Tuesday, February 28, 2012
By Brian Stoffel, The Motley Fool In Daily Finance Make no mistake about it: the American economy is in the throes of the longest, most protracted recovery since the Great Depression. But there is an industry offering a beacon of hope, and it could soon serve as the tipping point that gets America back to work: natural gas. With the onset of new technologies to get to natural gas, this once-underappreciated commodity is now viewed as the key to weaning the U.S. from our heavy oil consumption and crucial to providing energy independence (in as little as 20 years, by some estimates). As much as "energy independence" has a nice ring to it, even better is what it's going to take to achieve it. Converting the country to natural gas will require lots of hard work -- and lots of workers -- which is exactly what the U.S. needs to pull it out of the unemployment doldrums. The Case for Conversion In 2011 the U.S. Energy Information Administration came out with their projections for fuel cost trends during the next 25 years. Consider these estimates, which show the cost for one gallon of petroleum-based fuels as opposed to a gallon-equivalent of natural gas fuels: Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2011. Natural gas assumes 7.9 gallons per 1,000 cubic feet. As you can see, the advantages of switching to natural gas are clear. So long as a gallon gas equivalent of natural gas costs significantly less than petroleum-based fuels, there will be growing demand for vehicles that run on natural gas. The switch is already taking place, too: The first industry that's taken the leap of faith on natural gas is trucking. Westport Innovations (WPRT) designs engines that can run solely on natural gas. Lately, the company has announced a number of joint ventures, partnerships, and orders. The company already has a profitable joint venture with manufacturer Cummins (CMI). And that joint venture just won a contract from trucking giant Navistar (NAV). While what's happening at Westport, Cummins, and the like is a strong indication that the conversion to natural gas is speeding up significantly, these companies alone can't employ enough Americans to accelerate a recovery. The jobs -- the big jobs that will put droves of Americans back to work -- will be in infrastructure. The next great build-out Right now there are only 1,100 natural gas filling stations in the country. That's less than 1% of the total number of fueling locations nationwide. Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) is currently putting enough natural gas stations on the interstate system to support the trucking industry. But it won't be enough once it becomes clear to the broader public that the switchover to natural gas is a smart, cost-effective move. Other industries will soon follow to keep up with demand. When that happens, construction will need to ramp up on a huge scale to start adding fueling stations throughout the country. That, in turn, will create a bevy of new jobs. If you don't think that sounds like enough to help jump-start our economy, consider these facts: •About 40% of jobs lost during the recession came from a contraction in construction -- 2 million directly from construction workers being out of work, and 1.6 million due to those unemployed workers cutting back on spending. •Even if the natural gas station build-out equates to just 33% of the total number of standard gas stations in America, roughly 39,000 stations would need to be built, providing hundreds of thousands of new jobs to laborers, contractors, and sub-contractors. While 33% is a long way to go from where we are today, if the natural gas revolution gets traction, that's where we're headed. •This doesn't even touch on the demand for labor from natural gas extractors that's to be expected, or the possibilities of jobs created through the exportation of natural gas. Obviously, this conversion won't happen overnight. But where there are incentives to switch over to natural gas, developments have been accelerating. Right now, the chronically unemployed and underemployed can use any good news they can get their hands on. The stars will soon be aligning for these folks, and that should be music to all of our ears.
Monday, February 20, 2012
by EID Guest Blogger . Neil Vitale Steuben County, NY Organic Dairy Farmer Steuben County Land Owners Coalition A short time ago, in 2008, there was a goose ready to come into New York that would provide significant prosperity to upstate resident’s in New York. It was similar to another which already landed in Pennsylvania bringing prosperity to that state. Governor Patterson, unfortunately, listened to environmental activists and chased our goose, which was ready to lay golden eggs all over the Southern Tier, into Pennsylvania. Now, because the Governor chose to side with false narratives from environmental activists, we all must continue to wait for the benefits this goose will bring. Farmers in the Southern Tier never bought what these environmentalists were selling. Through experience they realized a goose would make noise, occasionally leave a feather in the yard and some organic fertilizer, but all of this is manageable. Farmers were willing to tolerate this, but the misinformed environmentalists did not want to see this goose in our State so they made up stories and yelled as loud as they could. To add insult to injury, every time this goose sticks her head into New York these environmental activists’ knives come out and chase the goose into another state. So here we sit, in 2012, able to see progress across the border with the knowledge that when the DEC and Governor Cuomo finally allow natural gas development here it may be too little, too late. This of course is thanks to those who claim to be better stewards of the land than the farmers who have put their blood, sweat and tears into our land for generations with little in return. Natural Gas Golden Goose Shooed Off Painted Post Don’t believe me? Take a look at Painted Post, a community in Steuben County nestled in the Susquehanna River Basin, which found a way to help their village prosper from Marcellus Shale development just over the border–despite New York’s refusal to issue permits. You, see Painted Post has a great commodity–water–meaning they could use that surplus, and existing rail structures, to sell the resource to companies operating in the Marcellus thus enabling them to make a substantial profit for the community.This action would be dictated by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), who unlike their counterpart in the Delaware River Basin, has taken a very scientific approach to water withdrawal requests; approving those that meet strict flow requirements safeguarding environmental health and deny those that don’t. As you clearly see, it should be a pretty straightforward decision for whether or not the village can move forward with the sale of their water. Yet, individuals outside that community, those same environmental activists I referred to previously, are trying to halt this action because it will enable development of shale resources in another state. See the advertisement below for an upcoming event to discuss this issue. Exporting Water from the Conhocton and Chemung River Acquifers: Is it Sustainable? Is It Legal? What Can We Do about It? A forum on issues raised by recent plans for local municipalities to sell water from municipal water supplies for gas drilling in Pennsylvania will be held: Wed., March 7, 2012 at the Bath Fire Hall 50 East Morris Street, Bath, NY at 7:00 pm Jean Wosinski, a geologist from Corning, will address the geology of our local water sources and whether they can sustain large water exports Rachel Treichler, an attorney from Hammondsport will address legal issues presented by municipalities exporting water Virginia Rasmussen, a member of the Alfred Village Board and a principal with the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy, will speak about local laws municipalities can adopt to protect aquifers The program will conclude with an open question and answer period. The program is sponsored by the Bath Peace and Justice Group. Waldo Babcock from Prattsburgh, a member of BPJ, will moderate the program. The program is free and open to the public. What can you do about it? How about let the leaders of the communities decide what is best for the constituents that elected them? What about allowing the SRBC to do their job and decide based on data and science if the withdrawals are legal and sustainable? But no, they won’t. That wouldn’t fit into their agenda to stop the harvesting of the natural resources we are blessed to have under our feet. They don’t care about the farmers losing their land to ever rising taxes, high prices for the necessities to maintain their livelihoods, and low prices for their products. You see, when one farmer loses a farm, it affords others the opportunity to buy it for pennies on the dollar to subdivide and turn that land into a vacation,retirement homes or additional suburban communities that reduce available open-space. But they don’t care what happens to the community they claim to love from a distance–we farmers, and our families, are just collateral damage enabling them to preserve the land from the comfort of their cities far out of touch with our reality. Cartoon from Recent Article in The Post & E-Mail Depicting Burden on Farmers Today They don’t care that our children have left to find the means to sustain their families because we can’t offer them jobs here at home. They don’t care that our grandchildren will suffer greatly by not allowing shale development to happen safely and responsibly in New York. No Schools without Natural Gas? In addition, they break out their knives anytime natural gas gets anywhere near our schools leaving school districts like Elmira and Watkins Glen with no choice but to cut “unnecessary programs” like gym, art, music, library, athletics, and in some cases even kindergarten and pre-k classes. That’s right, Watkins Glen school district, nestled in the Finger Lakes with the prize wineries will be cutting funding. Apparently all of those tourists that have been touted as the salvation of the region, don’t pay enough school taxes to support needed educational programs at our schools. A good example of these cuts can be seen in this February 16th article from PressConnects about the dire situation in the Elmira school district: Elmira school chief: Programs at risk Board addresses options to close $10M budget gap What does a skeleton school look like? Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter asked the question Thursday, much as he did Wednesday night at an Elmira school board meeting. The answer, he said, is that an elementary school, for example, might look like this: no art, music, physical education or library — or at least no teachers specifically teaching those subjects. A skeleton high school, he said, might have no sports teams — or at least fewer of them. And a skeleton district might have fewer buildings. All of which are possibilities raised by Hochreiter in his budget update at the board meeting. “That’s what we’re getting pushed toward,” Hochreiter said Thursday. “For the second year in a row, we’re starting our budget with a $10 million gap. That’s why we’re looking at some of those sacred cows, and those sacred cows include facilities.” The board will have a budget workshop at 7 p.m. Wednesday during its regular meeting at the Elmira Free Academy Community Room. At 7 p.m. March 1, at a site to be determined, the board will get a cost comparison on proposals for school buildings being studied by Hunt Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors. The final plan could include closing one or more schools. At Wednesday’s meeting, the superintendent told the board that 44 percent of the budget for any of the district’s eight elementary schools goes toward non-mandated programs — those not required by state or federal governments. He said the programs include kindergarten and pre-K classes, a few subjects, teachers and other staff. The subjects — art, music, physical education and library — don’t have to be taught by teachers certified in those areas, Hochreiter said. Of the athletic teams in the upper grades, he said, “It’s nice to have teams, but they’re not mandated.” Also, he said, “We may have to talk about kids walking further to school.” The next time a teacher loses their job, school programming is cut, a state worker pension fund is drastically reduced, potholes in our streets destroy our cars and bridges collapse, we can thank those who have chased this goose out of our state and the lost resources we may never see!
Thursday, February 16, 2012
By Ed Rogers This type of information about the federal government should alarm anyone who lives in the United States of America. We cannot continue to regulate every a aspect of americans lives without severe economic consequences. We are experiencing them now, what does the future look like when even the type of toilet paper you must use is controlled? Honestly, there is no free lunch, there is a cost to every action that government takes, enough already, stop, stop, stop, danger, stop. JLCpulse The Washington Post Opinion The Insiders By Ed Rogers Ok. Let’s talk about Jennifer Aniston on the cover of the March issue of GQ Magazine. Ha! It was a trick to entice you to read one more piece from me about the 2013 Obama Administration federal budget. In previous posts, I have tried to express alarm about the deficit and the debt and bemoaned the fact that our political budget fight isn’t about competing budgets, but about who is to blame for there not being a budget. I’ve received very little positive reinforcement about my wanting to dwell on the topic. I promise that I probably might not maybe perhaps write about this again. But, beyond the macro numbers and the calamity that they illustrate, when you get into the details of the President’s budget, things get worse. For instance, the President’s budget would harm economic growth by increasing taxes on America’s energy companies by $41 billion over ten years. Who do we think is going to pay that $41 billion? The answer is either a) retirees and investors, through their pension funds that own energy stocks, or b) consumers who will have to pay more for their home power bills or at the gasoline pumps. While the President talked about natural gas during his State of the Union address, his budget silently included more than $40 million of new spending, distributed to eight government agencies to increase the government’s regulation of natural gas fracking. Fracking is the technology that has caused a spike in American production and a huge drop in natural gas energy prices. Natural gas production has been a thriving industry in America for decades and our potential to create U.S. jobs has increased exponentially due to fracking. We don’t need to increase the oversight and spending for eight federal government agencies to harass an industry that is already heavily regulated by the states. The left loves to burn natural gas, but they seem to hate people and places who produce it. The budget numbers and the growth-inhibiting hidden features within the budget may not be a campaign issue, but energy prices will be. And nothing President Obama is doing appears to be friendly toward lower energy prices.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Dear DEC, First and foremost, I would like to thank the members of the New York DEC who traveled throughout the state to conduct the four hearings. You were subjected to rude name calling in the two hearings I attended and, frankly, that would have put me in a fit of uncontrollable anger, yet you remained professional and courteous. Your jobs were belittled by angry natural gas opponents who, in reality, knew nothing about what you set out to accomplish, and this was evident in their testimonials. Please remember in your deliberations that tens of thousands of landowners in New York have always had the option to leave this state but have not. We know we live in a pristine state with great forest, cities, lakes and mountains. The landowners have always done their part to preserve our state’s natural beauty, including the clean water, We will not falter in this responsibility and the proof of that is in all the research and studying we have done to understand the natural gas industry, the risk and the rewards. Although it is true that some may be in it for the money, many of us are in it for survival to remain on our properties, and yet we will not allow rouge operators, shortcuts, and would rather lose our land to taxes than see it environmentally destroyed. This is why many of us have spent our weekends writing leases that we believe will be equal to or better than much of what’s in the SGEIS, as far as standards are concerned. We do not believe our state will fold to naysayers, or succumb to emotional pressures that were incubated in politically correct media. We have endured a lot of one-sided reporting by Southern Tier newspapers and television stations. We have patiently listened to the uniformed voices of well-meaning students who fell victim to these propaganda machines. We have heard it all, but we still believe common sense, economic reality and science will prevail, with your help. Thousands of young New Yorkers will be able to take courses in our schools that will enable them to work in the gas industry at high salary rates. They won’t all be land owners, but they will all stay in New York and raise families, build homes, and be productive tax payers. We not only believe natural gas development can be done safely, but know that all of New York will benefit from the economic opportunities created and the lower cost fuel delivered. Godspeed and let’s get it done! New York needs natural gas development. Victor Furman Chenango Forks, NY Submitted at 11:59:54, January 11, 2012
Saturday, February 11, 2012
- Meeting called to order at 7:00PM at the Blue Flame Room, at Corning Natural Gas in Corning - The chairman addressed the effects of all the negative news. Special attention on the low price of gas - a recent Goldman/Sachs report projected a very quick recovery from the current low price. - A “fact sheet" was presented by the chairman. The object is to counterbalance all the bad reporting in local news outlets. We may print this out on a pocket size flyer to be distributed in Steuben County. - The chairman sent a letter to the new Publisher of The Leader expressing our concerns on their uneven coverage of the gas-drilling issue with an offer to sit down with him to discuss our point of view. We received a pleasant response - but no invitation! - Kenny Knowles gave a report on the status of the Dominion storage field situation in Woodhull. Right now that seems to be going well for the land owners - but it isn't over yet! - There was a discussion on lease issues generated by Tim Olszowy's concerns in this area. Some very good points were brought up by Tim. This was a fairly extensive discussion and we will report further as we have more information on all these concerns. - Neil Vitale attended, and discussed with the Coalition, the Frac Focus workshop in Williamsport. - Neil also brought up the concept of gas generators at windmill sites. He also discussed the Pa. land owners disappointments at not being able to access gas from their own wells or wells in their immediate area. - Neil also talked about removing the other F word (Fracking) from our vocabulary. He suggested either SAFE, for Shale Assisted Fissure Expansion, or the more popular among the PAC members, SEET, for Shale Energy Extraction Technology. - The organization called Clean Growth Now was discussed. A good organization of businesses, unions, etc. that is pro drilling and not just land owners - although SCLOC is a member. Look these over at www.cleangrowthnow.org. - Neil brought up the latest anti-bills in the Assembly, including the push on home rule extensions. The chairman pointed out that the Assembly is hopelessly controlled by urban liberal democrats who never vote in our interests. The chairman is trying to get members to not get upset by Assembly Bills - we can do absolutely nothing about them, and they are not going to change. Our only hope is that the Senate will protect our interests or that the Governor will see the "big picture" and recognize that the interests of the state in general are in our favor, in favor of developing our natural gas riches. - Neil pointed out ANGA will be bringing a Pro movie to Corning in March - details to follow. - Leo Knowles pointed out that some drillers in Pa. are starting to drill holes alongside wells to insert monitors to detect any ground movement, water changes, and other elements that might be affected by drilling. - Elaine Swiler gave a report on the Steuben County Natural Gas Task Force on Roads and Infrastructure Committee meeting attended by Elaine and Mary Hickey. - The chairman announced he is starting to attend County Legislative meeting. It was pointed out that the Anti's are often present without any representation from our side. The chairman has attended four of these meetings in the last month. - There was some more discussion on lease releases. We're working on this issue - especially with Talisman. - Kenny Knowles wrapped up with an upbeat report on our current conditions and our hopes for getting a lease offer. - The next meeting was set for March 12, 2012 at 7PM at the Blue Flame Room at Corning Natural Gas in Corning. - We would like to extend an invitation for members of the Coalition to attend our meetings. However, since we meet in a relatively small room, please call one of us for a specific "invitation" to attend. Jeff Heller - 583-7820 Ken Knowles - 458-5302 Neil Vitale - 525-6482 Karen Ballard - 523-7246
Thursday, February 9, 2012
There are two types of science: pure science and junk science. The beauty of pure science is that it is discoverable and quantifiable. The scourge of junk science is that it is everywhere. It spews from the shabby research conducted by "scientists" in unrelated disciplines who accept funding from biased foundations for the singular purpose of being published. The writer and those who read his commentary need to understand some basic truths: » Hydraulic fracturing is not new. It was been used as a natural gas retrieval process since the 1950s. Almost every natural gas well in New York — more than 10,000 - drilled since that time has been hydraulically fractured; » The operator — by contract and law — is responsible for any and all road repair caused by the operator's work, whether it occurs on private property or public roads. Tax dollars do not pay for environmental remediation. » As far as loss of jobs and income, this industry creates jobs for workers at all levels. Look at the very robust workforces in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Bradford County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state of Pennsylvania, because of the natural gas industry. Jobs break the cycle of underemployment and improve the quality of life for individuals and communities; social disarray and displacement? Social disarray is a byproduct of low self-esteem brought on by underemployment. Displacement occurs when people leave their home state to look for work elsewhere. Again, look at the strong local workforce in Pennsylvania, where high school graduates with proper training can earn more than $75,000 a year. They can stay in their communities to raise their families. Good jobs help solve social problems. » Yes, this country needs natural gas now. The United States has been too dependent on foreign energy sources for too long. We have an incredible source of domestic energy here right now and it can provide a means also to build our workforce safely and efficiently. Pure science suffers when junk scientists and ill- informed people make headlines with over-aggrandized findings and unsupported statements. Industry's research is funded by industry, an investment in all of our well-being. Holko is president of Lenape Resources of Alexander and director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Some Thoughts on Moving Forward in 2012 in the Marcellus Gas Play Is it going to be a reality or are we going to put it off for another year, hoping the NYS budget shortfall and unemployment will magically disappear? The answer rests on Governor Cuomo’s shoulders. Will he continue to slow down the approval process to the delight of environmentalists who are supported by foreign oil interests, and finance green energy projects with tax revenue we no longer have? These projects are no longer economically competitive with natural gas prices that are as low as they are now and will be for years to come due to the gas play occurring in Pennsylvania. New York is at a historical cross roads. Will it join the other 24 states that are horizontally drilling and hydraulically fracturing in gas and oil plays in the United States and around the world? Will the Governor stop New York’s participation in this energy independent and economic recovery movement ? The roadblocks that have occurred in the New York State Marcellus Play can be attributed to DEC ineffectiveness. DEC has too many irons in the fire. The oil and gas industry in New York should be regulated by its own state agency. This department might be called the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy of New York State. Many other sectors of New York State’s economy have their own agency. Agriculture has Ag & Market. Motor vehicles are regulated by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Airlines, railroad, and utilities all have their own separate regulatory agencies. Teachers have the Department of Education and small businesses have the Chamber of Commerce. It’s time for New York State to form a separate agency to regulate and promote gas and oil industry and New York State energy independence. The new department head of the New York Mineral Resources and Energy Department will be headed by an individual who has worked in the gas and oil industry and has taught production drilling and regulations at the university level. A prime candidate who meets this criteria right now is Dr. Scott Cline. A second issue will need to be addressed. All agencies in New York State will have input, but final decisions on what will be in the regulations in harvesting of natural gas or oil in the state of New York will be done by this new department. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing will no longer be called fracking. The new word for this process will be called, USA S.E.E.T. for energy independence. S.E.E.T. - Shale Energy Extraction Technology. Another term could be, S.A.F.E.- Shale Assisted Fissure Expansion-SAFE. Marcellus and Utica Shale formations will be harvested by the S.A.F.E. drilling processes in New York! Neil Vitale