whether local decision-making would play a role in whether drilling goes forward in a community. “I think it’s inarguable that one should take into consideration home rule, and if you have communities that have an expressed desire to proceed, I think that should be taken into consideration if you decide to go down this road at all,” Cuomo said. “Obviously, if a community says that they oppose it, that should be taken into consideration.” Cuomo’s comments come after state Department of Environmental Conservation officials have hinted in recent months that a community’s position on hydrofracking would be taken into account when deciding where to issue permits for the technique. High-volume hydrofracking permits have been on hold in New York until the DEC completes an environmental and regulatory review of the process, which involves the use of water, sand and chemicals injected into underground shale formations to release natural gas. Cuomo said that review should be completed “later this summer.” The debate over home rule has led to the passage of more than 100 municipal bans or moratoriums on hydrofracking or gas drilling, most of which are in the central New York and Finger Lakes region. Meanwhile, landowner coalitions have urged town boards to pass resolutions in support of gas drilling, focusing on towns in the deepest part of the Marcellus Shale region near the Pennsylvania border. In the end, whether municipal bans hold up could come down to the courts. A pair of state Supreme Court judges ruled that state law allows towns to ban the practice; both decisions are currently being appealed. Cuomo is believed to be considering allowing a limited amount of high-volume hydrofracking permits in five counties along the Southern Tier in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale -- Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Chenango and Steuben. And the state may place the permits only in municipalities that favor the drilling. Cuomo, a first-term Democrat, stressed that no final decisions have been made when it comes to whether allow hydrofracking at all. “I know (DEC is) working very hard, but I want them to do it on a professional timetable and not a political timetable,” Cuomo said.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
STATEMENT CLARIFYING JLCNY INTERPRETION OF THE POTENTIAL FINAL SGEIS & PLAN FOR PERMITTING As you may know, the Cuomo Administration signaled its support for a natural gas development plan that would allow gas drilling to begin in a handful of New York counties in the Southern Tier. The announcement, which was first described in broad strokes by a published report in The New York Times (“Cuomo Proposal Would Restrict Gas Drilling to a Struggling Area,” 6/13/12), is an encouraging development for landowners who believe drilling provides a pathway to clean economic growth. People in New York State need to see development activity safely underway before reasonably extending it to other regions. Since the announcement contained some ambiguity, it also produced uncertainty and confusion over exactly what this plan means for future natural gas production in New York State. Ultimately only the Governor can provide additional clarity around his proposal; however, as far as the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is concerned, we believe the Governor’s announcement makes clear that development is coming. More specifically, we believe: The state, not local communities, will remain in control of setting standards for development. As we’ve said in the past, and that has been reinforced in many local government resolutions, municipalities lack the expertise and resources to conduct the comprehensive regulatory supervision that natural gas development requires. Only the state, and specifically, the Department of Environmental Conservation, has the adequate know‐how to oversee natural gas production. We remain confident that the Governor will authorize responsible state led regulation and permitting of natural gas development. The authority of local bans and moratoria will be determined by the judicial branch. Local bans or moratoria will hold no power over the state’s permitting decisions, unless the courts grant communities that right. The DEC will treat all permits equally, and in accordance with the law. While the Governor’s Administration may focus initial permitting to those areas that have vocalized support for clear state led safeguards, it does not mean state agencies will prohibit permitting where the law and its guidelines allow mineral resource development. The JLCNY is hopeful that the polarized debate over natural gas development is finally being dictated by facts and moving toward clear definitive action – rather than prolonged inaction – by the state. It’s very clear to us that momentum at the local level is shifting in favor of development, as more and more local municipalities pass resolutions in support of state control over gas drilling. And it’s very clear to us that the Governor has taken note and is taking steps to bring responsible energy and related job development to upstate New York. The 70,000 members of the JLCNY remain committed to responsible natural gas development in New York, and we are confident that the State of New York under Governor Cuomo’s leadership is moving toward implementing guidelines under the fundamentals outlined above.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Shale Gas Review A blog by Tom Wilber, journalist and author covering Marcellus and Utica shale gas development Thursday, June 28, 2012What’s next in Cuomo’s fracking plan for New York...? Clues found both in remarks, permitting data If Governor Andrew Cuomo can be taken for his word, the wheels of shale gas development will soon begin turning in New York state, without legislative involvement. Last week, Cuomo said the long-awaited policy document necessary for permitting high volume hydraulic fracturing wells would be issued “shortly” and, he added, while the legislature is not session as to avoid “a political discussion.” Cuomo has been promising to push forward with the contentious issue of shale gas development and fracking in particular since he took office in 2010, so it’s hard to know what “shortly” means. But stakeholders on both sides are taking his latest remarks seriously. Grass roots anti-fracting groups have turned up the heat with their demonstrations, phone calls, and letter campaigns targeting elected officials. Drilling proponents have fallen into camps both critical and supportive of Cuomo’s recently reported approach to limit the debut of fracking in New York to certain areas, based on the lead of local governments. But drilling supporters are also eager to see some sort of policy that would allow permitting to begin. That is expected to happen through the final SGIES (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement), which includes the state DEC”s environmental review of shale gas impacts that has been in the works for four years -- the document Cuomo says will be released “shortly”. Last week, during an interview with the Albany’s WGDJ-AM, Cuomo indicated he was sticking with the idea of letting localities, rather than state government, determine how fracking operations will play out in New York. To do this, the state would count on a process of natural selection, more or less, to approve permit applications, talking into account where local governments want shale gas development for economic reasons, and where they (or the state) wants it banned for public health and safety concerns. “Many times a town or a city will say, ‘That’s nice, I’m glad you think that Albany, but stick to Albany, we know better. Government closest to home knows the best.’ “ Cuomo said. Reading a politician is a tricky, but I don’t think I’m not going too far out on a limb by characterizing Cuomo’s approach as an attempt to reach a compromise in the highly polarizing issue of fracking. Having been in the news business for some time, I’m also keeping in mind the political strategy of releasing controversial material during a time when the mainstream media, activists, and politicians are distracted. Often this means late on a Friday, during the height of summer vacation, and/or when legislative session is out. In short, upcoming summer months square with that scenario. In search of more clues as to where and when shale gas permits will be issued in the Empire State, though, I followed the lead of industry watcher and blogger Andy Leahy, and turned to the New York State DEC’s data base that tracks permitting activity. My take is similar to Leahy’s, and it’s really not a big surprise. The companies are setting their stakes down in the south central part of the state, over the richest part of New York’s Marcellus Shale and near major pipeline infrastructure. Chenango County is one strategic spot. Here Norse Energy, the Norway firm, has been developing the Herkimer Sandstone formation for a decade, and it intends to use its landhold and hardware to begin exploring the Utica and Marcellus shales as it works it’s way south toward the Millennium Pipeline in Broome County. I count 20 Norse permit applications in Chenango County for either the Marcellus or Utica, most of them from this year. If Cuomo releases his permitting document, Norse may also be among the first out of the gate in Broome County, where it this year applied for five shale gas permits in the town of Sanford. Chesapeake, of Oklahoma City, is also vested in Broome County, with a dozen applications in the Town of Fenton from 2009. In Tioga County, Talisman, a Canadian company, has 11 active shale gas permits applications in the Town of Candor from 2008 and 2009. Carrizo, a Houston company, filed one this year in the Town of Owego. But while these and other companies are positioning themselves to be among the first to sink shale gas wells in the Empire State, the regulatory and business atmosphere remains unsettled. Permits will likely have to be updated after the SGIES is finalized. Environmental groups, such as EarthJustice, have threatened to stop the industry from advancing with challenges to the legal integrity of a state policy that allows fracking to be tried in some areas while banned in others on environmental grounds. Moreover, the price of natural gas remains low, and some shale gas ventures in New York are languishing. They include a proposal by eCorp to get around the SGIES by using propane rather than fracking fluid to stimulate wells in Tioga County. The proposal, announced in late May, would give landowners a working interest in well operations rather than up-front lease payments. So far, this pay-me-later versus pay-me-now proposition has not generated much enthusiasm from landowners, and there is no deal on the immediate horizon. Meanwhile, Chesapeake has sold mineral rights to 160,000 acres in the Finger Lakes region to Minard Run, a family-owned company in Bradford, Pa. Minard plans to drill exploratory wells into conventional formations over the next 18 to 24 months, with a “high probability” of also exploring the Utica Shale using unconventional horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic fracturing in Cayuga and Seneca counties. This is in a region with strong drilling opposition, and could be, under Cuomo’s strategy, excluded from the state’s initial round of permit approvals. Drilling proponents have questioned the soundness of Cuomo’s approach that allows some state residents to develop their mineral rights, but not others. Meanwhile, the legislative picture remains turbulent during an election year. Many fracking bills were in the pipeline as the legislative session ended last week, but none made it to the floor, indicating a reluctance by lawmakers to attempt to legislate a process that is still in the works administratively. The legislature can convene at any time, and would be likely to do so if the final SGIES – along with issues about where fracking is or isn’t allowed -- raised enough political concern. While any attempts to seriously curb or ban shale gas drilling is not likely to pass the current Senate, controlled by pro-drilling Republican leadership, it will be interesting to see whether the state’s policy, should Cuomo finalize it prior to elections, will stand up to the political test that will come on Nov. 6.