Thursday, March 29, 2012

Attention Landowners!

Dear Friends, Coalition Leaders and Landowners, It is very satisfying to see and hear so many positive signs that we are getting closer to leasing our land and developing our natural gas in New York . While I can’t predict exactly when it will happen, the road blocks we have faced in NY should soon be removed allowing us to exercise the rights and realize the opportunities we have waited nearly 4 years to enjoy. Please keep in mind that after NY opens up it may take a little while longer for serious, legitimate leasing companies to work with coalitions to come to terms on mutually rewarding and protective lease offers. Beware though that as this comes to be there will also be opportunists in your area looking to take advantage of those that feel they just simply can’t wait any longer. Their plan is to prey on that impatience to talk people (and even coalitions) into signing low ball risky leases just before NY opens up and negotiations with coalitions start. They think that time is now! Their first goal is to collect as many cheaply leased acres as they can, as fast as they are able to, possibly with no intention of actually producing gas or royalties. While they will deny their intentions, they know that once NY opens up leases will become more rewarding and protective than what they can offer. They wouldn’t make their early low quality offers if they didn’t believe that! Their second goal is to flip the cheap leases they acquire for more lucrative deals with serious companies. These early speculators will make a fast buck at the expense of the people who sign with them. These early offers may even come from a neighbor that a company enlists to peddle their offer in an attempt to disguise it as a landowner friendly rewarding coalition lease coming from a trusted source. Fortunately there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself. First and foremost, consult an attorney of your own who is experienced in gas leasing issues if you are approached with an offer. Second, have a clause in your lease that provides you with a share of the profits if the lease is flipped. If a company will not agree, it should be a warning that they may be looking to flip for a profit at your expense. There are many ways to draft such a clause, and many other important protective clauses (Pugh, Indemnification, Incurred Fees, and many more) to have, so again consult an attorney who is experienced in gas leasing issues. Third, do not rely on the company’s representative or attorney to advise you. Even if his fee comes out of your money, he does not represent you or your interests. Consult an attorney of your own who is experienced in gas leasing issues. Fourth, join a coalition and encourage all of your neighbors to do the same. Alert your coalition leaders to any gas leasing/development activity or offers you learn of. Keep informed of what your coalition and others are doing. Do not try to go solo. There is strength in numbers. But even when in a coalition, consult an attorney of your own who is experienced in gas leasing issues. Fifth, beware that anyone who has not been involved in leading a coalition previously but suddenly starts promoting a lease may be acting on behalf of a single company rather than seeking competitive offers from multiple companies as most coalitions seek to do. While such an offer may be good, rewarding, protective, and legitimate, consult an attorney of your own who is experienced in gas leasing issues before signing the offer. I hope this helps to put matters in a positive yet sensible perspective. Now more than ever patience and caution is required to realize what we have been working for. The JLCNY and local coalitions have been fighting very hard for each and every landowner’s benefit. But when it comes time to sign an offer only you and your attorney can assure you’re doing what is right for you. I urge you not to throw away your years of waiting in a moment of careless impatience. Prepare yourself now to proceed cautiously but confidently towards realizing what you’ve been waiting for. You’re almost there! Warm Regards, Dan Fitzsimmons, President Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Time Is Right For Natural Gas Vehicles

By Mitchell Schnurman High gasoline prices are sending a strong signal to the market: The time is right for natural gas in cars and trucks. The question is whether that message is enough. Last week, the Senate rejected tax breaks to encourage production of natural gas vehicles and fueling stations, choosing to let free markets alone dictate how this transportation sector develops. Activity has accelerated recently, coinciding nicely with rising prices at the pump. Detroit's Big Three automakers unveiled trucks to run on natural gas, and Chesapeake Energy struck deals with General Electric and 3M to supply key products to the emerging business. That's happening without government help, so why jump in and mess with the invisible hand? Because the segment remains tiny and momentum can stall. In 1993, T. Boone Pickens started pushing natural gas as a transportation fuel, and a few fleets and government agencies got on board. At the time, Pickens predicted that 20 million natural gas vehicles would be on the road by 2010, a slogan that's still on some coasters in local offices. The vehicle count only reached about 110,000, a thin fraction of the U.S. fleet of 250 million. Many fueling stations that opened in the '90s practically dried up. Blame it on falling oil prices in the 1990s, which ended the urgency for the costly conversion to natural gas. The resolve to diversify that energy supply withered, too, and that's one of the downsides of letting the market decide on its own. The United States has more natural gas and more cars and trucks than anywhere in the world. But 16 countries have more natural gas vehicles, including Argentina, Brazil and Italy, whose governments pushed the idea hard in recent years. We prefer a lighter regulatory hand. But as Pickens wrote in an op-ed before the Senate vote: "You have your head buried in the sand if you think energy globally is a free market." OPEC is a cartel and oil giant China is far from a free-market economy, said Pickens, who's leading the natural gas charge again. Big Oil has its share of tax incentives, too, so there's reason to promote a nascent domestic business with a big payoff possibility. But the conservative Heritage Foundation said the federal government couldn't afford to throw money around, especially up to $5 billion on an industry that doesn't need any help. The Wall Street Journal weighed in with a blistering editorial titled "Boone-Doggle." Natural gas already has a big cost advantage, the Journal wrote, and "there were no subsidies for Henry Ford to build the Model T, and no tax incentives for gas stations in every town in America." The Senate vote was 51-47 in favor of the amendment to the transportation bill, including five Republicans. But that was short of the 60-vote margin needed for passage. Both Texas senators voted against it, even though Texas generated a quarter of the country's natural gas production last year, easily the most of any state. And much occurs in North Texas' Barnett Shale, whose success in fracking has inspired new drilling worldwide. Thanks to that technology, homegrown natural gas has become abundant and cheap. Natural gas vehicles would save $1 to $1.50 a gallon at today's fuel costs and spew less pollution. A big impact could come from just the country's 8 million heavy-duty trucks, and much of the conversion effort is focused on that. They burn about 20,000 gallons of fuel a year, so it takes less time to recoup the upfront costs. Those expenses are already coming down, as engine production grows. A Class 8 truck, which includes tractors and garbage trucks, costs about $40,000 more to outfit for natural gas, compared with a diesel model. Three years ago, the premium was at least $60,000, an industry expert said. A tax credit would cover that differential and spur more sales and lower prices, according to supporters. Other credits would encourage more fueling stations, including a national network so long-haul truckers could cross the country. There has to be enough infrastructure or customers won't buy natural gas vehicles, Andrew Littlefair, CEO of Clean Energy Fuels, told a House committee in September. A fee at the pump, paid by natural gas vehicles, would cover the costs of the tax breaks. Pickens compared the fee to a toll road, supported only by its users. The proposed fee would start at 2.5 cents a gallon in 2014 and rise to 12.5 cents a gallon in 2020. The credits would be available for five years and the payback fees would last for 10, although opponents questioned whether Washington would ever end the arrangement. Certainly, the industry plans to push the proposal again this year. It's making a nuanced argument: Natural gas vehicles are showing enough success to be worthy of federal support, but imagine how a federal boost could help. The change among heavy trucks is going to happen in 10 to 15 years, Littlefair said. With federal tax breaks, he said, it would happen in five. And if the entire heavy truck fleet ran on liquefied natural gas, OPEC oil imports would be cut in half. Consider that the next time politicians say we can't do anything about rising gasoline prices. Mitchell Schnurman's column appears Sundays and Thursdays, 817-390-7821Twitter: @mitchschnurman Read more here:

Monday, March 19, 2012

SCLOC Political Action Committee Minutes

Monday, March 12, 2012 The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman Jeff Heller at the St. Joseph’s Church hall, Campbell, NY. Present: Jeff and Kathy Heller, Ken and LaVera Knowles, Dana Knowles, John Bloise, David and Karen Ballard, Leo and Linda Knowles, Neil Vitale, Gordon Foster, Ellen Zver, Rita Petras, Elaine Swiler, Ed Heagle, Bill Lock, Peter Olausson, Fran and Jim Rising, and Tim Olszowy. Jeff said he has scheduled two times for tour of the Corning Natural Gas compressor plant: March 21, 2 p.m. and March 22, 5 or 5:30 p.m. He asked who wanted to attend which tour. Those touring will meet at the CNG headquarters building in Corning and travel to the compressor from there. He was not sure the length of time the tours would be. He will let people know details as it approaches. People that stayed for the Campbell Town Board meeting vote on the 24 month moratorium of man-camps, rv parks, etc. arrived at 7:08 p.m. The Campbell board approved that moratorium 4-1. Some discussion showed our group was unanimous that this is not a good step. Gordon introduced Barry Rogers, LFG Technologies. Mr. Rogers built the Steuben County landfill generator. He gave a detailed background of his company. LFG takes landfill gas and uses it to generate electricity to sell electricity to the grid. He was asked if we have drilled wells and available gas, can we do a generator and make it work as a cooperative among landowners. Mr. Rogers said money (as this is very costly) and NYS were major problems for individuals to do this. Jeff went to Dansville and Freemont Board meetings. He was well met at the Dansville meeting. Clean Energy Now. Mr. Simontelli will be sending a resolution for Town Boards who are definitely pro-drilling to sign. Jeff talked of The Leader newspaper. Neil spoke of the JLC meetings. Jennifer Huntington, is standing up to her town. Donations for this appeal can be sent to NBT Bank, 2 Commons Drive, Cooperstown, NY 13326 – make check payable to Middlefield Fund for Landowner Rights. JLC is also holding a fundraiser. Windsor’s 1st Annual Chili Cook-Off, Saturday, April 21, 2:00-5:00 p.m. at the Windsor Central High School, Rte. 79, Windsor, NY. Doorprize tickets are 1 for $5.00 or 5 for $20.00. The JLC clambake will be held again this year and is scheduled for June 15th. JLC is hosting a Job Fair at the Broome Community College, April 11th from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. This is free to all. Workers from throughout NY and PA are encouraged to attend. Contact Steve Herz ( ) if you would like information on setting up a booth. Neil said Scott Kurkowski attended the NAPE convention and hears much talk of Utica Shale in NYS. Bill Locke reviewed what JLC has done. Bob Williams has put together a slide presentation on the local impacts from natural gas. The goal is to educate individuals, businesses and community leaders. They are putting together a training manual on how to put on this presentation. Part 1 is a general introduction and Part 2 is financial benefits. Bill will be going thru the training. Bill said this presentation would be good for Rotary and Lyons Clubs, Town and school boards, etc. It is best to go to a closed meeting, rather than as a speaker. Two people are needed for the presentation: 1 to give it and 1 to field questions. The presentation lasts about 40 minutes with question and answers. JLC is still working on this presentation and will come to our area for training. Kenny said we need help from anyone. Don’t be afraid to get people to help us and invite those to our meetings. Jeff read the letter that had been sent out to all Towns in Steuben County as a result of the Town of Wayne moratorium. This letter is posted on the SCLOC website. Next meeting will be Monday, April 9, 7:00 p.m. at the CNGBF Room. Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m. with a motion from Leo and second from Rita. Respectfully Submitted, Linda J. Knowles Secretary

Saturday, March 10, 2012

President Obama Announces Billion Dollar Plan

Obama Announces Billion Dollar Plan To Increase Infrastructure For Alternative Energy Vehicles. National Association of Manufacturers National Manufacturing Daily Press Brief 3/8/2012 The Detroit Free Press (3/8, Spangler) reports that, during a visit to a Daimler Trucks North America plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina, "President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed an expanded $1-billion energy initiative that would help 10 to 15 communities across the US develop infrastructure to support alternative fuel vehicles." The Free Press reports, "Unlike a similar plan drawn up previously, the new $1-billion National Community Deployment Challenge to help selected communities invest in necessary infrastructure for alternative fuel vehicles will not be tied to electric vehicles, allowing, the White House said, 'communities to determine if electrification, natural gas or other alternative fuels would be the best fit.' The program would support the development of as many as five liquid natural gas corridors where alternative fuel trucks would be able to transport goods without using any gasoline or diesel." Bloomberg News (3/8, Runningen) reports Obama also "proposed expanded tax credits." The President "is asking Congress to make two changes in tax law to coax drivers into less-polluting vehicles. One would raise the tax credit to $10,000 from $7,500 for the purchase of a so- called advanced vehicle. The credit would be applied instantly at the dealership, according to a White House fact sheet." The Detroit News (3/8, Shepardson) adds, "It would also reform the credit for EVs - so it is no longer based on the size of the battery - meaning some plug-ins would qualify for larger credits." Also, the administration "is proposing to spend $1.7 billion to create a new credit to allow commercial truck buyers to get credit for half of the additional costs of buying an advanced-technology vehicle. Under new rules, medium and heavy duty trucks must improve efficiency by about 20 percent by 2018. The government estimates it will provide $49 billion in benefits - but will add $8 billion to the cost of the vehicles." CNNMoney (3/8, Valdes-Dapena) reports, "Mike Levine, spokesman for Ford trucks, pointed out that Ford already has the broadest range of commercial trucks, including vans and large pickups, with natural gas-ready engines. With more demand, he said, Ford is ready to do more with natural gas commercial trucks. Both General Motors and Chrysler Group have announced they will soon be making bi-fuel pickups that can run on both natural gas and gasoline." Portfolio (3/7, Hoover) reports, "Meanwhile, the president once again called for eliminating tax breaks for domestic oil and natural-gas production. That 'would make a bad situation worse by discouraging oil and gas investments in the United States, increasing energy costs, and making us less competitive,' said Dorothy Coleman, vice president of tax and domestic economic policy at the National Association of Manufacturers." Also covering the story are the Wall Street Journal (3/8, Favole, Subscription Publication), Politico (3/8, Epstein, Wolfe), the Cleveland Plain Dealer (3/8, Nieves), The Hill (3/7, Geman) "E2 Wire" blog and other media sources

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gov. Cuomo Comments on Gas Drilling.

By ERIK KRISS in NY Post Last Updated: 5:54 AM, March 3, 2012 AP ALBANY — When it comes to fracking in upstate New York, Gov. Cuomo says the issue isn’t whether it will happen — it’s how it will happen. “I don’t think the question was, ‘Should we develop natural gas?’ ” Cuomo said on Albany’s Talk 1300 AM radio yesterday. “The question is the protections, and how, and the regulations, and that’s what DEC [the Department of Environmental Conservation] is working through.” Environmental groups that oppose drilling into upstate’s Marcellus Shale with a high-pressure chemical-and-water mix reacted warily. “If he is saying they have already prejudged the decision and they are just figuring out the fine points, Riverkeeper will be very disappointed, and I’m sure other groups will as well,” said program director Kate Hudson. “We are hopeful that what he means is . . . they are still working on collecting facts.” Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said no fracking determinations have been made and “we are still doing the analysis.” But Cuomo yesterday called natural gas “a great resource. It helps this country. It helps the economy in many different ways.” DEC has predicted hydrofracking could create nearly 54,000 jobs upstate, but opponents claim the practice could endanger water supplies.