Tuesday January 23, 2018

Dear Friends, Natural Gas Supporters, and Propane Customers,
Last winter, you as consumers paid more to stay warm because New York’s propane storage infrastructure is out of date. In fact, New Yorkers paid $100 Million more in propane costs, because local dealers had to look as far away as Washington State to find enough propane supply. That is because the State has not approved new propane storage here in New York.
Fortunately, there is a proposed propane storage facility in the Finger Lakes that is shovel ready and can help prevent future propane shortages and price spikes. This project also means new jobs and investment Upstate, and more affordable energy bills for all of us each year.
The project has been awaiting State approval for nearly 5 years. Finally, there is something we can do about it in order to prevent another costly winter.
This Monday, June 9th at 5:30pm, the Schuyler County legislature, which represents the area where the facility would be located, is voting on a resolution to support the project.
Your Attendance is Needed!
If you live or work in this region, we urge you to make plans to attend. The vote is a tremendous opportunity to stand up as common sense consumers and send a message to the State that we need a stronger propane system. The legislators voting must see supporters of the project in the room.
What:   County Legislature Resolution Vote on the Finger Lakes LPG Project

    Schuyler County Courthouse
    105 Ninth Street
    Watkins Glen, NY

When:  Please arrive no later than 5:30pm to ensure seating. Meeting begins at 6:30.
If you can attend, please click the link below to RSVP and enter your shirt size to receive instructions and a free Crestwood t-shirt to wear to the meeting.
As always, thank you for your support of thee matters so important to all landowners.
Warm Regards,
Dan Fitzsimmons, President
Joint Landowners Coalition of NY, Inc.
Please understand that this is an important "NY Energy Storage For the Benefit of ALL NY Residents" type of issue so we're asking you to please speak out in favor of the resolutions. Learn more by clicking on the "NYers can save $100 Million in Propane Costs" window located in the top right corner of the JLCNY homepage (http://www.jlcny.org/site).
Even if you cannot attend, please express your support for passing the resolution at Monday's meeting by emailing Stacy Husted, Schuyler County Clerk, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Ask her to share your supportive comments with the legislature before Monday's meeting and vote.
Also, please contact each legislator individually by going to this link:
And use the contact information below.
Please do this even if you're not a Schuyler County resident. The antis will have protesters from all across America calling and emailing these legislators. So please don't be shy about expressing your support for passing the resolution at Monday's meeting to these legislators:
Dennis A. Fagan
PO Box 335
Tyrone, NY 14887
607-292-3687 (H)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Thomas M. Gifford
137 Turner Park PO Box 106
Montour Falls, NY 14865
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Stewart F. Field, Jr.
2392 Old Road
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Barbara J. Halpin
2845 Newtown Road
Odessa, NY 14869
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Philip C. Barnes
203 Lakeview Ave
Watkins glen, NY 14891
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Van A. Harp
4363 Cartmell Lane
Burdett, NY 14818
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Michael Lausell
5120 County Road 4
Burdett, NY 14818
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
James J.D. Howell, Jr.
132 Turner Park
Montour Falls, NY 14865
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"More to come from the JLCNY"

From The DEC Website       For Release: Thursday, September 20, 2012

Statement of Commissioner Joseph Martens

"DEC has been reviewing approximately 80,000 comments submitted concerning the Department's review of high volume hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking). While a wide variety of issues are addressed by the comments, many focus on the potential public health impacts of high volume hydrofracking.

I have had numerous conversations with many of the parties on all sides of this issue. I have recently met with several of the groups who have raised public health concerns and it is clear they are not satisfied with the Department's effort to address potential public health impacts. The groups would require that DEC conduct an outside health study that would determine the outcome of the final decision. I reject that demand. I believe it is highly likely that some of these groups will pursue litigation following the conclusion of the Departmental process if they do not agree with the outcome.

I believe deferring to an outside group or entity would be an inappropriate delegation of a governmental responsibility. Government is the public's independent reviewer: that is the essence of the current process. To suggest private interests or academic experts bring more independence to the process than government is exactly wrong. Many experts in this field have an opinion - pro or con- which could influence the process. Nor could one ever be sure that there weren't potential conflicts of interest with outside consultants if they were to actually direct the outcome. It is the government's responsibility to ensure objectivity and a review directed by DEC and the Department of Health is without bias.

The Governor's instructions have been clear from the outset - let the science determine the outcome.

Fundamentally, I want to make sure that we have done the most thorough review possible, especially when it comes to public health concerns. In addition, I want to ensure that the Department has the most legally defensible review so that when the Department issues its final determination on this matter, protracted litigation is avoided, whatever the outcome.

Accordingly, I have asked and NYS Health Commissioner Nirav Shah has agreed to assess the Department's health impact analysis. I have also asked Dr. Shah to identify the most qualified outside experts to advise him in his review. While the review will be informed by outside perspectives on the science of hydrofracking, the decision-making will remain a governmental responsibility.

Only after this evaluation is completed will a decision be made about whether to permit high volume hydraulic fracturing in New York. Obviously if there was a public health concern that could not be addressed we would not proceed. The process to date has been designed to maintain public trust in the integrity of DEC's review, and Dr. Shah's assessment will assure New Yorkers that we have thoroughly examined all the issues before making a final decision. The review will also ensure the strongest possible legal position for the Department given the near certainty of litigation, whether the Department permits hydrofracking or not.

I believe this action addresses any legitimate request for additional due diligence and study as well as ensuring DEC's ultimate decision on hydraulic fracturing is beyond reproach either as a matter of law or as policy. I believe the action also protects the independence of the DEC while availing ourselves of the best possible advice from the private and academic sectors. While I am sure these actions will not satisfy all parties, I do believe it will result in the most thorough review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the nation, regardless of the final decision."

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?


Rob Wile in Business Insider 9/12/2012

The Environmental Defense Fund's chief counsel has written a blog post detailing the non-profit's support for hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.

The EDF is well known for pouring money into global warming, clean air and oil spill cleanup fights.

In the case of fracking, Brownstein says, it mainly comes down to eliminating coal.

"We fear that those who oppose all natural gas production everywhere are, in effect, making it harder for the U.S. economy to wean itself from dirty coal," he said.

The fund's Mark Brownstein lays out three reasons to back natgas:

  • Fracking is already a common, widespread practice
  • On balance, they'd rather see natural gas-powered electricity plans than coal-powered ones. "We are glad to see these coal plants go," he says. Plus, natural gas is the feedstock for chemicals, pharmaceuticals and fertilizer, and for direct heating and cooling
  • Any potential hazards can be regulated. "Effective oversight and enforcement with the necessary financial and human resources [can] make [regulations] real.

He closes thusly:

Natural gas production can never be made entirely safe; like any intensive industrial activity, it involves risks. But having studied the issue closely, we are convinced that if tough rules, oversight and penalties for noncompliance are put in place, these risks become manageable.

NEW YORK POST Last Updated: 10:43 PM, September 15, 2012 Posted: September 16, 2012 Editorial

Gov. Cuomo wasn’t exactly letting a dark secret out of the bag last week when he said New York can’t expect to see hydrofracking begin anytime soon.

But it’s discouraging that the governor seems to be in no particular hurry to get the process moving.

Cuomo said last Monday that he won’t set a deadline for the Department of Environmental Conservation to finish its years-long study of the controversial process of natural-gas extraction.

“When it’s done, and when they’re prepared, then we’ll announce the decision” of whether to approve fracking, he said.

And even that won’t be the end of it, added the governor, because any decision will inevitably lead to “a series of legal challenges and political challenges.”

In other words, “It’s going to be an ongoing situation for a long, long time.”


Maybe Cuomo was just being candid, but there’s a fine line between predicting long delays and encouraging them — and the governor is perilously close to crossing it.

If he hasn’t already.

And make no mistake: Delay — and lots of it — is precisely what the opponents of fracking are counting on.

Fact is, DEC’s is hardly the only study ever done of fracking, in which gas is extracted by fracturing shale with a high-pressure mixture of water and chemicals.

That fracking is safe has been shown time after time — which is why New York is the only state where it isn’t now allowed as a matter of routine.

To no scientifically demonstrable ill-effect whatsoever.

Delaying this survey for much longer strongly suggests an attempt to foot-drag the project to death.

Alas, New York — and particularly the economically depressed upstate region — needs the fracking jobs, economic development and tax revenues that have been a boon to neighboring states, like Pennsylvania.

As a spokesman for the gas industry noted, this is rapidly shaping up as “not just a missed opportunity” but “a risk of losing a whole industry.”

And that’s something New York simply can’t afford.
In Triblive.com  By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published: Saturday, September 15, 2012, 11:54 p.m.
Updated: Sunday, September 16, 2012

WILLISTON, N.D. — In a booming economy, even oil and water can mix.

Chris Duell left his Detroit home at the age of 30 to start a water filtration business in this isolated town just north of the Missouri River.

It was 2008, and more than a mile below the quiet region near the Montana border, dozens of drill bits turned horizontally to burrow into the Bakken shale formation.

The horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology that ignited the Marcellus shale natural gas boom cracked open one of the largest oil fields in the United States. By this spring, barely four years after Williston’s boom began in earnest, North Dakota produced more oil than Alaska.

For Duell, a $100,000 investment grew into three businesses worth an estimated $2 million.

“It’s an entrepreneur’s dream,” said Duell, 33.

Surging domestic oil production occurs at an unsettled time for the country’s energy landscape. The nuclear industry is restarting a revival stalled by the recession, and renewable energy has undergone swift but highly subsidized growth. Taken together, these developments are changing where, how and at what cost the world’s largest economy gets its power.

“This could be a game-changer,” Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Corp., said of the increase in recoverable domestic oil and gas. It could have an economic effect on par with “the invention of the semi-conductor. ... It’s a big deal.”

Proven domestic crude oil reserves rose to their highest level since 1992. A deposit of oil shale — which can be turned into crude through extensive, expensive processing — lies under Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

It could contain as much recoverable oil as the rest of the world’s proven reserves combined, according to a federal report.

“We no longer have a gun to our head,” Augustine said. Newly unlocked reserves provide “time to invest in research to come up with new, clean, sustainable, affordable forms of energy.”

‘Green’ growth

Federal subsidies for renewable energy spiked to $14.7 billion in 2010, in part because of $6.2 billion from the stimulus bill, according to the Energy Information Agency. That compares with subsidies of $2.8 billion for natural gas and petroleum, $2.5 billion for nuclear, and $1.4 billion for coal that year. In 2007, renewable energy subsidies totaled just more than $5 billion.

The money helped double the amount of electricity that wind and solar generate, and that production cut the cost of wind turbines and solar arrays in half over the past two years, said Dave Danielson, the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Danielson estimated solar and wind energy will compete with fossil and nuclear power without federal subsidies in five or 10 years.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized those subsidies as taxpayer giveaways to private companies. Romney’s energy policy says solar and wind “remain sharply uncompetitive on their own” and would end the subsidies.

Industry analysts predict foreign governments will continue spending on renewable energy technology.

“The United States can either step up, invest in this now, take advantage of our competitive advantage in innovation and entrepreneurship, and come out in the next five to 10 years as the leader ... or we can stand on the sidelines and cede global leadership to other countries like China and India and Germany,” Danielson said.

Japan plans to spend $487 billion on renewable energy over the next 20 years as it phases out nuclear power by 2040, according to an energy policy announced Friday by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The energy policy is Japan’s first since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown in 2011, which prompted Germany to abandon nuclear power as well. China and India are investing in renewable power to meet the demand created as swaths of the two most-populous countries move into the middle class.

Nuclear option

“The Germans decided after Fukushima, ‘we’re done,’” said Joe Zwetolitz, president of Westinghouse Americas at Westinghouse Electric Co. in Cranberry. “They’re the outliers. The speed with which they made that decision says to me that that was already in their minds before Fukushima.”

The nuclear accident, the worst since Chernobyl in 1986, occurred after an earthquake-spawned tsunami knocked out the plant’s backup generators and cut circulation of coolant to reactors. The disaster offered a selling point for Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor, which has a passive cooling system that uses gravity to run coolant, Zwetolitz said.

Despite Germany’s decision, “Fukushima for the United States did not delay the renaissance” in nuclear energy, Zwetolitz said. Westinghouse is constructing the first four U.S. reactors in 30 years — two at a South Carolina power plant, and two at a Georgia plant. China has 20 reactors under construction and 40 planned, Zwetolitz said.

History repeats

The last time Americans endured a downturn as bad as this — the Great Depression of the 1930s — the discovery of an enormous oil field, nicknamed the Black Giant, brought a rush of people and tumultuous prosperity to a rural corner of East Texas.

In the dusty fields and low, rough-hewn hills of Western North Dakota, history is repeating.

Herb Nolan drove to Williston from Spokane, Wash., in early August, hoping to find work on a drilling rig. Pulling into town, he stopped at a gas station to fill up, and someone approached to ask if he needed a job.

“I was here, like, five minutes,” said Nolan, 51. The man offered $750 a week to help erect grain bins on farms surrounding Williston. “I first told him no, but then I realized I was short on cash, so I said yes.”

Eleven counties in the country had unemployment rates lower than 2.1 percent in July; 10 of them are in western North Dakota.

The census estimated Williston’s population at 16,000 in 2011, up from less than 15,000 a year before. Add those who live in Williston but don’t call it home — oil field roughnecks, temporary laborers and new arrivals looking for work — and there could be as many as 30,000 people in an area built for half that number.

Lines of semi trailers rumble to and from the town along congested Highway 2, against the backdrop of prairie. Miles of light-blue pipe lie in segments alongside roadways. Bare electrical towers crisscross fields, awaiting power cables.

“Right now, if you come into town, you can find a job very easily, but finding housing is very hard. Because supply and demand are nowhere near each other, if you can find an apartment — and I’m talking a studio or one-bedroom apartment — it could cost you $1,500 to $2,000,” said Marci Seamples, director of the Williston Area Chamber of Commerce. She moved to the area in May from Naples, Fla.

“It’s busting at the seams.”


Reported by: Bobby Brooks 

Print Story Published: 9/12 5:34 pm Share Updated: 9/12 8:18 pm

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.
All LAND OWNERS who attended presented a calm, undeniable presence and it is very much appreciated!! We need to stand up more frequently than we have in the recent past. Seems that we may have been too courteous and certianly way too trusting of our state leadership!! THANK YOU

Dear Friends, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,

Over the past several weeks I’ve been hearing stronger and stronger words of impatience, frustration, and anger from supporters upset by the latest delays in releasing the SGEIS. I too feel the same way!

We were promised that the SGIES would be based on science and released by the end of summer. Instead we’re being strung along with more delays for the sake of political pandering to an emotionally charged crusade waged by a vocal anti-gas minority. Our rights and desires are not just being ignored, they’re being crucified! We’re being taken advantage of when the science has proven that there is no reason to do so!

Who wouldn’t get frustrated by such a lack of leadership?

To top it all off, this coming Saturday (September 15th) anti-gas protestors and candidates promoting their mis-information will have a “rally” at Otsiningo Park in Binghamton NY. Timed to coincide with the weekly farmers market that the rally will be near, they will be telling everyone that FRACKING will destroy our water and food!

Can you believe that??!!

Speakers will include protestors who have led misleading campaigns like Sue Rapp of Vestal Residents for Safe Energy, anti-gas political candidates such as candidate for US Congress, Dan Lamb, and candidate for Broome County Executive, Tarik Abdelazim, and anti-gas author and protestor, Dr. Sandra Steingraber. It is being organized by a professional activist employed by the anti-gas group Citizen’s Action of New York (an affiliate of the national Anti-gas and activism group US Action, just so you know that this is being orchestrated on a national level), Isaac Silberman-Gorn.
Are you getting mad yet?!

Make no mistake. This isn’t about the science and facts anymore. This is now about politics. More specifically, for the protestors it is about the politics of instilling unwarranted, misplaced, and untrue fear in the public. That is the goal of the protestors’ rally this weekend, spreading propaganda, pure and simple.
Doesn’t that just burn you up!? It does me!!

Well, now it’s time to put that anger to positive use!!
For us, this “rally” is a great opportunity to refute the lies that have been proven to have not even the slightest bit of evidence or credibility backing them up. It is great chance to ask the speakers where their evidence of certain doom and gloom is. Mix in with the crowd, and ask the tough questions that they can't answer! It is the time to show the public how baseless and wrong the protestors’ fear mongering is.

So I’m asking you to be there. Please bring money to buy locally grown goods, and responsible mature attitudes! But most of all bring the message that Natural Gas development has been and will be safe and responsible. We need to start waging a public information campaign and getting our faces and voices out in public has to happen. We need to respectfully, calmly, and professionally let the public hear our message that natural gas development is safe and beneficial for all. We need to start this campaign this weekend.
Please be at Otsiningo Park at 10:30 AM (to possibly as late as 1:00PM if you can), near the farmers market, on Saturday September 15th.
If you live in western NY and can’t make it to Binghamton, here is another similar event I’m asking you to please attend…

Rally & March in Painted Post, Steuben County at 2-4pm in Craig Park

Speakers & then 1.5 mi march through village commercial district and water withdrawal/railroad route.
Topics to include Aquifer depletion, Night time train noise, Drill cuttings in local landfills, Our children’s health is our highest priority, Celebrate our clean water, land, and air, The Power is with us, the People
Directions to both locations are at the end of this request.

Thank You in Advance For Attending,

Dan Fitzsimmons, President
Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.

TO OTSININGO PARK, 1 Otsiningo Park, Binghamton, NY 13901

FROM THE WEST: Take Rt. 17 East to Exit 72 (Front Street). Turn left at the traffic signal onto Front Street (Rt. 11 North). Turn right at first traffic signal onto Bevier Street. Otsiningo Park entrance is immediately on the left.
FROM THE EAST: Take Rt. 17 West to I-81 North to Exit 5 (Front Street). Turn left at traffic signal onto Front Street (Rt. 11South). Turn left at first traffic signal onto Bevier Street. Otsiningo Park entrance is immediately on the left.
FROM THE NORTH: Take I-81 South to Exit 5 (Front Street). Turn left at the traffic signal onto Front Street (Rt. 11 South). Turn left at the second traffic signal onto Bevier Street. Otsiningo Park entrance is immediately on the left.
FROM THE NORTHEAST: Take I-88 West to I-81 South to Exit 5 (Front Street). Turn left at the traffic signal onto Front Street (Rt. 11South). Turn left at the second traffic signal onto Bevier Street. Otsiningo Park entrance is immediately on the left.FROM THE SOUTH: Take I-81 North to Exit 5 (Front Street). Turn left at the traffic signal onto Front Street (Rt. 11 South). Turn left at the first traffic signal onto Bevier Street. Otsiningo Park is immediately on the left.

TO CRAIG PARK, 110 Steuben St., Painted Post, NY 14870

From the East: Take I-86 to exit 43 for Painted Post.  Turn right at the light onto Rt-415/Coopers-Bath Rd.  Proceed approximately .5 mile to entrance to Craig Park.  It's the first right just after the entrance to Corning-Painted Post West High School.  The entrance is at a 135 degree angle with the road you're on.  Proceed to large pavilion.  Lots of parking if you loop around the pavilion to the back.
From the West: Take I-86 to exit 43 for Painted Post.  Turn left onto Rt-415/Coopers-Bath Rd.  Proceed approximately .5 mile to entrance to Craig Park. It's the first right just after the entrance to Corning-Painted Post West High School. The entrance is at a 135 degree angle with the road you're on.  Proceed to large pavilion. Lots of parking if you loop around the pavilion to the back.

Hydrofracking section of Quinnipiac University poll

September 12, 2012 - New York Voters Want Cuomo To Clean Up Corruption, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Upstate Voters Tip State In Favor Of Drilling


By a narrow 45 - 41 percent, New York State voters say the economic benefits of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale outweigh the environmental concerns. Republicans support drilling 72 - 16 percent while Democrats are opposed 54 - 31 percent and independent voters are divided with 46 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed.

Upstate voters support drilling 48 - 40 percent, up from 43 - 44 percent in a July 26 Quinnipiac University poll and the strongest upstate support since a 51 - 39 percent result when the question first was asked August 11, 2011. New York City voters are split with 41 percent for drilling and 44 percent opposed. Suburban voters support drilling 49 - 39 percent.

Drilling will create jobs, voters say 81 - 12 percent, with no opposition from any group.

But hydro-fracking will damage the environment, voters say 48 - 14 percent, with 37 percent undecided.

"Upstate voters, who have the most to gain, and the most to lose, have tipped the statewide balance in favor of drilling for natural gas," Carroll said.

From September 4 - 9, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,589 New York State voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

Excerpt from the Fred Dicker's Radio show in the form of the transcript of the interview for the period of time in question:

Date: Monday, September 10, 2012
Time Frame
: 45:05 – 47:38

Dicker: Let me ask you about some other pending things, the hydrofracking decision – It was expected in the spring, it was expected in the summer then around Labor Day and now it’s after Labor Day; what’s the latest on that? If you could tell us?

Cuomo: I don’t think any recent developments – they are working through it, it is very complicated and gets more complicated not less complicated. Uh.. (Dicker interrupts Cuomo)

Dicker: This isn’t a matter of political cold feet? Or uh, what some could say to the growing opposition, it is also the growing push-back to the growing opposition? That’s not being factored in here with the election coming up?

Cuomo: And what the Presidential would make a difference here?

Dicker: Well, local elections as well that are coming up and that could make a difference where  it’s an issue in some of the races.

Cuomo: Yeah no, I think it is more the facts, and making sure you have the science, and the legal review – it is a highly controversial issue I would anticipate legal challenges whatever the decision is and some of those legal challenges or the premise of the legal challenges are being voiced now, I can hear the lawyer’s voice in some of these “political arguments.” So, making sure whatever the decision is, it’s well grounded and  anticipates legal challenges. I think that’s prudent and that’s what they are doing now.

Dicker: Do you expect the decision before the elections?

Cuomo: Whenever they are ready. I don’t think the election, I don’t see any connection between the decision and the election.

Dicker: Okay, but do you think there will be a decision before election day? Just to say weeks or so? After the election? Before the year end? Could it be next year?

Cuomo: You know I’m not doing that to DEC Fred, I’m not saying I want it by the election or after the election. When it is done and they’re prepared, that is when we’ll announce the decision. And remember, the announcing of the decision is not going to be the conclusion, I promise you there will be lawsuits, whatever the decision is. The day right after decision there will be another press conference that says: “Now, we’re going to Step 2, which is a series of legal challenges and political challenges and we’re trying to get federal legislation and state legislation,” so it’s going to be an on-going situation for a long time.


Both the Republicans and the Democrats mentioned natural gas production in their 2012 party platforms, calling it a path towards energy independence and a way to create new jobs. The Independent Oil and Gas Association has been using those same arguments for allowing hydrofracking in New York. Lenape Resources president John Holko explains why he’s tired of waiting for the DEC to finish their review.


BY ROBERT SWIFT (HARRISBURG BUREAU CHIEF)  Published: September 11, 2012    The Times Tribune.com\

HARRISBURG - Marcellus Shale drillers have paid nearly $200 million in impact fees for natural gas production during 2011, state utility regulators reported Monday.

The Public Utility Commission released the first report of impact fee revenue from thousands of wells in the Marcellus Shale formation since Pennsylvania's drilling impact fee was enacted in March.

The PUC received fees totaling $197.6 million as of Monday. The total revenue due is $205.9 million.

Read the Report HERE

Fifty-eight companies paid fees, including companies active in the drilling region of Northeast Pennsylvania. Drillers were under a Sept. 1 deadline to pay this first retroactive impact fee covering 2011. The fee is for "spud" wells, where drilling had actually started.

Drillers paid fees for 4,034 horizontal wells where a $50,000 fee is being collected and 419 vertical wells assessed at $10,000 or 20 percent of the horizontal well fee.

The fee can change each year based on the average price of natural gas.

The PUC reported that four drillers are disputing information about whether one of their wells is classified as vertical or horizontal or the well's exact geographical location. The four companies are Atlas Resources LLC, Energy Corp of America, Enervest OPR LLC, Penn Virginia Oil & Gas Corp and SWEPI LP.

The impact fee paid by Atlas could be affected the most by how the disputes are received. Atlas has paid $2.4 million so far. That fee could reach $4 million.

The PUC is responsible for collecting impact fee revenue and distributing the money, with 60 percent going to counties and local governments covered under impact fee ordinances and 40 percent to statewide uses.

The agency plans to release figures on how the revenue is distributed later this year after the well status disputes are resolved.

All 37 counties, including those in the Marcellus drilling region of Northeast Pennsylvania, have adopted the necessary impact fee ordinance.

Drafters of the impact fee law welcomed the PUC report.

"Local communities will see nearly $200 million in new revenue made available to them this fall," said Eric Shirk, spokesman for Gov. Tom Corbett.

"Approximately two hundred million dollars is a reasonable and responsible fee that will not chase this important job-creating industry out of Pennsylvania," said Drew Crompton, top aide to Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, R-25, Jefferson County.

The impact fee revenue is lower than what a modest drilling tax would bring in even at today's low gas price, said the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a Harrisburg think tank that advocates a statewide severance tax on natural gas production.

A Pennsylvania severance tax modeled after the existing one in West Virginia would have generated $500 million in revenue from July 2009 to last June, the center said.

The impact fee revenue yield is a reminder of the need to uphold local zoning uniformity in the impact fee law, said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group.

The state Supreme Court hears legal arguments Thursday on an appeal of a recent Commonwealth Court ruling that struck down a provision in the impact fee law limiting the ability of municipalities to control the location of drilling activity.

Contact the writer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. collected

1. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC $30,840,000

2. Talisman Energy USA Inc. $26,440,000

3. Range Resources Appalachia LLC $23,670,000

4. Swepi LP $15,300,000

5. Anadarko E&P Co. LP $14,950,000

6. Chevron Appalachia LLC $9,380,000

7. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. $8,830,000

8. EOG Resources Inc. $8,050,000

9. EQT Production Co. $7,000,000

10. CNX Gas Co. LLC $5,700,000

Saturday, September 8, 2012 | Updated: Saturday, September 8, 2012 7:47pm in Houston Chronicle

SAN FRANCISCO - In Pennsylvania, the practice of hydraulic fracturing for each well can consume 4.5 million gallons of water, the liquid pumped deep underground to crack rocks that contain natural gas.

In parts of Texas, fracturing a well often takes 6 million gallons.

But in California, where fracking is starting to spread, the average amount of water involved is just 164,000 gallons, according to industry data.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has triggered a boom in energy production across the United States and sparked a fierce public debate that revolves around water. Critics say fracking can ruin drinking water supplies when badly built wells allow chemicals used in the process to seep into aquifers. The disposal wells that take used fracking water and bury it far beneath the earth's surface can trigger earthquakes.

And in arid Western states, the sheer volume of water that fracking requires alarms farmers and environmentalists alike.

"Here in California, as much as people worry about contamination, water supply and induced seismicity are at the front of people's minds," said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group. "The lack of data on these issues is freaking people out."

But so far, fracking in California appears to take far less water than it does elsewhere.

At the request of state regulators, some of the companies fracking here have started posting information about their wells on FracFocus.org, a website created by the oil and gas industry to allay public fears about the practice.

The site contains information on 364 fracked wells in the Golden State, most of them in the San Joaquin Valley. FracFocus lists 1,940 fracked wells in Pennsylvania - ground zero of the fracking boom.

The average amount of water used in California wells has been 164,000 gallons, according to the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group that compiled a spreadsheet of the California data.

Some fracked wells here require significantly more - 300,000 gallons and up - while others consume less. A cluster of fracked wells near Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento Valley used between 10,000 gallons and 35,000 gallons apiece.

'Small-scale' operations

An Olympic-sized swimming pool contains about 660,000 gallons of water. A golf course typically uses around 300,000 gallons per day.

"We're talking about pretty small-scale operations relative to what we've seen in the rest of the country," said Tupper Hull, the petroleum association's spokesman.

Why the difference? Geology.

In much of the United States, fracking has been combined with horizontal drilling to unlock natural gas or oil within shale rock. Imagine drilling straight down for 5,000 or 6,000 feet, then taking a right turn. Water is pumped into the well at high pressure, mixed with sand and a small amount of chemicals. The pressure cracks the shale, and the sand props those cracks open, allowing oil or gas to escape.

In California, most fracking has involved vertical wells. Vertical wells have less pipe length than horizontal wells of equal depth, because they don't veer off sideways at the bottom. They therefore require less water for fracking.

So far, horizontal wells don't appear to work well in the state's Monterey Shale formation, estimated by the federal government to be the country's largest oil shale deposit. The rock layers are too tilted and folded by relentless seismic pressure to lend themselves to horizontal wells.

"California has been folded and faulted quite a bit," said Tim Kustic, head of the state Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, which oversees oil drilling. "Depending on where you are, the same formation can be deep in one spot and outcropping on the surface 100 miles away. If it's tilting, horizontal may not be the best way to go."

In addition, most fracking in California targets oil, not natural gas. And the oil typically resides in rock formations that contain large amounts of brackish water, Kustic said. Since the pores within the rock are already full of liquid, drillers don't need to add much to increase the pressure.

"You contrast that with shale gas - the reservoir is quite dry," he said.

The amount of water pumped into a fracked well does not appear to have a direct link to the risk of contaminating drinking water supplies. Most of the cases of tainted water blamed on fracking have involved chemicals and methane migrating along the exterior of poorly constructed wells - a problem that can happen whether the well has been fracked or not.

Monterey Shale

Although the use of fracking appears to be growing in California, it hasn't taken off the way it did in Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota. The Monterey Shale is estimated to hold as much as 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil, giving companies a powerful incentive to keep drilling. The country uses about 19 million barrels per day.

The amount of water needed for fracking could grow if the practice becomes widespread, or if horizontal drilling proves more useful. At this point, however, the amount of water involved appears relatively small.

"What folks are trying to figure out in California, particularly with the Monterey Shale, is what technology is best to use to harness that resource - and that's still going on," said Rock Zierman, chief executive of the California Independent Petroleum Association.

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I suspect that although New York has been careful to not ban the use of our land outright, that  none the less they are walking a razor edge as they deprive us of the right to use our land. One would think that this would be especially so while other states across the nation are not denying their landowner rights to drill horizontally and then hydraulically fracture the casings. There is no history of issues, just the dark fears of a group of one topic zealots with lots of money generously spreading their fear. Not being a lawyer, I do not know when we New Yorkers will be deemed to have had a taking, but assure you I will be in the line contributing funds for the lawsuit. .JLCpulse

From Findlaw.com



''The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.' This is a tacit recognition of a preexisting power to take private property for public use, rather than a grant of new power.'' 160 Eminent domain ''appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.'' 161 In the early years of the nation the federal power of eminent domain lay dormant, 162 and it was not until 1876 that its existence was recognized by the Supreme Court. In Kohl v. United States 163 any doubts were laid to rest, as the Court affirmed that the power was as necessary to the existence of the National Government as it was to the existence of any State. The federal power of eminent domain is, of course, limited by the grants of power in the Constitution, so that property may only be taken for the effectuation of a granted power, 164 but once this is conceded the ambit of national powers is so wide- ranging that vast numbers of objects may be effected. 165 This prerogative of the National Government can neither be enlarged nor diminished by a State. 166 Whenever lands in a State are needed for a public purpose, Congress may authorize that they be taken, either by proceedings in the courts of the State, with its consent, or by proceedings in the courts of the United States, with or without any consent or concurrent act of the State. 167


''Prior to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment,'' the power of eminent domain of state governments ''was unrestrained by any federal authority.'' 168 The just compensation provision of the Fifth Amendment did not apply to the States, 169 and at first the contention that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment afforded property owners the same measure of protection against the States as the Fifth Amendment did against the Federal Government was rejected. 170 However, within a decade the Court rejected the opposing argument that the amount of compensation to be awarded in a state eminent domain case is solely a matter of local law. On the contrary, the Court ruled, although a state ''legislature may prescribe a form of procedure to be observed in the taking of private property for public use, . . . it is not due process of law if provision be not made for compensation. . . . The mere form of the proceeding instituted against the owner . . . cannot convert the process used into due process of law, if the necessary result be to deprive him of his property without compensation.'' 171 While the guarantees of just compensation flow from two different sources, the standards used by the Court in dealing with the issues appear to be identical, and both federal and state cases will be dealt with herein without expressly continuing to recognize the two different bases for the rulings.


It should be borne in mind that while the power of eminent domain, though it is inherent in organized governments, may only be exercised through legislation or through legislative delegation, usually to another governmental body, the power may be delegated as well to private corporations, such as public utilities, railroad and bridge companies, when they are promoting a valid public purpose. Such delegation has long been approved. 172

Public Use

Explicit in the just compensation clause is the requirement that the taking of private property be for a public use; the Court has long accepted the principle that one is deprived of his property in violation of this guarantee if a State takes the property for any reason other than a public use.

The attached address will take you to the reference document

Associated Press
Published 10:10 p.m., Thursday, September 6, 2012 in Times Union.com

ALBANY — Town officials and landowners eager for shale gas drilling to begin in the Southern Tier are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve an environmental review that's been four years in the making.

"This issue has been going on for four years," Binghamton town Supervisor Tim Whitesell said Thursday. "We understand the politics involved. But at the same time we are in a position where our residents are looking for this. It's very frustrating that we see this economic boom just south of us in Pennsylvania and we're not able to take part in it."

The Department of Environmental Conservation is completing work on an environmental impact review and new regulations for shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Opponents, citing possible adverse health, environmental and community impacts, have been holding rallies and running ads pressuring Cuomo to ban fracking in New York.

Whitesell and 21 other town supervisors in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale region sent a letter to Cuomo on Wednesday urging him "to direct the DEC to move forward as soon as possible with rules and regulations governing the process and to begin permitting."

The letter says more than 40 towns have passed resolutions in favor of drilling and hydraulic fracturing. More than 130 communities have enacted bans or moratoriums on shale gas development.

Matt Ryan, mayor of the city of Binghamton, took issue with the assertion that 40 towns have passed resolutions supporting drilling. Ryan, a fracking opponent whose city has banned gas drilling, said the resolutions only say that the decision is up to the DEC.

"They continue to perpetrate the myth that all these towns are for it," he said.

Cuomo has given no definite deadline for the DEC's review to be finalized. The administration has met with industry leaders and environmental groups in recent weeks to discuss issues such as monitoring health impacts.

By Wendell Roelf  9/7/2012

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa has lifted a moratorium on shale gas exploration in the Karoo region, where the extraction technique of "fracking" might help tap some of the world's biggest reserves of the energy source and deliver a big boost to the local economy.

Collins Chabane, a minister in the President's office , said the cabinet had decided to lift the moratorium, imposed in April last year, after a study eased safety concerns over the method which has been highly criticised by environmentalists.

"When (the results of the study) ... came back, they recommended that it was clearly safe for us to have that programme of exploration of shale gas," Chabane told reporters on Friday.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves pressurised water, chemicals and sand being pumped underground to release gas trapped in rock formations. Some landowners and environmentalists say the process can pollute water supplies.

However, it has been increasingly taken up in the United States, releasing huge quantities of natural gas and setting in motion an energy revolution other countries are keen to follow.

According to an initial study commissioned by the U.S. energy information administration, South Africa has 485 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas resources, most of which are located in the vast semi-arid Karoo Basin.

The reserves, which would rank as the fifth largest among 32 countries included in the study, could be a long-term solution for the energy problems of Africa's largest economy, which is under pressure to boost its supply of electricity and cut its dependence on coal, now fuelling 85 percent of its power plants.

A revocation of the moratorium could benefit Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil & Gas and Anglo American, the Eurasia political risk consultancy said this year, calling it "a game changer" for South Africa's economy.

Oil major Shell said last year it hoped to invest $200 million to explore for shale gas in the Karoo and the company welcomed the government's decision.

Developing just a 10th of South Africa's estimated resources could boost the economy by 200

Dear Friends, 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

Senator Bonacic 845 344 3311

Senator Skelos 518 455 3171
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Senator Libous 877 854 2687
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Senator Seward 607 432 5524

Senator Maziarz 716 434 0680

Senator O’Mara 607 776 3201
· 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.
11:06 PM, Sep. 5, 2012 by Steve Reilly in Pressconnects.com
While New York’s decision on hydrofracking still hangs in the balance, the Southern Tier hasn't quite dried up as a source of conventionally drilled natural gas.

Production figures for 2011, recently released by the state Department of Environmental Conservation following a half-year waiting period, show the Trenton-Black River formation is still supplying billions of cubic feet of natural gas at wells in Chemung, Chenango and other counties.

The state’s total reported gas production last year was 31.1 billion cubic feet, a 13 percent decrease from production in 2010.

While the state continues to supply natural gas, last year’s figures represent a 38.2 percent reduction from 2008, when the state produced a high of 50.3 billion cubic feet.

Despite the downturn, the Southern Tier continued to be the the most prolific producer, with previously drilled wells in the Trenton-Black River formation continuing to bring natural gas to the surface.

Of the state’s 8,304 active natural gas wells, the most productive last year was an Anschutz Production Corp. well in the Town of Horseheads that drew 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas. Including others in the towns of Big Flats and Erin, Chemung County was home to four of the state’s top 10 producing wells.

Tioga County’s only productive well, owned by Talisman Energy in the Town of Spencer, produced 150 million cubic feet of natural gas — about enough to heat 2,100 homes for a year.

In Chenango County, Norse Energy’s 40 active wells harvested 1.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas last year.

While New York continues to produce some natural gas, its production has been dwarfed by other states where energy companies are allowed to hydraulically fracture wells in shale formations, bringing large volumes of gas to the surface. In Pennsylvania, just over 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was produced in 2011.

“New York’s falling natural gas production is troublesome for the state and its economy,” said John Krohn, a spokesman for the industry-funded group Energy In Depth. “While (Gov. Andrew Cuomo) is declaring New York ‘open for business’ and Mayor Bloomberg is stating natural gas is key to improving New York City’s air quality and public health, the state is continuing to rely on natural gas imports due to declining production in the Trenton-Black River formation.”

Hydrofracking in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in New York has been put on hold for the past four years as the state Department of Environmental Conservation continues its review of the technique.
Written by Jackie Root in OPED in Stargazette.com
Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations in New York should have no effect on yogurt production. What a relief — I love Greek yogurt!

The Guest Viewpoint “Yogurt Industry, fracking don’t mix” portrayed a Pennsylvania dairy industry on the verge of ruin because of shale gas development, but it makes assumptions based on numbers that do not match the National Agricultural Statistics Service reports cited.

I live in Tioga County, Pa., where 693 Marcellus wells were drilled from 2008-11; changes in the agriculture community are very apparent and mostly positive, at least from what I see. The numbers cited by Sandra Steingraber and Michelle Bamberger caused me to seek out the same statistical reports so that my assessment would be more than just anecdotal.

My husband and I are farmers. He operated a commercial dairy from 1976 to 2009, which I joined in 1981. At present, we farm 400 acres with Hereford cattle and Morgan horses. Our decision to sell the dairy herd in 2009 was based on several factors, including dairy prices that often do not meet the cost of production; cost and availability of labor; 35 years of milking twice a day on the same set of knees; and children who are not interested in dairy farming. Now, instead of milk, we sell beef cattle and hay. We still buy feed, seed, fertilizer and machinery; in fact, farmers have a long tradition of pouring money they receive back into the local economies.

Around us other “dairy” farms have expanded for the next generation, paid off debt, established retirement accounts, purchased newer or safer equipment, updated farm buildings and farmhouses, went on vacation or took a chance on an off-farm job to only farm part-time.

Steingraber and Bamberger asserted that fracking is an obstacle to dairy farmers and has caused an 18.7 percent decline in cow numbers as well as an 18.5 percent decline in milk production per cow in the counties where 150 or more unconventional wells were hydraulically fractured in Pennsylvania. I compiled NASS data on dairy cow inventories and milk production from 2004 to 2012 for Bradford, Tioga, Susquehanna, Somerset, Lancaster, Franklin, Lebanon and Wayne counties.

The most noticeable discrepancy, from 2004 to 2011, milk production per cow actually increased in every county including those in which more than 150 wells were completed. The reports do show that dairy cow numbers have declined in those same counties but the decline has been steady since at least 2004. The facts show what every dairy producer already knows: Cow numbers are decreasing and production per cow continues to rise due to increases in efficiency.

The effects of natural gas drilling and completion will not drive farmers away; it will supplement their incomes and allow agriculture to thrive. The development is not without issues in Pennsylvania, and we are working through it. We are not a wasteland and our agriculture industry continues to produce the safest food in the world.

Root is president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners.

Dear Friends, Coalition Leaders, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,
This is an URGENT CALL TO ACTION! We need your immediate assistance. Despite all of the positive news about the potential release of the final SGEIS, we have been advised by credible sources that the Governor has been asked to delay the release of the SGEIS until after the November elections. While the final decision to delay has not yet been made, we believe it is crucial for you to call the Governor and certain key legislators advising them of the importance of approving the SGEIS immediately.
We simply cannot let the politics of the fall elections intrude on the decision-making process. Three Governors have presided over the Marcellus shale opportunity. Each election cycle newly elected legislators have asked for time to be brought up to speed on natural gas development and the SGEIS. A decision delaying the SGEIS release until after the elections will push the SGEIS release into 2013.
Governor Cuomo has said that the SGEIS would be released this summer. He told Fred Dicker “I think it’s actually better that we do it when the Legislature is not here, because I don’t want a political discussion. He continued by saying: “I want to get the conversation back to facts and logic and science and information, and reduce the temperature of the conversation, pardon the pun.”
Even CBS News recently reported that it has learned that New York is expected to roll out guidelines after Labor Day.
Governor Cuomo has shown tremendous leadership on many New York issues. We have believed that he is a leader looking for real change in New York . We fully expect him to lead New York into a new era of economic prosperity.
Governor Corbett and Governor Kasich know the benefits drilling has brought to Pennsylvania and Ohio . President Obama called natural gas “an ideal energy source” and said “. . .natural gas actually burns cleaner than some other fossil fuels, and is an ideal fuel – energy source that we can potentially use for the next 100 years.” He also said: “So I want to encourage natural gas production. The key is to make sure that we do it safely and in a way that is environmentally sound. And the fact of the matter is that there a lot of folks right now that are engaging in hydraulic fracturing who are doing it safely.” Last week Bill Richardson, former US Energy Secretary under President Bill Clinton, gave an endorsement to Governor Cuomo’s efforts stating that “Natural gas is the future.” And, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently stated that natural gas is critical to improve our air quality and public health.
Delay will make the release of the SGEIS a heated campaign issue, contrary to the Governor’s hope of avoiding continued political debate. Additionally, our members and communities are facing dire circumstances. Our farms, businesses and finances are precarious. Many individuals are holding on in expectation of being able to develop their property, but they cannot hold on much longer. Every day of delay means more will have to sell out.  Furthermore, perhaps no other region of the state has been harder hit by economic decline than our region. Responsible drilling is our best hope for resurgence.
Continued delay diminishes the economic benefits that could accrue to our state and our communities if drilling was permitted. In this regard, businesses are making investment decisions now that will mean jobs added in Pennsylvania instead of New York . We are aware of several instances recently where major support facilities linked to drilling have been constructed across the border rather than in New York . We have lost jobs and investment as a result.
Lastly, a delay will only serve to empower opponents, some of whom have now taken to civil disobedience and other disruptive acts. While everyone supports the right of people to express their views, we believe opponents are distorting the facts and trying to impose their views of what is right in our communities.
We must urge the Governor to direct the DEC to move forward as soon as possible with rules and regulations governing the process and to begin permitting. Please contact Governor Cuomo and these leaders in our Senate and urge them to approve the SGEIS immediately. A list of key talking points is attached.
Governor Cuomo 518 474 8390
Senator Bonacic 845 344 3311
Senator Skelos 518 455 3171
Senator Libous 877 854 2687
Senator Seward 607 432 5524
Senator Maziarz 716 434 0680
Senator O’Mara 607 776 3201
We have been fighting to bring opportunities to our communities for 4 years. We are closer to success than ever. I urge you to take a few minutes to make these important phone calls. Thank you.
Warm Regards,
Dan Fitzsimmons, President
Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.
Talking Points
· 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 as soon as possible with rules and regulations governing the process and to begin permitting.
· The Governor has repeatedly stated and been quoted as to the importance of making sure this decision is based on the facts. Letting delay occur into the political season jeopardizes our hard work and energizes opponents.
· Continued delay will thrust the release of the SGEIS into an even more heated political debate which is exactly 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. Our farms, businesses and finances are precarious. Many individuals are holding on in expectation of being able to develop their property, but they cannot hold on much longer. Every day of delay means more will have to sell out.
· Our region of the state has been hard hit by economic decline. Responsible drilling is our best hope for resurgence.
· Continued delay diminishes the economic benefits that could accrue to our state and our communities if drilling was permitted. Businesses are making investment decisions now that will mean jobs added in Pennsylvania instead of New York . We are aware of several instances recently where major support facilities linked to drilling have been constructed across the border rather than in New York . We have lost jobs and investment as a result.
· A delay will only serve to empower opponents, some of whom have now taken to civil disobedience and other disruptive acts. These baseless attacks could alter the landscape for support.
· We need State leadership to present a clear and consistent regulatory structure across the state. The DEC, based on the expertise of its employees and advisors, needs to release a final set of standards to ensure safe development of our natural gas resources.

This would be humourous if it was not so likely. How in the h--- anyone studies something that does not exist, based under what regulations, construction policies, geology types etc is well beyond my comprehension. Seems that a study is one more delay tactic and that we indeed have failed leadership in this not so great state. That giant sucking sound is our leadership sipping on the proceeds gained by their lack of action. Possibly it could be landowners and farmers sinking in property taxes and debt. JLCpulse

By MIREYA NAVARRO in NYTimes Blogs 8/31/2012

Late in its review process, New York state regulators are now considering an examination of the potential public health effects of hydraulic fracturing as part of its review of the controversial natural gas drilling process.

What this means to the state’s timetable for deciding on whether and how to allow fracking is unclear.

Several environmental groups met Tuesday with top officials from both the New York State Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation to discuss possible impacts like water contamination from accidental spills, air pollution from drilling operations equipment and higher numbers of accidents from increased truck traffic.

Some of those in attendance said the environmentalists  – including members of major groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Environmental Advocates of New York, Riverkeeper and Environmental Defense Fund – pressed for an independent health assessment by medical experts before regulations are finalized and any drilling is allowed to start.

But it was not clear what the agencies would ultimately do and whether adding another layer to the ongoing environmental review of fracking would further delay a decision by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to allow such drilling in the state. Mr. Cuomo has been under increasing pressure to ban fracking altogether or at least hold off on a decision until more research is done.

Critics of the state’s proposed drilling rules, including medical associations and dozens of state legislators, say that it doesn’t properly address the potential impacts to public health or the safe disposal of millions of wastewater produced by each natural gas well.

For now, the state only plans to set up a surveillance system to  monitor health impacts once fracking gets underway, according to people at the meeting who did not want to be identified because they agreed not to discuss the meeting publicly.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency drafting the fracking regulations, did not answer questions about the meeting or its implications to the timing of the governor’s decision.

“We are considering a variety of issues raised through the public comment process,” said the spokeswoman, Emily DeSantis.

Last Updated: 12:25 AM, September 4, 2012  Posted: September 04, 2012       NY Post Editorial

With Labor Day over and summer near an end, Gov. Cuomo is out of excuses: It’s time to fish or cut bait on fracking.

Cuomo’s been governor for 20 months now. Even before taking office, he signaled support for fracking, a process of extracting natural gas from underground shale.

Yet fracking — which can bring countless jobs and investment to New York — continues to be illegal in the state.

What’s the holdup?

Cuomo can no longer fairly blame his bureaucracy: It’s been 14 months since his own Department of Environmental Conservation issued a 900-page report blessing the gas-extraction technique. And that document itself had been long in the making.

“The report comes after tens of thousands of work-hours by dozens of professional experts,” Cuomo noted back then.

Albany would begin issuing permits, it was hoped, shortly thereafter.

It didn’t.

Instead, Cuomo & Co. opened the door to endless delays, deadline extensions and prolonged reviews.

Opponents — who claim, without evidence, that the practice is unsafe — pounced, stepping up their scaremongering. Resistance grew.

The anti-fracking New York Times went into overdrive. (At one point, the paper said it finally found an instance where fracking had caused damage, disproving claims that there’s never been even one such case. But the story proved flawed.)

Cuomo did admit that he’d slowed down the review — so as, he said, to cut through all the “emotion” and “fear.”

Not to worry: A decision, he promised, was just “a couple of months” off.

“The debate has been going on for years,” Cuomo noted — quite rightly. “So it’s not like a few weeks this way or the other is going to make a significant difference.”

Fair enough.

But that was last February.

Well more than “a few weeks” — or even months — have gone by.

Now it’s September — 2012. New York’s jobless rate hovers around 9 percent.

Upstate regions are desperate.

Yet fracking is still banned.

Let’s be honest: There’s little doubt the process can be done safely; even President Obama and his infamously overcautious EPA chief, Lisa Jackson, have blessed it.

Mayor Bloomberg backs it, too. Just last week, he released a study citing an urgent need for more natural gas for the city.

Recent reports suggest that a decision from Albany may be close.

But New Yorkers have heard that before.

It’s time for Cuomo to end the reviews and read the riot act to DEC technocrats, particularly Commissioner Joe Martens — making clear that he’ll abide no further delays.

A ban on fracking, or even over-regulating it — as Cuomo and DEC might do — would be a huge, tragic missed opportunity.

But either way, New York needs closure. Almost as much as it needs fracking itself.

2012 September 2
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:
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.
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

NO ONE I KNOW WOULD AGREE WITH THIS POSITION, but it is better that you are very aware and take appropriate steps to make sure his voice is silenced in November. We have more than enough restrictions holding us back, don't let these folks deny  your constitutional rights!!  Also do not forget to cancel your subscription to any Gannett publication in this area, they have no idea what is news, rest assured you will not see a pro gas endorsement on their pages. JLCpulse

Written by Dan Lamb in Press Connects

My name is Dan Lamb, and I am running for Congress at the geographic epicenter of the debate over hydraulic fracturing. Our new 22nd Congressional District stretches from the Southern Tier to Utica and includes all or part of three of the five counties in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo may permit fracking without an independent assessment of the health, environmental and economic effects.

This plan could have catastrophic consequences for the environment and well-being of upstate New York families, and that is why I have decided to take a strong stand against it moving forward. I firmly believe that the Southern Tier should not be used as the guinea pig for New York’s shale gas experiment. If shale gas extraction is not safe everywhere in New York, it is certainly not safe anywhere in New York.

My opponent, on the other hand, has invested millions with large oil and gas companies, including some of those responsible for environmental contamination in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Rep. Richard Hanna voted repeatedly to maintain subsidies for the oil and gas industry, but called investments in renewable energy “pathetic.” He has not signed on to the FRAC Act or made any effort to address the risks of hydraulic fracturing. We can’t trust him to take this issue seriously.

The choice couldn’t be clearer. This is the first race in the country about hydraulic fracturing. It is a referendum on unsafe, unstudied drilling, and it’s a race we must win. The good news is that a strong majority of residents in our part of New York agree. In a recent poll of our congressional district, 57 percent of voters took a stand against hydrofracking, even though the region has been bombarded for years by millions of dollars in industry-funded advertising.

We’ve seen the videos of families lighting their faucets on fire. We’ve read of blowouts, explosions and spills. We’ve heard of dead livestock and sick children, sullied water and noxious air. We’ve learned there are millions and millions of gallons of contaminated drilling waste with no safe place to go. But what we haven’t seen are enough leaders in government who are willing to act responsibly to protect public health and the environment before it’s too late.

For the past 15 years, I have served as a senior aide to a national environmental champion, Rep. Maurice Hinchey. He had the foresight to oppose unregulated and unstudied hydraulic fracturing in New York’s Marcellus Shale, and now that he is retiring, I am ready to stand up to Albany, Washington and the shale gas industry to protect the health and safety of New York families, but I can’t do this alone. Please visit www.danlambforcongress.com to learn what you can do to help.

Lamb is a Democrat running for Congress in New York’s new 22nd District.

By Asjylyn Loder, Bloomberg.com, August 12, 2012

On the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, about an hour upstream from New Orleans, the outline of Nucor Corp. (NUE)’s new $750 million iron-processing plant is rising between fields of sugar cane and sweet gum trees.

Surveying the facility from the road, Michael Eades, president of Ascension Economic Development Corp., says it’s part of a wave of investment lured by low natural gas prices to this stretch of Louisiana’s industrial riverfront. Companies such as Westlake Chemical Corp., Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. and Methanex Corp. (MX) have projects in the works. Ormet (ORMT) Corp. reopened an alumina refinery last year, bringing back 250 jobs.

“We’re just seeing an incredible amount of activity,” said Eades, who tallied $1.1 billion in new projects last year in Ascension Parish alone, where his private, nonprofit group promotes development. He expects twice that this year.

It’s a harbinger of a nationwide investment boom spreading from the oil fields of North Dakota and the Marcellus gas shale in Pennsylvania to power plants in California and chemical refiners in Texas. A surge in U.S. natural gas development has spurred $226 billion in spending plans on pipelines, storage, processing facilities and power plants, most slated for the next five years, according to Industrial Info Resources, a market- intelligence provider in Sugar Land, Texas.

U.S. energy supplies have been transformed in less than a decade, driven by advances in technology, and the economic implications are only beginning to be understood. U.S. natural gas production will expand to a record this year and oil output swelled in July to its highest point since 1999. Citigroup Inc. (C) estimated in a March report that a “reindustrialization” of America could add as many as 3.6 million jobs by 2020 and increase the gross domestic product by as much as 3 percent.

Narrow Gains
So far, the economic benefits have been confined to states such as Louisiana, Texas and North Dakota, while the national jobless rate has stayed above 8 percent for 42 straight months in the wake of the worst recession in seven decades.

“It is definitely a positive for the economy, but one can overstate how much of a positive,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Oil and gas production account for about 1 percent of gross domestic product, and will have a limited impact on the country’s unemployment, he said.

Even so, there are signs the economic gains have begun to expand beyond the oil and gas fields and that the promise of abundant, low-cost fuels will give a competitive edge to industries from steel, aluminum and automobiles to fertilizers and chemicals.

Jobs Debate
That would provide a boost to a U.S. manufacturing sector that has lost 5.12 million jobs since 2001 and become the focus of a national debate over how to revive factory employment. Manufacturers have added 532,000 jobs since January 2010 as the economy started to recover, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

The expansion of fossil-fuel production -- coupled with a weak economy and increased energy efficiency -- has helped the U.S. pare its crude oil imports by 17 percent since the 2005 peak, Energy Department data show. Imports in 2011 accounted for 45 percent of U.S. consumption of crude and refined products. The department predicts the share will fall to 39 percent next year, which would be the first time since 1991 that imports dropped below 40 percent of demand.

“The impact on the global petroleum market and the natural gas markets is really palpable and wildly underestimated,” said Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Citigroup Global Markets Inc. who led the team that wrote the March report. The economic activity that comes with higher energy production will boost incomes, increase consumption and create wealth, he said.

Cheaper Energy
Increased production and swelling domestic stockpiles have helped make U.S. energy cheaper than in other countries. U.S. oil futures have slid to a $20 a barrel discount to London- traded Brent, a benchmark for more than half the world’s oil. Natural gas in the U.S. fell to $1.902 per million British thermal units in April, the lowest in a decade. The fuel costs almost three times as much in the U.K. and more than five times as much in Japan.

“This is one of those rare opportunities that every country looks for and few ever get,” said Philip Verleger, a former director of the office of energy policy at the U.S. Treasury Department and founder of PKVerleger LLC, a consulting firm in Carbondale, Colorado. “This abundance of energy gives us an opportunity to rebuild our economy.”

Cycle of Growth
Verleger envisages a virtuous cycle of economic growth as producers, flush with cash from oil and gas sales, will buy more equipment and put more people to work, while low-cost energy puts cash back in consumers’ pockets, stimulating spending.

Companies plan to invest $138 billion in more than 700 natural gas storage, pipeline and processing plants in the U.S., and another $88 billion in more than 500 gas-fired power generation units, according to Joseph Govreau, vice president and editor-in-chief of Industrial Info Resources. The firm tracks projects from planning stages through construction.

The IIR estimates don’t include petrochemical and fertilizer projects, which are undergoing a revival because of the low cost of natural gas feedstock.

Cairo-based Orascom Construction Industries (OCIC) is investing $250 million restarting an ammonia and methanol plant in Beaumont, Texas. Another Orascom subsidiary may build a $1.3 billion fertilizer plant in Iowa that would create as many as 2,000 construction jobs and 165 permanent positions, according to Tina Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

‘Massive’ Investment
“The amount of petrochemical investment that the U.S. will have in the next 10 to 15 years is massive,” said Omar Darwazah, head of investor relations for Orascom. “Given the shale gas boom, gas prices in the U.S. are arguably more competitive than the Middle East, because you don’t have the political risk.”

Increased U.S. production has already wrought significant shifts across the energy industry. Plans for gas-import terminals, thought indispensable five years ago, have been shelved in favor of export facilities such as Cheniere Energy Inc. (LNG)’s $10 billion plant in Louisiana’s Sabine Pass.

Enterprise Product Partners LP and Enbridge Inc. this year reversed the Seaway pipeline that once carried oil imports from the Gulf Coast to a storage hub in Oklahoma. Now, it carries crude produced in states such as North Dakota and Colorado to refiners in Texas and Louisiana, which process and, increasingly, export it. East Coast refiners, dependent on more expensive tankers of foreign crude, are working to develop rail links and pipelines to bring oil east.

Environmental Concern
Environmentalists say cheap fossil fuels come with a high price, including air pollution that can cause respiratory difficulties, and drinking water contamination from hydrofracturing, or fracking, in which a high-pressure stream of fluid is shot underground to crack rock and release hydrocarbons. Lower gas and oil costs have also undermined investment in power sources that produce less carbon dioxide, including wind, solar and nuclear, raising concern that climate change will accelerate.

“The state is just overjoyed at all the jobs that will be coming to Louisiana without looking at the health side effects and environmental side effects,” said Darryl Malek-Wiley, a community organizer at the Sierra Club in New Orleans.

The report from Citigroup -- “North America, the New Middle East?” -- estimated that the U.S. could become the world’s largest producer of crude and natural gas liquids such as propane by 2020, overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia.

China Consumption
U.S. natural gas prices may eventually rise if planned export terminals increase demand for the fuel, putting domestic consumers in competition with foreign markets willing to pay more. China will drive global gas consumption higher by 2.7 percent a year through 2017, the International Energy Agency said in a June report. The U.S. already competes with global consumers for refined products such as gasoline and diesel.

Still, the promised bounty from lower prices can be seen along the highways and back roads of Ascension Parish, in the heart of Louisiana’s plantation country.

In November, cheap natural gas prices convinced Hannibal, Ohio-based Ormet to reopen the refinery that makes alumina, used in aluminum production. The facility was shuttered in 2006, said Chief Financial Officer James Riley.

In nearby St. James Parish, Nucor has begun construction on the plant that will process iron using natural gas. The product will supply its steel mills, said Katherine Miller, a spokeswoman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor. Five hundred people will be needed to build the plant and 150 will be employed there once completed, she said.

Doubling Workforce
Eades gestures toward construction trailers parked on the site where Vancouver-based Methanex said in July that it will reconstruct a plant moved from Chile, white, football field- sized domes that will store Nucor’s iron ore, and chutes that carry bauxite over the Mississippi River levy into Ormet’s rust- colored plant.

All this construction means new jobs. MMR Group, a Baton Rouge-based industry contractor, will double its workforce of 2,800 in the next two years, said Grady Saucier, vice president of marketing.

A five-minute drive from MMR’s offices in Ascension Parish, Associated Builders & Contractors, a trade group, can’t keep up with demand for its training program for would-be electricians, pipefitters and welders. Steven Allen graduated from the school’s pipefitting certification program this year. Now, he earns as much as $28 an hour working in petrochemical plants, up from the $9 an hour he made as a construction laborer.

Family Struggle
“Being a laborer and a helper isn’t going to cut it when you’ve got a family to support,” said Allen, 30, a father of 6- year-old twins.

Smaller businesses, including valve manufacturers, electric-motor companies and rental lots packed with heavy equipment, also feed off the boom, Eades says. One company, Rain for Rent, provides fake downpours seen on movie sets -- as well as storage tanks and water pumps to the petrochemical industry.

Closer to Interstate 10, which connects New Orleans to Baton Rouge, a TownePlace Suites by Marriott and a Holiday Inn Express have opened in the past year next to an outlet mall and a Cabela’s outfitters store, all benefiting from the influx of new workers to the region, Eades said.

“If you have gas prices in the U.S. that are substantially cheaper than Europe or Asia, it has to have a substantial impact,” said James Brick, an analyst in Houston with Wood Mackenzie, an energy and metals researcher. “The question we’re now asking is, ‘Is this the tip of the iceberg?’”

7:06 AM, Aug. 28, 2012 |  Written by  The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has released a study finding that more natural gas is critical for the city to improve air quality and public health.

Bloomberg’s announcement on Monday came on the heels of a Washington Post opinion piece in which he expressed support for expanded natural gas drilling. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to decide soon whether to allow shale gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing when the Department of Environmental Conservation completes a four-year environmental review.

Bloomberg said a study by government services contractor ICF International Inc. found the metropolitan region’s natural gas system is operating near its limits and expansion was needed to meet rising demand.

Bloomberg has directed city buildings to phase out heavy heating oil to reduce soot pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Found in EID on website

by JD Krohn

Attorney David Slottje, as any reader of this blog knows, has been traversing Upstate New York encouraging towns to enact resolutions limiting natural gas development. What began as bans turned into moratoriums, but the intent has remained the same.  That is to implement as many actions as possible in support of the Community Environmental Defense Council’s mission of protecting “land, air, water, health, and quality of life threatened by resource extraction activities… by providing free high quality legal advocacy and assistance to communities and citizen groups to help these groups in obtaining the benefit of environmental protection laws.”

In pursuit of this goal, Slottje presents himself to towns as someone of authority on issues involving natural gas regulation and limitation. He is, often, the only “expert” towns hear from before deciding whether to enact the policies he recommends.  However, a recent event in North Norwich shows Slottje’s expert advice adds up to little more than speculation on matters with which he is wholly unfamiliar.  One could argue this behavior doesn’t meet the “obligation of lawyers to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct” as outlined in the New York Bar Association’s Rules of Conduct and Code of Professional Responsibility.

During the question and answer session in North Norwich a resident asks Slottje, “If the town doesn’t do anything and fracking does come in and there is an accident…who’s liable for that.”  Slottje’s response makes it pretty clear he is biased on the matters he is attempting to address.

Slottje’s response (1:05): “Some of the people on the other side will tell you about something… called the Commerce Clause and they will tell you that therefore its OK to tear up roads.”

Slottje’s statement is completely inaccurate.  No one from “the other side” has ever suggested they have the right to tear up roads due to the Commerce Clause.  This is a falsehood made up by Slottje. In fact, natural gas operators, as Slottje mentions briefly, enter into road use agreements and bonding with towns well before their operations take place. Here’s an example of a road use agreement from Texas and here are the procedures in place in Pennsylvania.  Moreover, it’s worth noting natural gas operators have provided over $400 million in voluntary payments to make roadway improvements in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Further, according to officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), the type of negligence Slottje alleges doesn’t seem to exist. Last year Scott Christie, deputy secretary for highway administration for PennDOT stated the following to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

PennDOT requires companies to obtain permits to run heavy trucks on the weight-restricted roads. To do so, they must enter agreements to repair any damage caused by the trucks and post bond for every mile of road being used, he said. The department inspects such roads at least weekly and notifies companies when repairs are needed. In most cases, they have five days to start the work and 10 more to complete it and could have their permits revoked if they don’t comply.

‘Companies generally have been responsive,’ Mr. Christie said. ‘The simple fact is the industry is fixing the roads.’

New York State Bar Association logo

With this as background, a cursory review of the New York State’s Professional Standards for Attorneys show Slottje’s response may run afoul of the following rules:

EC 1-7: “A lawyer should avoid bias and condescension toward, and treat with dignity and respect, all parties, witnesses, lawyers, court employees, and other persons involved in the legal process.” (emphasis added, page 8)

EC 2-6 A: “…Of course, all communications by lawyers, whether subject to the special rules governing lawyer advertising or not, are governed by the general rule that lawyers may not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, nor knowingly make a material false statement of fact or law.” (emphasis added, page 17)

DR 1-102 [1200.3] 4 Misconduct: “A lawyer or law firm shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrpeprentation.” (emphasis added, page 11)

This was only the beginning. Slottje’s worst, and least professional, speculation was in full view when he spoke on lawsuits emanating from potential contamination from natural gas development activities. Slottje stated (2:46):

“the only thing worse than that kind of lawsuit…is when you own c, and A and B have fracked and all of the sudden you’ve got a problem with contamination on your property.  You want to see a lawyer’s dream. The only people who win on that are lawyers representing the insurance companies. The beauty of representing the insurance companies is you get paid regularly…the other people, so you’re going to sue this one, pretty soon you are going to run out of money by the way, I don’t care how wealthy you are.  You are going to sue this one, this one is going to sue this one, this one is going to run out of money no matter how much they made from fracking.  The only people who make out are lawyers.  Ultimately, the only lawyers who make out are the insurance company lawyers because everyone runs out of money eventually.”

This statement does more to damage Slottje’s credibility than any statement EID could ever make.  Quite simply, Slottje describes a situation that doesn’t exist.

Neighbors don’t typically sue neighbors when it comes to potential natural gas contamination suits.  Landowners, and groups of landowners, as collective agents, file suit against the natural gas companies who developed the natural gas well. Many times insurance companies aren’t even involved as the operator has direct liability. In most cases the natural gas operators attorneys interface directly with the complainants attorneys.  This much is noticeable in a cursory review of ongoing litigation in Dimock, Pennsylvania for example. This is a topic Slottje should know something about given the requirement that lawyers maintain “competency” and “through preparation” on matters in which they are involved.

Slottje’s lack of direct involvement in this type of litigation is understandable. He’s been a member of the New York Bar Association for a short time and high volume hydraulic fracturing has been on hold in New York State during that time.  That said, the competency and thorough preparation standards indicate Slottje should be knowledgeable about litigation associated with natural gas development. After all, he is presenting himself as an expert and providing legal education and advice.

Again, a review of the New York State’s Professional Standards for Attorney’s and Slottje’s statements show some wiggle room between what the standards require and Slottje’s actions. For example:

New York Professional Standards for Attorneys EC 6-2:  A lawyer is aided in attaining and maintaining competence by keeping abreast of current legal literature and developments, participating in continuing legal education programs, concentrating in particular areas of the law, and by utilizing other available means. The lawyer has the additional ethical obligation to assist in improving the legal profession, and should do so by participating in bar activities intended to advance the quality and standards of members of the profession. Of particular importance is the careful training of younger associates and the giving of sound guidance to all lawyers who consult the lawyer. In short, a lawyer should strive at all levels to aid the legal profession in advancing the highest possible standards of integrity and competence and personally to meet those standards. (emphasis added, page 54)

From the New York Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys Rule 1.1 Competence:

Maintaining Competence [6] To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. See 22 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 1500. (emphasis added, page 11)

Again Slottje’s statements, which he voluntarily provided without prompting, seem as though they may run afoul of the following sections of the New York Bar Association’s Code of Professional responsibility:

DR 1-102 [1200.3] 4 Misconduct: A lawyer or law firm shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrpeprentation (Page 11)

EC 2-6 A: “…Of course, all communications by lawyers, whether subject to the special rules governing lawyer advertising or not, are governed by the general rule that lawyers may not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, nor knowingly make a material false statement of fact or law.” (emphasis added, page 17)

EC 9-6: “Every lawyer owes a solemn duty to uphold the integrity and honor of the profession; to encourage respect for the law and for the courts and the judges thereof; to observe the Code of Professional Responsibility; to act as a member of a learned profession, one dedicated to public service; to cooperate with other lawyers in supporting the organized bar through devoting time, efforts, and financial support as the lawyer’s professional standing and ability reasonably permit; to act so as to reflect credit on the legal profession and to inspire the confidence, respect, and trust of clients and of the public; and to strive to avoid not only professional impropriety but also the appearance of impropriety.” (emphasis added, page 70 )

While this video only represents 10 minutes of one of Slottje’s presentation, it demonstrates he either lacks competency and through preparation or is willfully making false statements.  Either way, it seems these actions could run afoul of the key governing documents for attorneys in New York.

With that as background, we also examined if CEDC and Slottje’s actions in general might also run afoul of rules outlined by the New York State Bar Association.  While we will refrain from making judgement, it seems this provision is directly at odds with CEDC and Slottje’s overall campaign:

EC 2-7 C: “A lawyer who writes or speaks for the purpose of educating members of the public to recognize their legal problems should carefully refrain from giving or appearing to give a general solution applicable to all apparently similar individual problems since slight changes in fact situations may require a material variance in the applicable advice; otherwise, the public may be misled and misadvised. Talks and writings by lawyers for non-lawyers should caution them not to attempt to solve individual problems on the basis of the information contained therein.” (emphasis added, page 17)

Once the hysterical debate over hydraulic fracturing has ended the legal system in New York will continue, and for it to operate effectively, actions of officers of the court should inspire trust, faith, and confidence in the system.  These actions, whether uninformed or purposefully misleading don’t seem to support that goal. While a formal review on CEDC and Slottje hasn’t been requested, a quick glance shows there are questions worth asking.
Found on Department of Energy Website
Techlines provide updates of specific interest to the fossil fuel community. Some Techlines may be issued by the Department of Energy Office of Public Affairs as agency news announcements.

Issued on:  August 23, 2012

Favorable Supplies, Costs, Environmental Profile for Natural Gas Revealed in New Department of Energy Study

WASHINGTON, DC — The nation’s large resource base of natural gas can be used for cost-effective power generation, with environmental burdens coming primarily from fuel combustion, not resource extraction, according to a new Department of Energy (DOE) study.



The report, Role of Alternative Energy Sources: Natural Gas Power Technology Assessment, was prepared by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).  Analysts focused on seven criteria to evaluate the role of natural gas in the U.S. energy supply chain: resource base, growth, environmental profile, cost profile, barriers, implementation risks, and expert opinion from stakeholders in academia, government, and private industry. Four natural gas power technologies were evaluated: natural gas combined cycle, natural gas combined cycle with carbon capture and sequestration, gas turbine simple cycle, and the U.S. fleet baseload average.

The U.S. resource base for natural gas has exhibited recent growth that is expected to continue because of the expanded extraction potential of various shale gases. As an example, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing could allow the technical recovery of natural gas from Marcellus Shale sufficient to provide 20 years’ supply to the nation at historic demand levels. The growth in natural gas supply may be hindered by the possibility of surface water deterioration and legislative uncertainty. However, property engineered and implemented natural gas systems have favorable environmental and cost profiles in comparison to other energy sources.



The development of shale gas and other unconventional natural gas wells requires the use of technologies that could release higher levels of methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG), than do conventional well technologies. However, power plant GHG emissions far outweigh those of natural gas extraction and transport, and improvements to policy and technology could reduce these upstream burdens. The current fleet of baseload natural gas power plants running on the domestic profile of natural gas has lifecycle GHG emissions of 514 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per megawatt-hour. If switched to an unconventional mix of natural gas, the lifecycle emissions of baseload power increase to 520 kilograms of CO2 equivalent per megawatt-hour—an increase of only 1 percent. In addition to GHG emissions, the report also inventories other air emissions, water use and quality, and resource consumption.



Historically, the price of natural gas has been volatile. This price volatility is due to supply uncertainty driven by natural and economic variables. However, some utilities expect natural gas prices to stay low in the long term and have decided to invest in new natural gas power plants. At a natural gas price of $5 per million Btu , the cost of electricity delivered by a new natural gas combined cycle power plant is $53.4 per megawatt-hour. The report also includes the cost of electricity from other natural gas power systems, including simple cycle gas turbines and power plants with carbon capture, and evaluates the cost uncertainty caused by natural gas price volatility and capital cost contingencies.

— End of Techline

By Michael R. Bloomberg and George P. Mitchell, Published: AUGUST 23, 8:14 PM ET in Washington Post Opinions

In Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and even Texas, there is a fundamental debate over “fracking” — the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock that, together with horizontal drilling, unleashes abundant natural gas. Mostly, it’s the loud voices at the extremes who are dominating the debate: those who want either no fracking or no additional regulation of it. As usual, the voices in the sensible center are getting drowned out — with serious repercussions for our country’s future.

The production of shale gas through fracking is the most significant development in the U.S. energy sector in generations, and it affords four major benefits that people on both sides of the debate should welcome.

First, it’s good for consumers’ pocketbooks by helping to reduce energy costs. In the Northeast alone, fracking has helped stimulate major infrastructure investments that will soon bring the first new interstate natural-gas pipeline to New York City in decades.

Second, fracking spurs economic growth by bringing industrial jobs back to the United States — jobs that left several years ago when domestic natural-gas supplies were considered scarce and expensive.

Third, fracking reduces U.S. dependence on coal, which is one of the best things we can do to improve air quality and fight climate change. Modern gas-fired power plants produce effectively no sulfur dioxide or fine particulates and no mercury or toxic ash pollution. They use less water and generate about half the carbon dioxide pollution of coal. The more natural gas we produce, the more quickly we will be able to close dirty-burning coal plants.

Finally, done right, today’s more nimble natural gas plants even allow more renewable power to be integrated into the electricity grid than coal does.

Thanks to fracking, our national production of natural gas is up 25 percent from 2004-06 levels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s a major reason domestic energy prices have stabilized — and why the United States’ annual carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest level in two decades.

Fracking for natural gas can be as good for our environment as it is for our economy and our wallets, but only if done responsibly. 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.

With so much at stake for the environment, jobs and energy security, it is critical that we make reasoned decisions about how to manage the use of hydraulic fracturing technology.

Several states, including Colorado, New York and Ohio, are taking the lead in this regard, recognizing the need to establish an appropriate framework for regulatory safeguards. It appears that Texas, as the pioneer of hydraulic fracturing in shale formations, is poised to step forward in developing promising state guidelines as well. More such leadership is needed.

To jump-start this effort, each of our foundations will support organizations that seek to work with states and industries to develop common-sense regulations that will protect the environment — and ensure that the industry can thrive.

We will encourage better state regulation of fracking around five key principles:

l Disclosing all chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process;

l Optimizing rules for well construction and operation;

l Minimizing water consumption, protecting groundwater and ensuring proper disposal of wastewater;

l Improving air pollution controls, including capturing leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas; and

l Reducing the impact on roads, ecosystems and communities.

The latest research, including peer-reviewed studies out of Carnegie Mellon University and Argonne National Laboratory, suggests that if properly extracted and distributed, the impact of natural gas on the climate is significantly less than that of coal. Safely fracking natural gas can mean healthier communities, a cleaner environment and a reliable domestic energy supply right now.

Some in the industry accept additional safeguards to promote confidence that shale gas development can proceed in a manner that protects natural resources and powers our future. These early leaders should partner with government officials and environmental organizations to ensure that strong and reasonable state regulations are adopted.

We can frack safely if we frack sensibly. That may not make for a great bumper sticker. It does make for good environmental and economic policy.

Bill’s Energy czar backs gov’s path

By CARL CAMPANILE in NY Post   Last Updated: 3:31 AM, August 23, 2012    Posted: 2:05 AM, August 23, 2012

Former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson gave a qualified endorsement yesterday to Gov. Cuomo’s effort to pursue fracking.

“Natural gas is the future. It is here,” said Richardson, who headed the Energy Department under former President Bill Clinton.

Richardson’s expression of support for the exploration of shale drilling for natural gas came during a panel discussion on renewable energy sponsored by Cuomo and the state Democratic Party at the Sheraton New York.

But he stressed the evidence must show that fracking can be done in an environmentally safe manner.

“If there is going to be fracking, it’s got to be done right,” he said.

Minutes after Richardson’s comments, two anti-frackers who slipped into the conference staged a demonstration, claiming that deep drilling would poison the water supply. One protester sipped from a glass and fell down after pretending to faint.

The policymakers in attendance cheered when a state trooper escorted her out of the room.

During an interview afterward, Richardson praised Cuomo’s methodical review of the fracking issue.

“The governor is approaching this right, doing it with a lot of data,” he said.

“Fracking is doable if there’s full disclosure of all chemicals used. Secondly, science dictates the policy rather than politics. Third, there’s collaboration between environmental groups and the natural gas industry.”

Richardson stressed there must be strong regulation and said if there’s any doubt, he’d “err on the side of protecting” groundwater.

After the panel discussion, Cuomo said, “We will make the [fracking] decision based on the facts.”

He said currently there is a “lot of emotion” and “very little information” about the real benefits and concerns about fracking in upstate’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale region that borders Pennsylvania.

Folks, this is not going to happen without some effort on our part. The antis are bombarding Albany, and perhaps with some effect. When was the last time you communicated your position to the DEC and governor? JLCpulse


By ERIK KRISS Bureau Chief   NY Post   Last Updated: 2:13 AM, August 22, 2012  Posted: 12:18 AM, August 22, 2012

ALBANY — New Yorkers are fractured down the middle when it comes to fracking, a new poll has found.

A Siena College survey released yesterday found that 39 percent of voters support allowing hydro-fracking to move forward in the state, and 38 percent oppose it.

But while New Yorkers are split on the controversial method for extracting natural gas, a growing number of town and village officials are urging the state to say, “Frack yeah!”

More than 40 municipalities — most of them in the gas-rich parts of upstate’s Marcellus Shale, where drilling is most likely to occur — have passed local resolutions supporting a statewide natural-gas development plan.

Gov. Cuomo
Gov. Cuomo

And backers contend many of the municipalities that have voted to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing, such as Albany, are nowhere near the gas — and as urban and populated suburban areas, would never see drilling anyway.

Meanwhile, insiders said yesterday they’ve heard that the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which has been expected to decide on fracking around the end of summer, may put off the decision as anti-frackers plan to pressure Gov. Cuomo with a rally planned outside his clean-energy policy summit at Manhattan’s Sheraton Hotel today.

“I do sense the administration is getting pounded on the issue and they’re making sure the DEC is getting all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, and that may take a little longer than expected,” said one source close to the issue — who added that a delay wouldn’t necessarily be counterproductive.

“We don’t need loose ends. We need this to be permitted and everything to be tight.”

Cuomo administration officials said no decisions have been made on the practice of fracturing shale with a high-pressure mix of sand, water and chemicals to capture trapped gas.

But Cuomo is widely expected to approve a plan to allow limited drilling in the Southern Tier — five counties bordering the northern edge of shale-rich Pennsylvania — with industry insiders expecting the green light for 50 to 100 wells in the first year.

The Siena poll of 671 likely voters found fracking opposition from Democrats, women, liberals, union members, young voters and upstaters.

But the powerful GOP state senator who represents the heart of the Southern Tier insists there’s strong support in his district.

“I know for a fact that the five-county region here in the Southern Tier is very strongly in favor of moving forward with environmentally safe drilling,” said Thomas Libous of Binghamton.

Robert Lenzner, Forbes Staff in Forbes  8/21/2012

Here is the most promising development in the American economy. Period! The discovery of oceans of natural gas in North America means a vastly cheaper source of energy, the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, a meaningful reduction in global warming, a much diminished balance of payments deficit, a far stronger dollar, a jump in the profits of the electric utilities, who will then raise their cash dividend payouts, which will benefit widows and orphans as well as giant pension funds, and cause the gold bugs lasting anguish.

One. The exploration and production of record amounts of natural gas will reduce the costs of running the nation’s transportation fleet as automobiles, buses and trucks go partly or wholly electric.

Two. The need to build pipelines from gas fields to utilities and the requirement to build networks of charging stations on highways and in major cities will require a whole new massive infrastructure effort, which in turn will need the services of construction workers, engineers and other assorted building folk. The nation’s GDP will surely benefit. It is precisely the stimulus we need now.

Three. The cheaper cost of electricity will reduce the demand for crude oil, which will reduce our imports from the foreign oil producers, which will reduce our balance of payments deficits– and in turn our budget deficit.

Four. Reducing our balance of payments deficit will strengthen the dollar, which will make the cost of importing other raw materials cheaper– while hurting to some extent our exports.

Five. Using natural gas to create electricity will reduce our need for coal and will drastically reduce emissions of carbons that are contributing to global warming. In other words, there should be a net benefit to the global environment and slow the course of global warming. I am informed by the US Department of Energy that carbon emissions have been already reduced back to the level that existed in 1990– which is a most positive development.

Six. This reduction of omissions places the U.S. far ahead of economic rival China, which was responsible for 29% of all carbon emissions in the world last year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Seven. The incremental demand for electricity should increase the profits of the electric utility industry– and thus enable these same utilities to increase the payout of cash dividends– which will benefit widows and orphans as well as pension funds that require a steady increasing flow of cash to service retirement benefits.

Eight. The natural gas revolution should trigger a burst of entrepreneurial spirit across the nation as the incremental changes to our civilization should lead to a business revival and the dreams of new fortunes.

Nine. Which ever Presidential candidate can communicate this hopeful drama should be able to capture the imagination and positive hopes of the nation at a time when the economic news seems so gloomy.

Ten. The boom in natural gas development should also stimulate the local economies and employment incomes of counties and states where drilling, exploration and transportation are centered. Go North Dakota.

By Laura Legere (Staff Writer)  Scranton Times Tribune. Published: August 22, 2012

The state Department of Environmental Protection has granted Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. permission to resume hydraulic fracturing in an area of Dimock Twp. nearly 2½ years after methane contamination prompted regulators to shut down the natural gas driller's operations there.

Cabot's drilling remains on hold in the 9-square-mile area, but the state on Tuesday permitted the company to hydraulically fracture - or frack - seven wells that were drilled at the time of an April 2010 enforcement order that halted the work.

Hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting chemically treated water and sand underground at high pressure to release gas trapped in rocks, is necessary for Marcellus Shale wells to produce marketable quantities of gas.

DEP curbed Cabot's operations in the Susquehanna County township after it found that faulty Cabot wells allowed methane to seep into 18 Dimock drinking water wells.

Cabot denies that it caused the contamination but it agreed to a $4.6 million settlement with the state in December 2010 that required the driller to fix leaking or overpressured wells and stop the gas from tainting aquifers.

Cabot tested or patched dozens of Dimock wells, but DEP told the company in May 2011 that flaws appeared to persist in 22 of 43 of the company's gas wells, including two wells that were never fracked, the Ely 1H and Kelly 1H, that needed additional tests to prove they were structurally sound.

Three more tests on the wells have since shown that any gas between the cemented strings of steel casing is now below pressure limits set by state regulations and is not escaping from the wellbore, Scott Perry, DEP's deputy secretary for oil and gas management, wrote to Cabot on Tuesday.

The company must perform and report pressure tests on both wells within 60 days of fracking them, Mr. Perry wrote.

The state's action on Tuesday lifts the second of three limits put on Cabot's operations until it fulfills the settlement terms.

In October, the department allowed Cabot to stop delivering fresh water to affected residents because the company had offered the families twice the assessed value of their properties and methane removal systems for their homes - obligations that were outlined in the agreement.

A last hurdle remains. Cabot will not be allowed to resume drilling until regular water sampling proves that the source of the methane has been eliminated or that the gas in the aquifer has returned to background levels.

A Cabot spokesman said on Tuesday that the company worked cooperatively with the state to reach this point and is "pleased with the DEP's decision," which he said "confirms that these wells are in compliance with all applicable environmental laws."

Jim Grimsley, a Dimock resident and Cabot leaseholder who has property in a gas production unit tied to the Kelly 1H well, said the move is a step forward after a contentious period that he said left landowners feeling punished and unfairly gave his town a bad name.

"I will be glad to see that over with," he said. "I would like to be able to say to people, yes, I live in Dimock. It's a great place."

The action was no consolation for residents who say they are still dealing with harm from Cabot's operations.

Scott Ely, whose house is near the Ely 1H well, is continuing with a lawsuit against Cabot alleging damage to his family's health and property. Several of his neighbors have signed settlement agreements in the suit.

"My methane level hasn't changed," he said, adding that the pH of his water keeps rising and is now "close to Drano."

He is concerned that the same well-construction flaws that first caused the methane migration might exist in the wells that were never fracked.

"Are we going to see more problems? Are we going to see higher methane readings?" he asked. "We're just going to hope and pray that everything works out OK."

Credit: The Wall Street Journal | wsj.com 17 August 2012 ~~ found in National Wind Watch

President Obama traveled to Iowa Tuesday and touted wind energy subsidies as the path to economic recovery. Then he attacked Mitt Romney as a tool of the oil and gas industry. “So my attitude is let’s stop giving taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that don’t need them, and let’s invest in clean energy that will put people back to work right here in Iowa,” he said. “That’s a choice in this election.”

There certainly is a subsidy choice in the election, but the facts are a lot different than Mr. Obama portrays them. What he isn’t telling voters is how many tax dollars his Administration has already steered to wind and solar power, and how much more subsidized they are than other forms of electricity generation.

The facts come in a 2011 report from Mr. Obama’s own Department of Energy. The report—“Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010”—identifies $37.16 billion in federal subsidies. These include special tax breaks, loans and loan guarantees, research and development, home heating assistance, conservation programs, and so on.

The nearby chart shows the assistance that each form of energy for electricity production received in 2010. The natural gas and oil industry received $2.8 billion in total subsidies, not the $4 billion Mr. Obama claims on the campaign trail, and $654 million for electric power. The biggest winner was wind, with $5 billion. Between 2007 and 2010, total energy subsidies rose 108%, but solar’s subsidies increased six-fold and wind’s were up 10-fold.

The best way to compare subsidy levels is by the amount of energy produced. But the Energy report conspicuously left out this analysis, though Congress specifically requested it.

Energy said that “caution” should be used in calculating the taxpayer handouts “relative to their share of total electricity generation,” because many wind and solar subsidies are for “facilities that are still under construction.” It also warned that “Focusing on a single year’s data does not capture the imbedded effects of subsidies that may have occurred over many years” for other energy sources.

This sounds suspiciously like a political dodge, because subsidies for renewable energy date to at least the 1970s. The problem is that wind and solar still can’t make a go of it without subsidies. Solyndra is merely the most famous of the solar-power failures. Earlier this month United Technologies sold its more than $300 million investment in wind power, with CFO Greg Hayes telling investors, according to press reports that: “We all make mistakes.” He added that the market for renewables like wind “as everyone knows, is stagnating.” Someone alert the White House.

The folks at the Institute for Energy Research used the Energy Department data to calculate a subsidy per unit of electricity produced. Per megawatt hour, natural gas, oil and coal received 64 cents, hydropower 82 cents, nuclear $3.14, wind $56.29 and solar a whopping $775.64.

So for every tax dollar that goes to coal, oil and natural gas, wind gets $88 and solar $1,212. After all the hype and dollars, in 2010 wind and solar combined for 2.3% of electric generation—2.3% for wind and 0% and a rounding error for solar. Renewables contributed 10.3% overall, though 6.2% is hydro. Some “investment.”

Zooming out for all energy, the Congressional Research Service did its own analysis of tax incentives last year. It found that in 2009 fossil fuels accounted for 78% of U.S. energy production but received only 12.6% of tax incentives. Renewables accounted for 11% of energy production but received 77% of the tax subsidies—and that understates the figure because it leaves out direct spending.

By the way, these subsidy comparisons don’t consider that the coal, oil, and natural gas industries paid more than $10 billion of taxes in 2009. Wind and solar are net drains on the Treasury.

All of this suggests a radical idea. Why not eliminate all federal energy subsidies? This would get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers—mostly losers.

Mr. Obama’s plan to eliminate oil and gas subsidies would lower the budget deficit by less than $3 billion a year, but creating a true level playing field in energy, and allowing markets to determine which energy sources are used, would save $37 billion. That’s an energy plan that makes sense.

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Louisville, Ky.   Aug 16, 2012 By Lindsay Morris in Power Engineering

As the power industry faces record low natural gas prices and a number of federal regulations aimed at cleaning up coal power, the battle between natural gas and coal is raging full-force. During a session at the COAL-GEN Conference and Exhibition in Louisville, Ky. on Aug. 16, speakers focused on answering the question, “Natural Gas: Is the Threat to Coal Sustainable?”

Dave Hughes, president of Global Sustainability Research, said gas production in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the last two decades. In fact, the number of gas wells has tripled since the 1990s, and gas will continue this upward movement, he said. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas is expected to grow by 16 percent of the power generation mix by 2035. Natural gas will largely fill the void that will remain after the EIA-projected 49 GW of coal is retired over the same time period, Hughes said.

The main draw to natural gas is the low price. At sub- $3 per mmBtu natural gas prices, the levelized cost of coal is three times higher, said Dr. Joseph Smith, president, Systems Analyses and Solutions.

Shale gas represents a growing percentage of the gas mix, Hughes said. The EIA estimates that shale gas will comprise 49 percent of the gas supply by 2035. However, Hughes said power generators should be aware that potential EPA regulations could be enforced on methane emissions from shale gas. “The methane in shale gas could be more harmful to the environment than greenhouse gases in coal,” he said.

Power generators should also be mindful that gas power – not just coal – emits greenhouse gas, said Grant Grothen, principal, Burns & McDonnell. Greenhouse gases could soon by limited through the EPA’s New Source Performance Standard (NSPS). The proposed rule would require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per MWh, meets that standard; coal plants, however, emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per MWh.

However, some natural gas combined-cycle units may not be able to meet the proposed NSPS.

For example, Louisville Gas & Electric is currently planning a natural gas combined-cycle plant that would not be able to operate without carbon capture and storage technology under the proposed standard. John Voyles Jr., vice president of transmission and generation for LG&E, who spoke during the COAL-GEN keynote session, said that on the surface, the new 640 MW plant could operate on less than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per MWh.

“Unfortunately, when you apply production standards to start-ups and shut downs at the plant, we will not be able to comply,” Voyles said.

Another potential challenge for natural gas plants is infrastructure, Grothen said. By default, pipelines are fully subscribed when constructed, he said, but an electric utility might be able to buy space from third parties. However, even if a utility manage to secure adequate space on a pipeline, in cold conditions, when natural gas is in high demand, a typical pipeline offers “little or no room for additional resources.”

Too much dependence on natural gas could threaten more than just coal generation, Smith said. Cheap natural gas is reducing research and development efforts for alternative energy, he said, particularly bioenergy projects.

“Overemphasis on natural gas is a threat to energy stability,” Smith said. “A major shift to natural gas-fired power generation will reduce U.S. energy security as the country becomes too dependent on gas and there are sudden shifts in gas prices.”

EVIN BEGOS in Associated Press
Published: 8/16/2012

FILE - in this June 25, 2012 file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa. In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal. Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) - In a surprising turnaround, the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere in the U.S. has fallen dramatically to its lowest level in 20 years, and government officials say the biggest reason is that cheap and plentiful natural gas has led many power plant operators to switch from dirtier-burning coal.

Many of the world's leading climate scientists didn't see the drop coming, in large part because it happened as a result of market forces rather than direct government action against carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, said the shift away from coal is reason for "cautious optimism" about potential ways to deal with climate change. He said it demonstrates that "ultimately people follow their wallets" on global warming.

"There's a very clear lesson here. What it shows is that if you make a cleaner energy source cheaper, you will displace dirtier sources," said Roger Pielke Jr., a climate expert at the University of Colorado.

In a little-noticed technical report, the U.S. Energy Information Agency, a part of the Energy Department, said this month that energy related U.S. CO2 emissions for the first four months of this year fell to about 1992 levels. Energy emissions make up about 98 percent of the total. The Associated Press contacted environmental experts, scientists and utility companies and learned that virtually everyone believes the shift could have major long-term implications for U.S. energy policy.

While conservation efforts, the lagging economy and greater use of renewable energy are factors in the CO2 decline, the drop-off is due mainly to low-priced natural gas, the agency said.

A frenzy of shale gas drilling in the Northeast's Marcellus Shale and in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana has caused the wholesale price of natural gas to plummet from $7 or $8 per unit to about $3 over the past four years, making it cheaper to burn than coal for a given amount of energy produced. As a result, utilities are relying more than ever on gas-fired generating plants.

Both government and industry experts said the biggest surprise is how quickly the electric industry turned away from coal. In 2005, coal was used to produce about half of all the electricity generated in the U.S. The Energy Information Agency said that fell to 34 percent in March, the lowest level since it began keeping records nearly 40 years ago.

The question is whether the shift is just one bright spot in a big, gloomy picture, or a potentially larger trend.

Coal and energy use are still growing rapidly in other countries, particularly China, and CO2 levels globally are rising, not falling. Moreover, changes in the marketplace - a boom in the economy, a fall in coal prices, a rise in natural gas - could stall or even reverse the shift. For example, U.S. emissions fell in 2008 and 2009, then rose in 2010 before falling again last year.

Also, while natural gas burns cleaner than coal, it still emits some CO2. And drilling has its own environmental consequences, which are not yet fully understood.

"Natural gas is not a long-term solution to the CO2 problem," Pielke warned.

The International Energy Agency said the U.S. has cut carbon dioxide emissions more than any other country over the last six years. Total U.S. carbon emissions from energy consumption peaked at about 6 billion metric tons in 2007. Projections for this year are around 5.2 billion, and the 1990 figure was about 5 billion.

China's emissions were estimated to be about 9 billion tons in 2011, accounting for about 29 percent of the global total. The U.S. accounted for approximately 16 percent.

Mann called it "ironic" that the shift from coal to gas has helped bring the U.S. closer to meeting some of the greenhouse gas targets in the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming, which the United States never ratified. On the other hand, leaks of methane from natural gas wells could be pushing the U.S. over the Kyoto target for that gas.

Even with such questions, public health experts welcome the shift, since it is reducing air pollution.

"The trend is good. We like it. We are pleased that we're shifting away from one of the dirtiest sources to one that's much cleaner," said Janice Nolen, an American Lung Association spokeswoman. "It's been a real surprise to see this kind of shift. We certainly didn't predict it."

Power plants that burn coal produce more than 90 times as much sulfur dioxide, five times as much nitrogen oxide and twice as much carbon dioxide as those that run on natural gas, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Sulfur dioxide causes acid rain and nitrogen oxides lead to smog.

Bentek, an energy consulting firm in Colorado, said that sulfur dioxide emissions at larger power plants in 28 Eastern, Midwestern and Southern states fell 34 percent during the past two years, and nitrous oxide fell 16 percent. Natural gas has helped the power industry meet federal air pollution standards earlier than anticipated, Bentek said.

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency issued its first rules to limit CO2 emissions from power plants, but the standards don't take effect until 2014 and 2015. Experts had predicted that the rules might reduce emissions over the long term, but they didn't expect so many utilities to shift to gas so early. And they think price was the reason.

"A lot of our units are running much more gas than they ever have in the past," said Melissa McHenry, a spokeswoman for Ohio-based American Electric Power Co. "It really is a reflection of what's happened with shale gas."

"In the near term, all that you're going to build is a natural gas plant," she said. Still, she warned: "Natural gas has been very volatile historically. Whether shale gas has really changed that - the jury is still out. I don't think we know yet."

Jason Hayes, a spokesman for the American Coal Council, based in Washington, predicted cheap gas won't last.

"Coal is going to be here for a long time. Our export markets are growing. Demand is going up around the world. Even if we decide not to use it, everybody else wants it," he said. Hayes also said the industry expects new coal-fired power plants will be built as pollution-control technology advances: "The industry will meet the challenge" of the EPA regulations.

The boom in gas production has come about largely because of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Large volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals, are injected to break shale rock apart and free the gas.

Environmentalists say that the fluids can pollute underground drinking water supplies and that methane leaks from drilling cause serious air pollution and also contribute to global warming. The industry and many government officials say the practice is safe when done properly. But there have been cases in which faulty wells did pollute water, and there is little reliable data about the scale of methane leakage.

"The Sierra Club has serious doubts about the net benefits of natural gas," said Deborah Nardone, director of the group's Beyond Natural Gas campaign.

"Without sufficient oversight and protections, we have no way of knowing how much dangerous pollution is being released into Americans' air and water by the gas industry. For those reason, our ultimate goal is to replace coal with clean energy and energy efficiency and as little natural gas as possible."

Wind supplied less than 3 percent of the nation's electricity in 2011 according to EIA data, and solar power was far less. Estimates for this year suggest that coal will account for about 37 percent of the nation's electricity, natural gas 30 percent, and nuclear about 19 percent.

Some worry that cheap gas could hurt renewable energy efforts.

"Installation of new renewable energy facilities has now all but dried up, unable to compete on a grid now flooded with a low-cost, high-energy fuel," two experts from Colorado's Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute said in an essay posted this week on Environment360, a Yale University website.

How much further the shift from coal to natural gas can go is unclear. Bentek says that power companies plan to retire 175 coal-fired plants over the next five years. That could bring coal's CO2 emissions down to 1980 levels. However, the EIA predicts prices of natural gas will start to rise a bit next year, and then more about eight years from now.

Despite unanswered questions about the environmental effects of drilling, the gas boom "is actually one of a number of reasons for cautious optimism," Mann said. "There's a lot of doom and gloom out there. It is important to point out that there is still time" to address global warning.


Associated Press writers Seth Borenstein in Washington and Jonathan Fahey in New York contributed to this story.



U.S. Energy Information Agency: http://bit.ly/MRLOFR

Examiner Editorial in   The Washington Examiner August 13, 2012 | 8:00 pm

When President Obama's regulatory apparatus takes the side of environmentalists against the workers and consumers who must bear the consequences of his decisions, his green enforcers are usually the U.S. Department of the Interior or the Environmental Protection Agency. In the rare instance, as with the Keystone Pipeline, it is the State Department that delivers the crippling blow. But where these agencies have failed to inflict sufficient damage on one of America's fastest-growing industries, the Department of Transportation has stepped forward, cudgel in hand.

Since Obama's inauguration in January 2009, overall employment in the U.S. has declined. In domestic oil and gas extraction, however, it has grown by 19 percent. With just under 200,000 employees, it is not one of America's largest industries, but it has helped take the edge off the lack of employment opportunities available in the Obama recovery. Thousands of jobs in other industries have sprung up in the oases that oil and gas have created, bringing rural ghost towns back to life. The reason is hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" technology, which has made vast amounts of natural gas profitably accessible, even at today's low natural gas prices.

Environmentalists are determined to put a stop to this carbon profiteering. The EPA is still conducting studies that environmentalists hope will someday justify draconian regulations on fracking. Enter Obama's Transportation Department. By suddenly reinterpreting a 50-year-old rule that limits truck drivers to 11 hours on the work site at a stretch, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has delivered an unexpected victory for environmental activists.

Truckers on drilling sites spend hours each day waiting around until one rig or another needs water or sand. This is why, ever since the 11-hour trucking safety rule was adopted in 1962, truckers who haul water and sand to drilling sites have been exempted. There is no issue of road fatigue, the focus of the 11-hour rule. The Transportation Department's reinterpretation eliminates this exemption, disproportionately affecting sites where fracking is employed. Voila - environmental regulation without the hassles of justifying it scientifically, as would be required for an EPA action.

"This is clearly an indication that somewhere up in the top echelons of this administration, there is a constant battle -- a war going on -- to try to artificially level the playing field between the oil and gas industry and the renewable [energy] industry," Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., told The Washington Examiner.

Whatever Obama's reasons, this crackdown on natural gas is irreconcilable with his praise for the industry's success. In this year's State of the Union address, Obama spoke of gas in a fashion that presaged his more recent "you didn't build that" campaign-trail argument in favor of higher taxes and bigger government. "[I]t was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock," he said.

Obama's claim is untrue - the federal government spent little to research fracking and stopped altogether in 1992 - but leave that aside. Even as Obama hails the natural gas boom as a vindication of his philosophy, his administration is crippling it with a sudden backdoor rule change. It says a lot about how this president has subordinated the creation of good-paying, long-lasting jobs to the whims of environmentalist bundlers and donors in New York and Hollywood.

By Mark Perry updated August 12, 2012

A well written and insightful piece of prose, written for an Ohio Newspaper, that is well worth the time to read.
Newsflash-- New York State is NOT the center of the universe. The gas and oil we use must come from somewhere and as New Yorkers we pay a big price for our limited political insights, socially and economically. Our state would be far better off if we harvested the gas under our feet and took advantage of the reduced costs we would experience, together with dramatically increased tax revenues, that could benefit all of us.JLCpulse
Written by  Mike Jacoby in Zanesville Times Recorder  OpEd. 8/12/2012

If you have read a newspaper just once in the past nine months, you probably are aware of some pretty dramatic developments in the American energy market. Sadly, too often, I think the coverage misses the underlying significance of the economic and geopolitical shifts occurring in front of our eyes.

A relatively new technology, horizontal drilling, has been combined with an old technology, hydraulic fracturing, to unlock natural gas and oil from dense shale formations more than a mile below the ground, all across the country. As a result, we are enjoying the lowest natural gas prices in a decade and predictions of a bountiful supply and low prices far into the future.

Perhaps the biggest natural gas reserves are to our east in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and far eastern Ohio. The Utica Shale, which lies below roughly the eastern third of Ohio, holds great promise because of its mix of natural gas, natural gas liquids and petroleum found in the formation. These resources have the potential to greatly assist the region and the country.

The economic benefits are far-reaching. Billions of dollars already have been paid to Ohio landowners for mineral leases by natural gas and oil exploration and production companies. Ohio manufacturers are hiring workers to supply pipe, compressors, tanks, and trucks for the industry. Muskingum County's own Producers Service Corporation is building a new fleet of trucks. Eastern Ohio, including Muskingum County, is benefiting from the location of service companies that support the exploration and production companies. Local large manufacturing companies such as AK Steel are benefiting from a large supply of affordable natural gas to produce steel at competitive prices.

Dresden Energy, owned by AEP subsidiary Appalachian Power, opened a more than $300-million natural-gas-fired power plant south of Dresden earlier this year. Utilities are building new natural-gas-fired plants to maintain reliable power service as aging coal-fired plants are going off-line because of a combination of environmental regulations and prohibitive capital costs to upgrade the plants. As the electric bill impact of these retirements starts to show up, the low price of clean-burning natural gas now and in the foreseeable future helps offset that impact and eases the pain for Ohio and the country.

Aside from economics, I think we all need to be reminded of our stake in having a supply of these fuel sources close to home. The majority of people reading this column probably rely on natural gas to heat and, with growing frequency, power their homes and businesses. Again for most people, gasoline (refined from oil) fuels our vehicles. We should not disengage our comfort and convenience from the true costs of these resources.

The supply chain for these fuels historically ties us to global conflicts in places I dare say we would care very little about otherwise. For decades, American servicemen and servicewomen have died, and trillions of U.S. dollars have been spent on the other side of the world because American national security was irrevocably tied to our energy dependence.

Domestic natural gas and oil from shale is shifting the balance of power, as measured by energy supply. Shale gas is the major contributor to the U.S. becoming the largest producer of natural gas -- so large that we are shifting to exporter rather than importer status. The challenge for oil is greater, but the Bakken Shale already has made North Dakota the second biggest oil-producing state. As reported in the Wall Street Journal: the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that by 2020, half of the crude oil we consume could be produced domestically, and 82 percent will come from this hemisphere. The oil cartel OPEC has predicted by 2035 its member countries might not export any oil to the U.S.

The onslaught of stories about the pros and cons of shale drilling will continue. I encourage people to seek facts and context. We all have a stake in the outcome. I think responsibly regulated natural gas and oil production from shale has the ability to be an even greater job creator for Ohio and a significant contribution to America's goal of energy independence. We need more of both.

Mike Jacoby is the executive director of the Zanesville Muskingum County Port Authority.

By Chrystia Freeland in  Reuters 8/9/2012

NEW YORK Aug 9 (Reuters) - Forget America's fiscal cliff, Europe's currency troubles or the emerging-markets slowdown. The most important story in the global economy today may well be some good news that isn't yet making as many headlines - the coming surge in oil production around the world.

Until very recently, our collective assumption was that oil was running out. That was partly a matter of what seemed like geological common sense. It took millions of years for the earth to crush plankton into fossil fuels; it is logical to think that it would take millions of years to create more. The rise of the emerging markets, with their energy-hungry billions, was a further reason it seemed obvious we would have less oil and gas in 2020 than we do today.

Obvious - but wrong. Thanks in part to technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking, we are entering a new age of abundant oil. As the energy expert Leonardo Maugeri contends in a recent report published by the Belfer Center at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, "contrary to what most people believe, oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level that it might outpace consumption."

Maugeri, a research fellow at the Belfer Center and a former oil industry executive, bases that assertion on a field-by-field analysis of most of the major oil exploration and development projects in the world. He concludes that "by 2020, the world's oil production capacity could be more than 110 million barrels per day, an increase of almost 20 percent." Four countries will lead the coming oil boom: Iraq, the United States, Canada and Brazil.

Much of the "new" oil is coming onstream thanks to a technology revolution that has put hard-to-extract deposits within reach: Canada's oil sands, the United States' shale oil, Brazil's presalt oil.

"The extraction technologies are not new," Maugeri explains in the report, "but the combination of technologies used to exploit shale and tight oils has evolved. The technology can also be used to reopen and recover more oil from conventional, established oilfields."

Maugeri thinks the tipping point will be 2015. Until then, the oil market will be "highly volatile" and "prone to extreme movements in opposite directions." But after 2015, Maugeri predicts a "glut of oil," which could lead to a fall - or even a "collapse" - in prices.

At a time when the global meme is of America's inevitable economic decline, the surge in oil supply capacity is an important contrarian indicator. Maugeri calculates that the United States "could conceivably produce up to 65 percent of its oil consumption needs domestically." That national energy boom is already providing a powerful economic stimulus in some parts of the country - just look at North Dakota. Crucially, at a time when one of the biggest social and political problems in the United States is the disappearance of well-paid blue-collar work, particularly for men, oil patch jobs fill that void.

What Maugeri dubs the next oil revolution also has tremendous geopolitical implications. One way to understand the battlegrounds of our young century is through the pipelines that flow beneath them. The coming surge in oil production, particularly from North America, will transform that geopolitical equation.

Equally significant is the impact of oil on the most important human problem of our times: protecting the environment. The sources of oil that will fuel the coming boom are harder to reach than the supplies of the 20th century, and the technologies required to extract them are more invasive. That will be one fault line in what is sure to be the escalating battle between environmentalists and the oil industry.

The implications for the climate change debate are even more fraught. Until now, the arithmetic of oil supply and the agenda of environmentalists conveniently dovetailed. Since we were running out of oil anyway, environmentally motivated efforts to limit fossil fuel consumption and increase our use of renewable energy boasted the additional virtue of being inevitable. In an age of abundant oil, those economically utilitarian arguments lose their power.

For environmentalists, and for the liberal political parties with which they are usually aligned, that poses a serious challenge. The temptation will be to oppose new oil production projects indiscriminately. That instinct could be politically dangerous. Political progress in combating climate change has been slow, but the battle for hearts and minds, especially of the younger generation, is being won. That political capital can be lost in an instant if the environmental movement allows itself to be equated with opposition to one of the lone sources of growth - and of good blue-collar jobs - at a time of global economic stagnation.

A final conclusion to draw from the next oil revolution is a little more existential. This is yet another reminder that what both common sense and expert consensus assure us to be true very often isn't. It was obvious that efficient markets worked and financial deregulation would stimulate economic growth, until the financial crisis and the subsequent international economic recession. It was equally apparent that we were running out of oil - until we weren't.


On Capital Tonight, YNN

Speaking at Fort Drum today to promote the ReEnergy Coal Plant today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo tied expanding the state’s energy options to growing the economy.

Cuomo ostensibly was answering a question on whether communities should have the option of not allowing renewable energy projects in their municipalities such as wind power.

The governor agreed that “home rule” was an essential fact of life for local governments here in New York, but said there has to be a “balance.”

There also has to be a reasonableness, because we have to remember at the end of the day we need power. We need power. At what point if you’re not constructing power plants or renewable plants or designing a portfolio or siting anything, you can’t power an economy. So you can’t say no to wind and no to solar and no to biomass and no to power plants and then say I want jobs and I want a thriving economy. That’s the balance we have to reach.

Of course, Cuomo did not mention the word “fracking” at all in his question-and-answer session with reporters — he was taking solely about renewable fuels.

While on the surface it’s a bit ho-hum, it’s a significant quote given Fred LeBrun’s scoop today that the state is on the verge of publishing a plan that would allow very limited hydrofracking. Proponents of using the controversial natural-gas extraction process argue that such a move would be beneficial to New York, especially the state’s Southern Tier.

Opponents say allowing high-volume fracking would do irreperable damage to the area water table and human health.

It’s an emotional debate for both sides. The governor, no friend of emotional rhetoric that pushes him to do one thing or the other, has tried to at least publicly turn the temperature done a bit, especially since the issue could very well be the defining note of the second half of his first term.

But should fracking be allowed even on a limited basis, the “balance” argument from Cuomo like the one above could be heard frequently.

By Sarah Laskow in CapitolNewYork.com

12:34 pm Aug. 9, 2012

ITHACA—Sitting on the porch of the ecolodge he's building, Bob Lyon pointed up the hill in front of us.

"That's where the company drilled the well," he said. "We sat here for a months with the tower blinking and the compressor hissing, all summer long."

Lyon's ecolodge is going up in New York's Southern Tier, on top of one of the thickest, most potentially lucrative sections of the Marcellus Shale, which is possibly the single largest source of newly accessible natural gas in the country.

His family owns almost 300 undeveloped acres in Tioga County—a private nature preserve. Every morning, he sees a bald eagle fishing in one of his ponds, with her two eaglets. Twice a week, two pairs of mating bob cats pass through.

The gas company that drilled the well on top of Lyon's hill wanted to start fracking—extracting natural gas using a controversial drilling technique without which the gas would be unreachable—until the New York Department of Environmental Conservation put a moratorium on the practice.

With the ban in place, the company capped the well and retreated. From the porch, there's no evidence the industry was there at all.

Since then, Lyon's been released from the original gas lease on the land. But if the gas company were to come back, to open the possibility of a new lease, he would sign it.

Under New York law a company could harvest the gas underneath his property, anyway, from a well drilled elsewhere, paying him royalties for the bounty extracted. But Lyon, 50, a dentist, a philanthropist, the owner of a small construction company whose family has lived in this area as long as any white people have, would also sign the lease because he's all for natural gas drilling.

Lyon considers himself an environmentalist. He moved out here to the country full-time because he wanted to live in the middle of nowhere. He has an agreement with the state that keeps him from mowing his lawns in mid-July so that fawns and the chicks of wild turkeys have safe places to nestle into the tall grass. He cares deeply about the quality of the water on this piece of land: He's seen pintails, blue- and green-winged teals, hooded mergansers, common mergansers, and once, three weeks last sweltering summer, a great white heron who had no business being this far north.

"They wouldn't be here unless the water was crystal-clear perfect," Lyon said.

He knows there are risks to fracking, and that accidents have happened in other states, and that the gas industry, like any industry, has a financial incentive to take shortcuts.

"If anyone stands to lose a gigantic amount, it would be me and my wife," he said. "We invested our life savings in this property."

But he sees benefits to drilling, too, including the relative environmental benefit of a fuel source that produces less carbon pollution than other fossil fuels. He thinks the gas industry has had enough time and made enough mistakes that it can operate with a measure of common sense now. He's pleased that the state's Department of Environmental Conservation took the time to look closely at fracking and at the best way to regulate the industry. Now he thinks it's time for them to get out of the way.


Three years ago, big environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace were arguing for natural gas development without any of the caveats they bring up today. Opposition came primarily from small grassroots organizations that were at least as concerned with local environmental impacts as with the global-scale carbon impact on which national groups were focused.

Many of the locally focused grassroots opponents want to ban fracking altogether, and in response, the national environmental groups have grown more cautious in their support of natural gas. The tentative, unusual alliance between environmentalists and the natural gas industry has fallen apart, and the debate in Washington has reverted to more typical form, with Republicans arguing that government regulation is stifling business opportunity and Democrats arguing that government-imposed restrictions are the only thing stopping the profit-hungry industry from doing irreparable damage to the environment.

It's still possible to find people in the environmental movement who think fracking for natural gas should go forward, with the right regulations. It’s also possible to find Democratic politicians, including President Obama, who agree with them.

If there is such a thing as safe fracking, New York arguably has the best chance of any state of pulling it off. Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration has proceeded more slowly than other state governments with such a large and potentially productive sections of shale within their jurisdictions. This summer, the administration floated the idea, via a front-page article in The New York Times, of opening up five counties in the Southern Tier for fracking, if local governments approve the drilling. A real fracking plan will reportedly be out by Labor Day.)

I met Bob Lyon because I went looking for people in the Southern Tier who actually believed in what Obama and Cuomo seem to be promising. I wasn't sure these people even existed: the position that Obama and other politicians have staked out feels like a mushy political ground between the greener Democrats worried about unforeseeable environmental consequences of fracking and anti-regulation Republicans who think Americans deserve quick access to any fossil fuels found in the ground.

But I found at least a handful of people living in the five counties where fracking could go forward—an organic dairy farmer, a retired international businessman, a family that gets its electricity from solar panels— who cared deeply about the fate of their land, water and air, who didn't trust the gas industry to protect those resources, and who thought that New York should let fracking go ahead.

These people aren't necessarily representative of views in the area. All of them identified as environmentalists. All of them owned land and stood to benefit financially from gas leases, although all of them said money wasn't a motivating factor for them. All of them belonged or had belonged to landowners' coalitions, some of which are friendlier with the gas industry than others. There are plenty of people in the Southern Tier who don't share their perspective—drilling opponents convinced that fracking will ruin the place they've build their homes and drilling supporters who aren't particularly concerned about the environment.

One way of looking at the politicians and people who think safe fracking is possible: They're caught up in the Great American Fantasy—my lawyer's better than your lawyer. Write the right regulations or draw up a stronger lease and any potential issues will disappear (or result in substantial financial remuneration).

But the pro-drilling environmentalists I talked to were thoughtful about the risk of fracking and also mindful of the rewards. Some of them thought it was important for the state to closely monitor and regulate fracking. Others thought the best protection against environmental risk was a strong lease with protections built in. All of them also acknowledged that the process isn't perfect, that accidents happen, that they're betting a valued asset—their land—on their conviction that fracking can be done right.

ONE THING ABOUT THESE PEOPLE: THEY are decidedly not impressed by that flammable-tap-water thing,

. In the Southern Tier, the tap water's been flammable for years, well before anyone ever heard about fracking. Setting your faucet aflame is a parlor trick, they say—a gimmick to impress newcomers.

"People have blown it out of proportion," said Christy Everitt. "There was methane in the water before."

Everitt, 50, lives outside of Vestal, New York, in Broome County. Her husband grew up here, and she grew up just across the border, in Pennsylvania. They bought this property in 1995, and they plan on living here for the rest of their lives.

They built their house on top of a hill, facing south to suck up passive solar energy, and down below three substantial solar panels tilt toward the sky. They grow vegetables in a small garden, compost their food scraps, and are raising chickens. When it's hot out, they don't depend on air conditioning: They retreat to the cooler basement or, as on the day I came by, sit outside on a bench beneath a tree, where a breeze often floats by.

This land had been available for a while when Everitt and her husband had the chance to purchase it. There was already a power line on the property and a gas pipeline, features that aren't exactly popular with potential landowners. But to her mind, those are the things required to live with billions of people on the planet.

"Do I really want it in my backyard? Not really," she said. "But I don't want to use it and have no responsibility for it coming into my hands."

That's one reason she supports drilling. People like solar, but they don't really know what's involved, she said—how many big, unsightly panels it takes to create enough electricity to power even one house. They fight wind turbines, too, just because they're ugly.

"Most of the people who oppose gas, they don't have their facts quite straight," she said. "I don't want anything to happen to this community or to my property."

Not that she trusts gas companies, which have very different needs from communities and landowners. The first time a land agent showed up a offered her family a lease, she and her husband turned down the offer, because they didn't have enough time to look into what signing that lease would mean. It wasn't until a few year later, when they started hearing about the drilling going on Pennsylvania, that they found time to educate themselves.

Everitt had the Farm Bureau come to do a presentation on fracking and argued to her neighbors that they should slow down the process, not start drilling too fast. She started scouring the Internet for information and exchanging new knowledge with people in town. She also joined a coalition in Vestal and one based in Friendsville, Pennsylvania.

Landowners' groups like these not only help neighbors educate each other but can give landowners bargaining power when they deal with gas companies.

Richard Lasky, a retired business man who worked in publishing in New York and fashion in Paris, started a coalition in Chenango County after a land agent paid a visit to his house and tried to convince him to sign a lease.

"He starts explaining to me how rich I'm going to be," Lasky said.

As the agent went on about the advantages of singing with a large company, Lasky looked at the lease in his hand and found that it was actually two leases. When he asked which he was meant to sign, the agent said he had to sign both, that the company would take the two leases and combine parts from each to create a final lease. Lasky, a veteran of many a business deal, thought that proposal was crazy and said as much.

"He put his hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eye, and he said to me, 'Don't worry. I'll take care of you,'" said Lasky. "That's what got me angry, that they could look you straight in the face and promise that everything in the world is going to be yours."

He called together his neighbors and started a landowners’ coalition that eventually grew to represent the owners of, collectively, more than 100,000 acres of land. They had a lawyer draw up a lease with strong environmental protections in it, with the idea that their lease, rather than a gas company's, would be the starting point for negotiations.

Everitt's coalition also consulted a lawyer, one that had worked in the past for the gas industry, to help draw up a lease. She and her family did eventually sign a lease with a gas company. It was a good lease, with environmental protections strong enough to mitigate the environmental risks of gas drilling and the inherent risks of working with a multi-billion dollar gas company, she said.

To more than one of the people I talked to, including Everitt, it seemed that the environmentalists who are fighting to ban fracking are fighting the wrong battle. In their view, gas drilling's going to happen in this part of New York sooner or later, and by pushing for a ban, opponents are undermining the power of landowners' coalitions to extract promises of greater protections from gas companies. While New York's state government has been working on tightening regulations, the value in Everitt's area was reassessed and the worth of the gas taken into account. Property taxes went up, and without the income that gas companies promise, not everyone could afford that bump.

"You've pushed people to the point where they have fewer choices," Everitt said. "They think, ‘I don't know if my coalition is going to get a deal.’ They step away from the coalition because they feel they don't have a choice. They sign a lease even if they know it's not the best choice or the best deal."

THE PRO-FRACKING ENVIRONMENTALISTS CAN OFTEN SOUND indistinguishable from the opponents of drilling. Their list of concerns, at least, is identical: wastewater disposal, disclosure of fracking chemicals and monitoring of the wells' production volumes. They’re just not convinced that fracking will inevitably ruin their land, and see the risks as a reasonable trade-off for the benefits.

Being so close to the border with Pennsylvania, where fracking is permitted, some of them know farmers who've leased their land to gas companies and been able to pour the proceeds right back into their struggling farms.

Neil Vitale, who's owned a farm in Steuben County for more than 45 years, often travels across the border into the Pennsylvania to visit a machinery dealer there. When farmers in Pennsylvania first leased their land and received signing bonuses for the gas company, the dealer told Vitale he could barely keep up with the orders for new machines.

"He was so busy selling new, he couldn't even go over the old stuff to resell," Vitale said.

Vitale, a soft-spoken man who lives in a house he and his sons built, started farming organically 15 years ago and has been officially certified for the last ten.

"I knew we were using too many antibiotics," he said.

He started phasing out pesticides from his land and antibiotics from his herd, and after a few years applied for official certification in order to sell milk to Horizon, the organic dairy company.

Running a small dairy farm is tough financially, though.

"Most farmers in this area could use the extra income that could be generated from gas drilling for their farm," he said. "The small, family-operated dairy farmer is going to be extinct. There's going to be plenty of milk because there's large conglomerate dairies that milk thousands of cows. Those cows never see grass, and they're going to produce the milk for our country."

Keeping family farmers in business and happy cows is the field is on Vitale's list of fracking benefits. He's most moved, though, by the prospect of home-grown energy.

"I want our water protected,” he said. “I want our soils protected. I don't want any contamination. That's why I'm an organic farmer. But I know we need energy. There’s nothing free in this world. There's environmental impact for everything you produce energy with."

I believe that this quote,"We are aware there are those people who will never accept those tenets regarding the natural gas industry. That is their right. But it is the right of others to attempt to tell a practical story about how the industry really works and that is what the "Truthland" project presentation was about." taken from the following August 5th oped represents what I think is the essence of Truthland. It gets straight to the point about the other side of the story and is sensitive about Josh Fox and the applause he has gotten for trash when it comes to Truthfulness. The point of truthland stands on its own, however I really doubt it would ever be considered for a film making award, no mater the category. JLCpulse
August 5, 2012   Williamsport Sun-Gazette   OpED

You've probably heard about "Gasland," the anti-gas documentary that has made national headlines. It's less likely you've heard of "Truthland," a production of former science teacher and Susquehanna County farmer Shelly Depue that is a response to "Gasland."

Depue spoke to experts around the country as her part in a project of the Independent Petroleum Association of American and Energy in Depth. She is showing the film across Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, including the Community Arts Center this past week, where a panel discussion followed.

Those on the panel made points that are worth repeating for the sake of clarification, since emotions and viewpoints have a way of misrepresenting groups and industries:

Just because gas industry businesses are migrating to the region doesn't mean they can't be local in spirit as they establish their own hiring practices.

Industry investments create resources and economy while also increasing the area wage scale.

Presence of the industry and related businesses stabilizes the employment rate, girding the area from economic slumps occurring elsewhere.

While the marriage of natural gas drilling and water supplies is tricky, the presence of the industry has resulted in water testing not previously done.

While wind and solar power are excellent energy alternatives, they can't be developed as easily and therefore aren't as accessible or affordable.

For our part, we have supported in this space various energy sources that will wean the country off dependence on foreign oil, wind and solar energy development included. Natural gas development just appears to be the source with the most potential for augmenting the nation's energy needs effectively.

Is the industry without flaws? By no means. But can these flaws, when managed correctly, be overcome? Yes.

We are aware there are those people who will never accept those tenets regarding the natural gas industry. That is their right. But it is the right of others to attempt to tell a practical story about how the industry really works and that is what the "Truthland" project presentation was about.

The gas field is about to overtake a similarly rich formation in Arkansas and Texas.

By Kevin Begos in Associated Press 8/6/2012

PITTSBURGH - The Marcellus Shale is about to become the most productive natural gas field in the United States, according to new data from energy industry analysts and the federal government.

Though serious drilling began only five years ago, the sheer volume of Marcellus production suggests that in some ways there's no going back, even as New York debates whether to allow drilling in its portion of the shale, which also lies under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

The top spot for the Marcellus "doesn't surprise me," said Jay Apt, a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University. "But will it lead to industries that spring up to use that gas?" he asked, adding that much of the bounty could end up being shipped to Canada, the Gulf Coast, or overseas.

In 2008, Marcellus production barely registered on national energy reports. In July, the combined output from Pennsylvania and West Virginia wells was about 7.4 billion cubic feet per day, according to Kyle Martinez, an analyst at Bentek Energy. That's more than double the 3.6 billion cubic feet from April, and represents more than 25 percent of national shale gas production.

That's neck and neck with production from the Haynesville region in Arkansas and Texas, but new drilling permits there have declined sharply.

The Powell Shale Digest, an industry newsletter based in Fort Worth, Texas, concluded that a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency means "it is reasonable to assume" the Marcellus has or will soon pass Haynesville as the top producer.

The Marcellus Shale is a gas-rich formation of rock thousands of feet below ground. Advances in drilling technology made the shale accessible, which led to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, and a drop in natural gas prices for consumers. But there are also concerns about pollution and impacts to roads and other public services.

Apt said having a natural resource bounty was one thing, and using it wisely was another. The current wholesale price of natural gas is about $3 here, but $12 or more in Europe and Japan.

"It's clear people will want to export" the Marcellus gas, Apt said, adding that such an outcome could lead to what economists call "the resource curse," which is when the general population hardly benefits while a few get very rich.

But Apt said there were some hopeful signs, such as Shell Oil Co.'s plan to build a petrochemical plant to turn Marcellus gas into other consumer and industrial products, including plastics. It's widely believed that if Shell moves ahead with plans to build that $2 billion plant north of Pittsburgh, other small industries will follow.

For now, it looks like the Marcellus region will be in the top production spot for several years, analysts say. Though drilling has slowed, there were still 288 new well permits issued in May, and more than 1,200 for the first five months of the year, according to data from LCI Energy Insight, an El Paso firm that tracks national energy trends.

Martinez noted that several major Marcellus region pipeline expansions were scheduled for completion in the fall, which should allow production to grow even more and make it easier to ship gas to other parts of the Northeast.

That could boost wholesale prices, he said, and keep energy companies focused on the region.

"Long-term, being able to move the gas out of the region will give some support to those prices," Martinez said.

August 05, 2012|By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer in Philly.com

Michael Krancer, Gov. Corbett's chief environmental regulator, seems to delight in doing battle with critics of the state's oversight of the Marcellus Shale gas boom.

In May, Krancer said that Delaware "smells like the tail of a dog" because of its opposition to drilling regulations proposed for the Delaware River Basin. In a congressional hearing, he challenged a Cornell University scientist to a duel over hydraulic fracturing (just kidding, Krancer said).

Then there were Krancer's snarky skirmishes with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over regulation of drilling, which is traditionally a function of state agencies like Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, the agency Krancer heads.

"We realize and recognize that EPA is very new to all of this and the EPA's understanding of the facts and science behind this activity is rudimentary," Krancer wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson this year.

In an interview last week, Krancer said he was not out to pick fights with opponents, only to engage in mutual enlightenment.

"I'm not battling with people," said Krancer, a former corporate lawyer and environmental law judge who lives in Bryn Mawr. "I'm dialoguing with people."

Krancer's feistiness has won some praise from industry supporters, who say anti-drilling activists have distorted the risks of hydraulic fracturing, the controversial shale-gas extraction technique. But the secretary's tactics have also galvanized environmentalists, said Maya von Rossum, the head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. She said Krancer's "name-calling and bullying" had worn thin.

David Masur, director of PennEnvironment, said Krancer's approach is polarizing. He said DEP continues to call out PennEnvironment for publishing a photo last year of a flooded Marcellus drilling rig that turns out to have been shot in Pakistan.

"I don't think if I called the secretary a horse's ass he would say, 'Great, we're starting a dialogue,' " said Masur. "He would be irate."

Krancer's latest nemesis in the shale-gas culture war is the Natural Resources Defense Council, which he has been jousting with since the environmental group released a report in May that criticized Pennsylvania's management of drilling wastewater.

The resource council's report, which received little media attention, apparently touched a nerve with Krancer, who believes that the Republican administration has not gotten enough credit for reining in the drilling industry on wastewater.

An interesting bit of prose, however not confirmed by any official channels so treat it as what it is, a set of comments by Mr LeBrun,  who is attributed with the writing,  who may not be all that pleased by any approvals that may take place.JLCpulse

August 3, 2012 Fred LeBrun in Timesunion.com
For those desperately hoping against hope that high volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas will be blocked from coming into New York state, sorry. For you, the end of the world arrives before Labor Day.
Top state officials are in the process of briefing selected environmental groups on a plan to be publicly released in a couple of weeks. It’s a plan that unsurprisingly endorses hydrofracking, initially on a limited basis, supposedly under the tightest regulatory and permitting requirements in the country.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is wading through the last of the more than 60,000 public comments received on the draft environmental impact statement over fracking. We have been assured those public comments will be reflected in the final environmental statement and in the subsequent new state fracking regulations that result.
Details of the plan, which no doubt will be tweaked before going public, are scant, but generally follow those contained in the trial balloon floated in The New York Times a few weeks ago. Namely, that in the first year (2013), only 50 wells will be permitted, the second year, 100, and then only in towns that want them.
This is consistent with what the governor has alluded to as a “ramp-up period,” should fracking occur. Well, apparently it’s going to. No new DEC monitoring or inspection staff members will be added for the first run of wells, and initially nothing will be done to regulate removing highly contaminated wastewater from well sites. It will be treated as “medical waste,” a lower legal level of concern than toxic waste. No direct taxes or levies on the drilling industry are in the initial plans. Even Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s excellent idea of extending the oil spill fund concept to the gas drillers to cover local mishap costs to property owners and municipalities has no traction, I’m told, because of where the idea came from, not because it lacks merit. What does differ from the trial balloon is that it seems the administration has concluded it cannot rely on the strength of existing laws and current DEC funding in this area to adequately protect the state, its citizens and resources.
For fracking to go forward, the Legislature will be called on for extra DEC funding and to pass a package of yet unspecified regulatory bills. This will make the Legislature a full partner in the charms and risks of hydrofracking, and should make for an interesting and shifting dynamic as we go forward.
There are certainly a number of areas were current regulations or laws are inadequate or suspect, from required wastewater treatment and removal, to groundwater protection, health risk concerns and monetary safeguards against major screw-ups. An area that’s gotten little notice, for example, is the state Department of Transportation and the effect fracking will have on our roads, bridges and related infrastructure. As the voluminous draft generic environmental impact statement makes clear, the DOT has been working for years to anticipate the costs and problems fracking and the resulting explosion of truck traffic would bring to our roads. The dollar figures they reveal, even in a general way, are staggering.
Listed are the many local roads and secondary bridges, along with their state analogs, in Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties that would likely need major maintenance or replacement. That would be to the tune of $28 million to $31 million each for the bridges, and $300,000 and up per lane mile of pavement. A fracking truck on those roads is equivalent to 9,000 passenger cars in terms of wear and tear.Those are the DOT’s amazing statistics, not mine. What is equally amazing, or appalling, is that the DOT has no regulatory power over this extraordinary drilling industry invited into our state. The best they can wangle is some sort of road use agreement for paying for damage and wear.
Once again, the drilling industry is privatizing the profits, socializing the costs.
The experience in Pennsylvania, where a similar road use agreement exists, is that repayment seems to come up short, and is a long time in coming. This is certainly an area were new laws with new teeth are called for. Considering DiNapoli’s report last week on the dire fiscal straits of countless local governments in the state, local highway budgets simply cannot afford the luxury of fracking without full compensation .
Meanwhile, the highest courts in the state will have something to say about the fracking schedule. While not making much of an issue of it, the DEC as it goes forward by the end of the year with its fracking regulations is tacitly assuming the final word will not be in favor of home rule. Currently, two state Supreme Court decisions have awarded the localities the right to ban fracking activities if they wish. That is being appealed in a mid-level court, and we should see that decision any day. Then, no doubt, considering the stakes involved, the entire debate will ascend to the Court of Appeals, probably on an expedited basis, and it will be a delight to see what the last word is.
I believe home rule has a very good choice of prevailing. If that is the case, both the governor and drilling industry will have themselves a big problem in expanding hydrofracking to anywhere near the scale they’d ultimately like.
The other joker in the deck is the November election. For whatever reason, should the state Senate change hands and become Democratic, which is always possible in New York, the governor’s best laid plans will run right into a hostile conference, a conference he’s treated with utter contempt and which happens to house a number of members who have no use for fracking whatever.

Story Updated: Aug 3, 2012 WBNG Binghamton, NY

Colesville, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It's called resolution 59.12. It's become a popular piece of legislation circulating around local municipalities.

It says that no moratorium on hydraulic fracturing will be put in place before the state of New York has made it's decision.

But what is it and who's behind it?

Resolution 59.12 basically puts the decision in the hands of the state.

It's being circulated by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

But why?

"If you look at these issues, they're far too complex for local municipalities to really resolve on their own. The experts on these issues really reside on the state level," said Attorney Scott Kurkoski.

The resolution states this: Be it resolved, that we have confidence the state will develop a program that allows development of our natural gas resources to proceed in a safe, responsible, and competitive manner.

It's the timing of the resolution and the wording that worries some.

"In April Governor Cuomo stated that he would allow drilling in towns that want it. Shortly after that point in early May, towns, or these resolutions began springing up in front of various town boards," said Isaac Silberman-Gorn.

Isaac is among many who think the resolution will be an open invitation for drillers to buy up land if drilling is to be allowed in New York.

"What we're finding is that they're being used to show support for drilling. De facto support for drilling," Silberman-Gorn said.

The Joint Coalition of New York Landowners' position is that it's their land and they should be able to do whatever they want with it.

They also think fracking is the logical next step in America's future.

"It's a whole change in the way our country is working. We now are closer to energy independence than we ever have been before," Kurkoski said.

The resolution faces opposition in Colesville, even now, three months after it was passed, but those speaking out aren't all against it.

During a meeting on August 2, a handful of people also came out to thank the town board for passing the resolution back in May.

The Town of Colesville is trying to organize a forum so both sides can voice their opinions on fracking.

There is no word yet if or when it will happen.

I really hope that no one walks around wondering what has happened to the United States of America. Or wondering why New York State is in such a deep and declining financial position. I think the simple answer revolves around I’ve got mine and I want yours too, polarization of all types, good and evil, right or wrong; and accepting the premise that the end justifies the means mentality.

Truth is truth all day long every day; we can never get together as individuals or as a nation when one person’s truth is another person’s lies. Truth does not depend on perspective; it depends on facts, confirmed by visual evidence as well as the scientific method. If it cannot be proven directly or scientifically it is NOT a fact it is a theory, or a philosophy or an obsession that should not be given the same credence as proven facts.

It seems that there may be a large group of people who after watching "Miracle on 32nd Street" believe there is a Santa Claus because the post office delivers mail to someone dressed up in a red suit. Another group of folks wishful and less based on reality proclaim Gasland and the newest Josh Fox fiction on film are indeed based in fact. Those folks certainly have the right to live their fantasy, but do not have the right to represent that fiction as fact and demand that all believe in their fantasy.

The problem as I see it is that we have many innocent folks in our country who believe that what they see on the news or in a biased documentary are facts. They are frightened by the misrepresentations and frankly do not have the energy or the inclination to discover the truth. As a counter to the false facts the gas companies and their minions respond with refuting the data presented rather than to put out information of their own giving specifics about how they do their jobs and why. How refreshing it would be to have a documentary of the evolution of Hydraulic fracturing from its beginning to date. That documentary would show the issues encountered over time and the regulatory and industry response to those issues. The problem with putting out all of the facts is that in litigation based society, the facts presented honestly could and will be used by adversaries. I am sure you will note that there has been no penalty for misrepresenting facts, or flat out lying about an issue in recent times. This huge bias toward falsehood clearly leaves those less truthful in the catbird seat in our litigation based society.

What we need to move our states/nation and its citizens forward is balance and thoughtful introspection. A time when and where people come together  with full understanding that we all have the right to dream of a better and likely different outcome than each other may want. We need a national /regional understanding that we can still move forward together while agreeing to disagree on one or two out of ten issues. We desperately need to recognize that our current actions are dragging our nation and society down into a bottomless pit which makes us vulnerable to attack by our enemys. This understanding alone should be incentive enough to pull us out of this nose dive. We likely will be defeated by and because of our divisiveness and there will never be a shot fired. We are setting up the keys to our defeat today by not confronting the pressing matters which clearly are set before us. I fear that what may be left are the mournful cries of what might have been. JLCpulse

By PHELIM MCALEER  in NEW YORK POST   Last Updated: 1:23 AM, August 3, 2012  Posted: 10:04 PM, August 2, 2012

Breast cancer is uniquely frightening. Almost everyone knows someone who’s had it, and too many of us know someone it’s killed.

More than 40,000 Americans died of breast cancer last year alone — more than were killed in traffic accidents. Many of the dead are young mothers.

So what are we to think of someone who irresponsibly rings a false alarm about breast cancer — simply to serve his own agenda?

Imagine someone telling people that they are living in an area where the chances of developing breast cancer are shockingly high; picture the alarm and worry.

Fox: Stands by claims, against Susan G. Komen.
Robert Kalfus
Fox: Stands by claims, against Susan G. Komen.

Then imagine if that same person had made up the story — yet was getting cheers from Hollywood stars for telling it.

Stop imagining: Filmmaker Josh Fox has done just that.

Fox uses his films, which he calls documentaries, to crusade against fracking — which is a well-tested way of getting oil and natural gas from deep beneath the ground that’s nonetheless become a target for environmental hysteria.

He was heavily criticized for inaccuracies in “Gasland” — such as telling viewers that fracking makes water flammable. (He recently admitted that he knew that parts of America have had flammable water for decades before fracking, but decided not to include this information because it was “not relevant.”)

The film also painted Dimock, Pa., as the ground zero for polluted water caused by fracking. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency joined every other major US regulatory agency to say that Dimock’s water is safe to drink.

But Fox’s latest film, “The Sky Is Pink,” sets a new low. It tells viewers that, even as US cancer rates are falling, breast cancer is rising in the Barnett area of Texas because of pollution caused by fracking.

An Associated Press investigation found that Fox has absolutely no scientific evidence for this claim.

AP spoke to David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry. He found no breast-cancer spike in Barnett. Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, also dismissed Fox’s claims.

Even Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the famous cancer-advocacy group, said it had seen no spike in breast cancer cases.

Confronted with these facts, Fox cited a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doesn’t support his claim, and a newspaper story that, Risser told AP, was “not based on a careful statistical analysis of the data.”

Frightening the public with a bogus breast-cancer scare is despicable. It may scare some families into moving away, or divert medical resources from areas with real problems.

Faced with cancer experts telling him he’s wrong, it would be ethical to issue an apology and correction. But Fox has continued to make the claims, regardless of the science.

A corporation behaving like this would be out of business, with its executives looking at prison. But Josh Fox is being rewarded for his lies.

HBO has a sequel to “Gasland.” And the Hollywood and environmental elites — Mark Ruffalo, Yoko Ono, Debra Winger, Robert Redford, Bill McKibben and Robert Kennedy — are supporting him.

All are silent about Josh Fox’s despicable lie about breast cancer.

Even Paul McCartney, whose mother and wife Linda died from breast cancer, has remained quiet. The former Beatle is a vocal campaigner for breast-cancer awareness — yet astonishingly is also a vocal supporter of Josh Fox. He recently joined Artists Against Fracking, which cites “Gasland” as a source of information and has Fox as a prominent member.

How can McCartney stomach this lie?

New York is still deciding whether to allow fracking. A word of advice: Don’t believe a single word from anti-fracking activists who are willing to lie about breast cancer.

Phelim McAleer is the director and producer of “FrackNation,” a documentary to be released later this year.

Attached as a PDF is John C. Holkos' letter on Lenape Resourses letterhead to the DEC demanding that state law be followed. We as landowners need to support this bold action in pushing the issues of taking to the forefront. There is no doubt that John Holko has been wronged by the community in which he has operated for years and the feckless non action by the NYS govenor, attorney general and the DEC  that works at the govenors command. Please drop him a line and thank him for his courage, his actions may help free up the log jam that has TAKEN our property rights! JLCpulse

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.




How interesting that the reputed center of the universe and all things good and wonderful , New York State, does not take the same position to protect its landowners and businesses from action by local communities with restricted views and indifference to state law and landowner rights. Do not believe that there is nothing to do but to dream of better times and more courage from our political leaders. We could and should of course remind our leaders over and over that we are here and will be heard one way or another. JLCpulse

State sues Longmont over oil and gas drilling regulations

Colorado Attorney General's office objects to eight provisions, including residential drilling ban
By Scott Rochat Longmont Times-Call
Posted:   07/30/2012 05:17:19 PM MDT

LONGMONT -- The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission sued the city of Longmont on Monday, saying the city's new oil and gas rules trespassed into areas meant to be governed by the state.

The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon in Boulder County District Court. In it, assistant attorney general Jake Matter asked the court to kill several of the new regulations, including a restriction against drilling in residential areas.

"No possible construction of the disputed provisions of the ordinance can be harmonized with the state regulatory regime," Matter wrote in the lawsuit.

The Longmont City Council passed the rules on July 17 by a 5-2 vote, its first update of the city's drilling rules since 2000. The regulations became effective Monday.

Mayor Dennis Coombs said he couldn't comment on the case now that a lawsuit had been filed, but added that he was pleased with the venue.

"I will say that I'm glad they filed in Boulder County, and not Weld County or Denver or someplace else," Coombs said.

The state announced last week that it would sue, a decision that surprised no one on the council.

"In the end, our job is to protect the city of Longmont and its residents," Councilman Gabe Santos said last week.

The case is believed to be the first time the COGCC has sued a community over oil and gas rules. Cities and towns have been sued on the issue before, but typically by oil and gas companies or private landowners.

In the lawsuit, Matter laid out eight concerns the state has. Two are among the best-known provisions in the new law: The city can require water-quality monitoring until five years after the well is abandoned, if necessary, and surface drilling would be banned in residential areas. An operator can ask for an exception to the drilling ban if the restriction would make it impossible to access the company's mineral rights.

In both cases, Matter argued, the rules are "pre-empted" by state authority.

"The city's prohibition will have an extraterritorial effect on the development and production of oil and gas," Matter wrote regarding the residential restriction. "The city ban affects the ability of owners of oil and gas in pools that underlie both the city's residential areas, including 'planned' residential areas, and land outside the city to obtain an equitable share of production profits."

The state also objected to the city's rules for wildlife protection and its required separation distance, or setback, between wells and a wildlife or riparian area. Existing city code requires any building to be at least 100 feet away from a stream or river corridor, or 150 feet from St. Vrain Creek, Boulder Creek, Dry Creek No. 2, Union Reservoir and Left Hand Creek.

Not only did that disregard state authority, Matter said, it disregarded proper well spacing. "Oil and gas are found in subterranean pools, the boundaries of which do not conform to any jurisdictional pattern," Matter wrote in the lawsuit. "(A)n irregular drilling pattern will result in less than optimal recovery and a corresponding waste of oil and gas."

The state also asks the court to strike down:

A requirement that multi-well sites and horizontal drilling be used "whenever possible and appropriate."

A requirement to fully disclose any hazardous materials transported on city roadways.

A rule saying companies may have to file a visual impact analysis, including suggestions

Oil and gas producing wells in Longmont (City of Longmont)
on how to make a well site blend with the landscape.

A rule saying exceptions can be granted if an "operational conflict" with state rules is found to exist by the city.

"The waiver is illusory because the city has no authority to determine whether an operational conflict exists," Matter argued.

While drafting the regulations, city officials said the rules fell within Longmont's land-use authority, including its ability to keep industrial activity out of a residential zone.

"I think it would be the state's waste of time and money if they decide to pursue a lawsuit with us," Councilman Alex Sammoury said July 10, a week before the new rules passed.

From an anti-fracking group, hypocrisy of the first order

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 4:09 AM Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

Anti-fracking activists are trying to have it both ways — ban drilling but keep on using gas.

A group of anti-fracking foodies threw an interesting fund-raiser at the Brooklyn Winery last week.

Their gimmick was to showcase the culinary bounty of the upstate region that’s allegedly in jeopardy if Gov. Cuomo green-lights gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. They call themselves Chefs for the Marcellus.

Guests were treated to eggplant-stuffed okra, smoked lamb belly with fermented tofu and whipped ricotta jewel on toast — along with wines from the Finger Lakes and beers from Cooperstown’s Ommegang brewery.

The only thing more delicious than the menu was the irony, because many if not most of those dishes were cooked over the bright blue flame of natural gas.

That’s right, the Chefs for the Marcellus saw nothing wrong with using the very same fuel they portray as a dire threat to the upstate countryside.

Plus, there’s all the electricity they needed to refrigerate the okra and air-condition the patrons who had paid $125 a pop. Most of those kilowatts, in New York City, were produced by gas-fired power plants.

And every last cubic foot of gas they consumed originated from a hole drilled in the ground. Based on national averages, roughly a quarter of it was extracted from shale formations using the high-volume hydrofracturing method that anti-frackers are working overtime to demonize.

And some of it, in all likelihood, came from non-New York areas of the Marcellus Shale, such as Pennsylvania.

But too many anti-frackers are trying to have it both ways — to completely ban the practice in their own backyard, while continuing to take enjoy the food-cooking, house-warming, juice-generating benefits of gas drilled elsewhere.

“We all cook with gas. We all use gas,” acknowledged Chefs for the Marcellus organizer Hilary Baum. “But we have to be looking at developing alternative energy sources and not be so stuck on fossil fuels.”

Ah, but we are stuck on fossil fuels, at least for the foreseeable future. It will be decades, if not centuries, before we can fully replace them with renewables such as wind and solar or, if it were up to me, greenhouse-gas-free nuclear power.

Even when that day comes, I doubt any windmill will ever be able to properly char a steak or saute a salmon fillet.

Of the fossil options, natural gas is by far the greenest. Drilling has its risks, but they’re minimal compared with the damage caused by carving the top off a mountain in coal country or risking an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gas burns cleaner, too. It causes nowhere near as much smog or acid rain as oil or coal. It wasn’t long ago that environmental types were clamoring for New York’s power industry to burn more of it.

Gas also releases much less planet-warming carbon dioxide than other fuels. According to the International Energy Agency, the United States’ CO2 emissions dropped 7.7% between 2006 and 2011 — faster than any other country or region — in part because of “a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector.”

What made that shift happen was high-volume hydrofracturing, a technology that’s allowing the U.S. to tap vast reserves of clean fuel that were previously out of reach.

The benefits for the economy have also been huge. As Manhattan Institute energy expert Robert Bryce points out, fracking has helped lower the price of gas from about $10 per thousand cubic feet in July 2008 to about $3 today. That’s saving the American economy $264 million a day while creating thousands of jobs.

Of course fracking can cause pollution. Every large-scale human activity does. The anti-fracking folks at the Ommegang brewery, for example, suck millions of gallons from the Susquehanna River watershed, burn propane to run their boilers and dispose of wastewater containing cleaning chemicals into leach fields on their own property.

“We try to be as clean as we possibly can,” spokesman Larry Bennett told me.

The same cost-benefit logic should apply to fracking in New York — and will apply, if the Cuomo administration moves forward with what would be the toughest drilling regulations in the nation, if not the world.

“It’s easy to demonize the oil and gas industry,” said Bryce. “But getting along without the fuels they provide takes us back to the Stone Age.”

Nobody, not even hard-core environmentalists, wants to live there.

Published: Friday, Jul. 27, 2012 - 2:00 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 27, 2012 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today announced that the state has appealed to the state Supreme Court yesterday's Commonwealth Court split decision which set aside key provisions of the state's new Marcellus Shale law.

"The provisions struck down by the Commonwealth Court are critically important for job creators who are employing more than 240,000 Pennsylvanians, for landowners seeking to exercise their property rights, and for local governments looking for guidance on how they may reasonably regulate oil and gas operations," Corbett said. "The provisions are also integral to the enhanced environmental standards and impact fee revenue portions of the Act. Indeed, there would be no Act without each of these crucial pieces."

"It is important to note that the provisions casually set aside by the court were the result of months of compromise and negotiation, with significant input and support from Pennsylvania's local government associations," Corbett said. "Both the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, which represents 1,455 municipalities, urged passage of the law. This decision endangers the jobs of tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians and deprives citizens of their property rights.

"It is the General Assembly and Governor's prerogative to establish policy; it is the court's job to pass judgment on the constitutionality of this policy, not its merits. Act 13 clearly meets the constitutionality test, and I am confident the Supreme Court will adhere to its responsibility in a prompt and timely manner."

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/27/4667384/pa-governor-corbett-appeals-commonwealth.html#storylink=cpy

EPA report undercuts hysterical claims leveled against gas production

  • By THE WASHINGTON TIMES The Washington Times Friday, July 27, 2012
  • The anti-affordable energy crowd has suffered another setback. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday released the results of extensive testing that found nothing toxic in the water in Dimock, Pa. That’s the town where the anti-drilling documentary “Gasland” filmed dramatic images of a homeowner lighting his tap water on fire.

    The film blamed the strange occurrence on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a procedure that uses a pressurized mixture to extract natural gas from shale rock formations. It argued the process had polluted the nearby ground water. Liberals were so thrilled by the hit job that they awarded it a special jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

    According to the EPA’s study, drilling is the not the root of the problems in Dimock. The agency sampled the well water at 61 homes and found health concerns in only five of them. The substances found include arsenic, barium and manganese, all of which are naturally occurring.

    The inconvenient truth for self-styled environmental activists who’ve been protesting fracking operations is that natural gas’ abundance in the United States is a threat to trendy energy sources like wind and solar. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, domestic natural gas production increased 24 percent between 2006 and 2011. As more gas was extracted from the ground, prices dropped 72 percent, making it far less expensive for consumers to heat their homes during the winter and power their appliances throughout the year.

    For the affordable energy industry, fracking is critical because it makes it possible to draw natural gas and oil from difficult rock formations. Without it, large pools of untapped energy would be kept off-limits. That’s exactly what anti-progress liberals want. Cheap, abundant, affordable and sensible choices like coal, natural gas and petroleum encourage energy independence based on domestic production.

    Cheap energy is vital to the manufacturing sector, lowering the overall cost of goods which increases consumption. That drives economic growth and prosperity, but it does so without government involvement, direction and stimulus. By contrast, the left promotes the power sources of the past, windmills and sun power, because they cannot stand on their own without governmental support. Windmills don’t work if there’s no breeze, and solar panels don’t generate any electricity after sundown. As a result, they can only compete if speed bumps are placed in the way of oil and natural gas production. That’s why the left has put the smear campaign against fracking in high gear.

    Unfortunately, much of the damage has already been done. Those who watched the documentary about flaming tap water aren’t likely to come across an obscure, 725-page report posted on EPA’s website. Regardless, they ought to know that fracking is here to stay. That’s good news for those of us who prefer cheap power to the overpriced alternatives.

    The Washington Times

    This is the first portion of an article in Columbus Business First which requires a subscription for the full article. You may be interested in lots more since it relates to regulation of the gas companies with regard to minimum royalties of 15%. JLCpulse

    Jeff Bell   Staff reporter-  Columbus Business First

    State Rep. Mark Okey is trying to turn up the heat on Republican leaders at the Statehouse to get behind a bill to protect landowners from oil and natural gas companies developing the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in eastern Ohio.

    Calling such companies “predatory,” the Democrat from Carrollton is urging Gov. John Kasich and other Republican leaders to support his Truth in Leasing Act. It would establish regulations for the oil and gas leasing process and require companies to pay property owners a minimum royalty of 15 percent on oil and gas extracted in the shale plays.

    Okey and...


    By Ayesha Rascoe in Reuters

    WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Thursday launched its first major salvo in support of shale oil and gas development, unveiling a campaign promoting the economic benefits of the booming energy sector that is under fire from environmentalists.

    The powerful business group will be running newspaper and radio ads in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia where the shale gas boom has sharply boosted drilling.

    "There are critics and opponents and we welcome that debate," said Karen Harbert, who heads the energy arm of the chamber.

    "We're going to take that on and humanize it with the real stories that are happening across the country."

    Touting the potential of shale energy to revitalize areas hard hit by the economic downturn, Harbert said the "Shale Works for US" campaign will highlight local success stories with people already benefiting from shale development.

    The chamber's campaign comes as green groups intensify their attacks on shale gas development. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups are planning a national rally in Washington D.C. on Saturday attacking hydraulic fracturing.

    Advances in hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to extract fuel, have unlocked vast shale gas resources across the nation.

    Some environmental groups have called for more federal regulation of fracking, which they say pollutes the air and taints groundwater. Supporters say the practice is safe and has been used for decades.

    Facing a tight election in November, U.S. President Barack Obama has stressed his support for shale gas, as well as its economic potential.

    Still, the Obama administration has acknowledged the concerns raised by its environmental voter base and the administration has proposed air emission rules and a new regulatory regime for fracking on public lands.

    Harbert said the chamber will challenge any Obama administration policies that it believes will hamper development.

    "We will not shy away from being a very active participant in the national dialogue, so we fashion the common sense policies we need," Harbert said. "We do not need more regulation for regulation's sake." (Editing by Marguerita Choy)

    Written by Kevin Begos in Associated Press
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday 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.

    The EPA said in a statement that it doesn’t plan further tests, and that there’s no need to provide residents with alternative supplies of drinking water.

    Dimock resident Ray Kemble didn’t accept the EPA verdict.

    “I don’t care what EPA says. The water is still polluted,” Kemble said. “Do something about it.”

    The town became a focus in the debate over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, when opponents of the drilling technique showed that some residents were able to light their tap water on fire because of high levels of methane gas. But geologists say such contamination can happen naturally.

    Some Dimock residents and anti-drilling groups claimed Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. polluted the local aquifer with methane and toxic chemicals. They have disputed earlier EPA findings that the water was safe.

    State environmental regulators previously determined that Cabot contaminated the aquifer underneath homes along Carter Road in Dimock with explosive levels of methane. They later determined the company had met its obligations under a consent agreement and allowed Cabot to stop delivering bulk and bottled water last fall.

    Some had hoped the EPA would be able to settle the dispute.
    “Our goal was to provide the Dimock community with complete and reliable information about the presence of contaminants in their drinking water and to determine whether further action was warranted to protect public health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.

    But another Dimock resident said the EPA’s public statements are different from what it tells area homeowners in private.

    “They recommended that we don’t drink or use the water, but told us they can’t go public with that,” said Scott Ely, who added that he plans to proceed with a lawsuit against Cabot.

    Cabot said in a statement that the tests confirm that the contaminants don’t pose a threat to human health or the environment, and that its operations in Dimock “have led to significant economic growth in the area, marked by a collaborative relationship with the local community. Cabot will continue to cooperate with federal, state and local officials in using the best and most accurate science to address public concerns.”

    Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, said the EPA findings mean “we’re now able to close this chapter once and for all.”

    Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. Shale is a gas-rich rock formation thousands of feet underground, and the gas is freed through hydrofracking, in which large volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals, are injected to break the rock apart.

    The Marcellus Shale covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, and many other shale deposits have been discovered.

    Found in Marcellus Drilling News July 25, 2012      No attribution to an author

    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…


    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.”

    Posted on July 24, 2012 at 6:34 am by Bloomberg in Natural Gas, Shale

    Natural-gas production from shale formations rose in May on increased supplies from the Marcellus deposit even after prices fell to a 10-year low, Energy Department data show.

    Total output from shale formations in the continental U.S. averaged 25.58 billion cubic feet a day in May, 24 percent higher than a year earlier and up 1.7 percent from April, according to slides that accompany a presentation the department will make to Congress Aug. 1. Shale production has gained 5.7 percent this year.

    Production from shale deposits with oil and other liquids has gained as dry-gas output has declined in response to decade- low prices, the department said in its Short-Term Energy Outlook on July 10. Gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange dropped to $1.902 per million British thermal units April 19.

    May output from the Marcellus shale in the eastern U.S. averaged 6.85 bcf a day, up 6.4 percent from the previous month and gained 28 percent during the first five months of the year. May 2011 production averaged 3.37 bcf daily.

    Haynesville shale output in Louisiana and Texas averaged 6.92 bcf a day, down from 6.93 billion in April. Production from the region has declined 2.4 percent this year. Output averaged 6.43 billion cubic feet a day in May 2011.

    Barnett Output

    Output at the Barnett shale in Texas was 4.67 bcf daily, from 4.66 billion in April, department data show. Production dropped 1.7 percent versus May 2011.

    The average for Eagle Ford shale gas output in southern Texas was 1.52 billion cubic feet a day in May, up from 1.51 billion the previous month. Production has gained 6.3 percent this year. Output averaged 820 million cubic feet a day a year ago.

    Woodford shale output in Oklahoma averaged 1.14 billion cubic feet a day in May, up from 1.13 billion both in April and during May 2011. Fayetteville production in Arkansas declined 1.1 percent this year to 2.68 billion cubic feet a day. Output averaged 2.69 billion in April and 2.54 billion in May 2011.

    Bakken gas output in North Dakota held steady at 190 million cubic feet a day in May versus the previous month. Production is up 19 percent from a year earlier. Gas from the Antrim shale in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio averaged 290 million cubic feet a day in May, unchanged versus April and May 2011.

    Gas for August delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed 3.6 cents, or 1.2 percent, today to $3.117 per million Btus, the highest settlement price since Dec. 22. Gas is up 4.3 percent this year on increased demand from power generators that switched from costlier coal.

    By Tiffany Kary - Jul 24, 2012 3:55 PM ET in Bloomberg

    The U.S. said a New York State lawsuit seeking fuller review of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the state’s water supply should be dismissed because the multistate commission responsible for the watershed isn’t a U.S. agency.

    The Delaware River Basin Commission, created in 1961 by New York and three other states and the federal government, is responsible for rules governing the natural gas-extraction process known as fracking. New York sued federal agencies in May 2011 to force a fuller assessment of the environmental impact that gas development could have its water supply.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Levy argued today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, that the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal parties sued by the state don’t have control over how the commission regulates fracking.

    “The federal defendants didn’t cause the rules to be proposed and can’t stop them from being issued,” Levy said. She also told U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis that the DRBC doesn’t have to comply with U.S. laws that require a fuller environmental review because it isn’t a federal agency.

    Federal Agency

    New York, arguing that the DRBC is a federal agency, maintains that it does have a right to sue. The state seeks a ruling in its favor without a full trial.

    Garaufis said he would rule on the motions after today’s hearing.

    The commission says it lacks funds for a full environmental review even if it was obliged to conduct one. The DRBC is a compact formed between Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and tasked with protecting the water quality in the Delaware Basin.

    “So we have an unfunded mandate -- you have responsibility but not the capability to protect the water quality of four states and 15 million people?” Garaufis asked a lawyer for the DRBC.

    Kenneth Warren, the lawyer, said the DRBC can’t afford to make a full environmental impact statement, partly because New York hasn’t paid its fair share. Still, the commission has done its own “robust” analysis and will issue regulations that will provide an extra layer of protection over what the states in its compact do on their own to regulate.

    Stringent Regulations

    If New York issues more stringent regulations on fracking, they will be required on top of what the commission proposes.

    Assistant Attorney General Andrew Frank said the state, while can’t regulate fracking in other states, may still be exposed to air and water pollution.

    The federal agencies named as defendants also argued today that the state can’t prove injury from fracking, and that the case isn’t “ripe” because the commission hasn’t issued any regulations yet. The state said it can’t determine how protective the rules are without a full environmental impact statement.

    The lawsuit, brought by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, also pits arguments for environmental conservation against those for a domestic energy source and new jobs. New York City Council and environmental groups have sided with the state, warning of breathing problems for city residents and risks to fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Trade groups that represent companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) have sided with the federal government, and say the lawsuit is based on “speculative fears.”

    Scientific Experts

    Both sides have filed declarations from scientific experts, creating hundreds of pages of court documents. The expert testimony covers issues including due process to accidents, and how toxins are handled.

    Garaufis said today he will also rule on whether the trade groups have formal standing to intervene in the case.

    Schneiderman claimed in his suit the DRBC and federal agencies had proposed regulations that will allow fracking at 15,000 to 18,000 gas wells without a full environmental review.

    If the regulations are issued, a moratorium on drilling in New York, already in effect for 18 months, will be lifted.

    New York says it has shown that fracking generates millions of gallons of wastewater contaminated with toxic metals and radioactive substances, and that companies drilling in Pennsylvania have violated the law 1,600 times in recent years, harming the state’s water.

    Expert Conclusions

    “The data and methodologies of New York’s experts are unreliable and are inadequate to support their conclusions,” lawyers for the federal agencies wrote.

    The lawsuit might shut down gas development in the Delaware River Basin “for many years to come,” according to trade groups representing oil and gas companies that hold natural gas leases in New York State. The Marcellus Shale, which lies beneath parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, has an estimated 400 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, one of the largest such formations in the world, the trade associations said.

    The Delaware River Basin covers 58 percent of the land area of New York City’s watershed west of the Hudson River.

    The American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the US Oil & Gas Association have filed briefs in the case while they seek more formal status to intervene. They say their members -- pipeline operators, natural gas producers and other businesses -- should be allowed to develop natural gas in the basin while paying heed to environmental rules set by the DRBC.

    Drinking Water

    New York City has spent almost $1.5 billion to protect the drinking water that flows from the watershed west of the Hudson River, Schneiderman said in his complaint. The money has gone to buying land to serve as a buffer for pollutants, upgrading sewage plants and regulating human activity.

    In Pennsylvania, natural gas and related industries have created 72,000 jobs, 3,143 well permits and more than $1 billion in tax revenue since 2009, the trade associations said.

    The case is New York v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 11- cv-2599, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

    Basically the same as a previously posted article form a different geographic area. This is news that is gaining some traction nationally that specifically mentions the inaccuracies of Josh Fox's reporting in his newest misrepresentation of alleged facts. JLCpulse

    By Bob Downing Published: July 23, 2012 in Ohio.com

    From the Associated Press and reporter Kevin Begos:

    PITTSBURGH — In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

    Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.

    For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

    Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren’t being confirmed by monitoring, either.

    And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don’t acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.

    "The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science" on either side, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor studying groundwater contamination who has been praised and criticized by both sides.

    Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. Shale is a gas-rich rock formation thousands of feet underground, and the gas is freed through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which large volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals, are injected to break the rock apart.

    The Marcellus Shale covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, while the Barnett Shale is in north Texas. Many other shale deposits have been discovered.

    One of the clearest examples of a misleading claim comes from north Texas, where gas drilling began in the Barnett Shale about 10 years ago.

    Opponents of fracking say breast cancer rates have spiked exactly where intensive drilling is taking place — and nowhere else in the state. The claim is used in a letter that was sent to New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo by environmental groups and by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of "Gasland," a film that criticizes the industry. Fox, who lives in Brooklyn, has a new short film called "The Sky is Pink."

    But researchers haven’t seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

    David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.

    And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.

    "We don’t," said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people’s fears and concerns, but "what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot" about breast cancer and the environment.

    Yet Fox tells viewers in an ominous voice that "In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell — except in one place— in the Barnett Shale."

    Lee called the claims of an increase "a classic case of the ecological fallacy" because they falsely suggest that breast cancer is linked to just one factor. In fact, diet, lifestyle and access to health care also play key roles.

    Fox responded to questions by citing a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doesn’t support his claim, and a newspaper story that Risser said is "not based on a careful statistical analysis of the data."

    When Fox was told that Texas cancer researchers said rates didn’t increase, he replied in an email that the claim of unusually high breast cancer rates was "widely reported" and said there is "more than enough evidence to warrant much deeper study."

    Another instance where fears haven’t been confirmed by science is the concern that radioactivity in drilling fluids could threaten drinking water supplies.

    Critics of fracking note the deep underground water that comes up along with gas has high levels of natural radioactivity. Since much of that water, called flowback, was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania, there was concern about public water supplies.

    But in western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority did extensive tests and didn’t find a problem in area rivers. State environmental officials said monitoring at public water supply intakes across the state showed non-detectable levels of radiation, and the two cases that showed anything were at background levels.

    Concerns about the potential problem also led to regulatory changes. An analysis by The Associated Press of data from Pennsylvania found that of the 10.1 million barrels of shale wastewater generated in the last half of 2011, about 97 percent was either recycled, sent to deep-injection wells, or sent to a treatment plant that doesn’t discharge into waterways.

    Critics of fracking also repeat claims of extreme air pollution threats, even as evidence mounts that the natural gas boom is in some ways contributing to cleaner air.

    Marcellus air pollution "will cause a massive public health crisis," claims a section of the Marcellus Shale Protest website.

    Yet data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that the shale gas boom is helping to turn many large power plants away from coal, which emits far more pollution. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed new rules to force drillers to limit releases of methane from wells and pumping stations.

    Some environmental groups now say that natural gas is having a positive effect on air quality.

    Earlier this year, the group PennFuture said gas is a much cleaner burning fuel, and it called gas-fired power plants "orders of magnitude cleaner" than coal plants.

    Marcellus Shale Protest said in response to a question about its claims that "any possible benefit in electric generation must be weighed against the direct harm from the industrial processes of gas extraction."

    One expert said there’s an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others.

    "You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them," said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.

    Lubell said the situation, which happens on both sides of a debate, is called "motivated reasoning." Rational people insist on believing things that aren’t true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said.

    Vengosh noted the problem of spinning science isn’t new, or limited to one side in the gas drilling controversy. For example, industry supporters have claimed that drilling never pollutes water wells, when state regulators have confirmed cases where it has. He says the key point is that science is slow, and research into gas drilling’s many possible effects are in the early stages, and much more work remains to be done.

    "Everyone takes what they want to see," Vengosh said, adding that he hopes that the fracking debate will become more civilized as scientists obtain more hard data.

    Click on the link below to see the video


    By Mark Perry updated | More Posts By | Author's Website
    Watch David Letterman’s two-minute rant above on the “greedy oil and gas companies of this country” who are trying “to squeeze every little last ounce of oil and gas out of previously pumped wells by injecting the substrata of our planet with highly toxic, carcinogenic chemicals which seep into the aquifer and hence into the drinking water of Americans. The Delaware Water Gap has been ruined, the Hudson Valley has been ruined, most of Pennsylvania has been ruined; Virginia, West Virginia has been ruined; Colorado has been ruined; New Mexico has been ruined. They’re poisoning our drinking water. Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re screwed.”

    Letterman starts by saying “I’m not smart enough to understand fracking.”  He should have stopped there, it was the only intelligent and truthful part of his diatribe.

    By KEVIN BEGOS, Associated Press – 7/23/2012

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — In the debate over natural gas drilling, the companies are often the ones accused of twisting the facts. But scientists say opponents sometimes mislead the public, too.

    Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.

    For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

    Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren't being confirmed by monitoring, either.

    And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don't acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.

    "The debate is becoming very emotional. And basically not using science" on either side, said Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor studying groundwater contamination who has been praised and criticized by both sides.

    Shale gas drilling has attracted national attention because advances in technology have unlocked billions of dollars of gas reserves, leading to a boom in production, jobs, and profits, as well as concerns about pollution and public health. Shale is a gas-rich rock formation thousands of feet underground, and the gas is freed through a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which large volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals, are injected to break the rock apart.

    The Marcellus Shale covers large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, while the Barnett Shale is in north Texas. Many other shale deposits have been discovered.

    One of the clearest examples of a misleading claim comes from north Texas, where gas drilling began in the Barnett Shale about 10 years ago.

    Opponents of fracking say breast cancer rates have spiked exactly where intensive drilling is taking place — and nowhere else in the state. The claim is used in a letter that was sent to New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo by environmental groups and by Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of "Gasland," a film that criticizes the industry. Fox, who lives in Brooklyn, has a new short film called "The Sky is Pink."

    But researchers haven't seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

    David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.

    And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.

    "We don't," said Chandini Portteus, Komen's vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people's fears and concerns, but "what we do know is a little bit, and what we don't know is a lot" about breast cancer and the environment.

    Yet Fox tells viewers in an ominous voice that "In Texas, as throughout the United States, cancer rates fell — except in one place— in the Barnett Shale."

    Lee called the claims of an increase "a classic case of the ecological fallacy" because they falsely suggest that breast cancer is linked to just one factor. In fact, diet, lifestyle and access to health care also play key roles.

    Fox responded to questions by citing a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that doesn't support his claim, and a newspaper story that Risser said is "not based on a careful statistical analysis of the data."

    When Fox was told that Texas cancer researchers said rates didn't increase, he replied in an email that the claim of unusually high breast cancer rates was "widely reported" and said there is "more than enough evidence to warrant much deeper study."

    Another instance where fears haven't been confirmed by science is the concern that radioactivity in drilling fluids could threaten drinking water supplies.

    Critics of fracking note the deep underground water that comes up along with gas has high levels of natural radioactivity. Since much of that water, called flowback, was once being discharged into municipal sewage treatment plants and then rivers in Pennsylvania, there was concern about public water supplies.

    But in western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority did extensive tests and didn't find a problem in area rivers. State environmental officials said monitoring at public water supply intakes across the state showed non-detectable levels of radiation, and the two cases that showed anything were at background levels.

    Concerns about the potential problem also led to regulatory changes. An analysis by The Associated Press of data from Pennsylvania found that of the 10.1 million barrels of shale wastewater generated in the last half of 2011, about 97 percent was either recycled, sent to deep-injection wells, or sent to a treatment plant that doesn't discharge into waterways.

    Critics of fracking also repeat claims of extreme air pollution threats, even as evidence mounts that the natural gas boom is in some ways contributing to cleaner air.

    Marcellus air pollution "will cause a massive public health crisis," claims a section of the Marcellus Shale Protest website.

    Yet data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that the shale gas boom is helping to turn many large power plants away from coal, which emits far more pollution. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency passed new rules to force drillers to limit releases of methane from wells and pumping stations.

    Some environmental groups now say that natural gas is having a positive effect on air quality.

    Earlier this year, the group PennFuture said gas is a much cleaner burning fuel, and it called gas-fired power plants "orders of magnitude cleaner" than coal plants.

    Marcellus Shale Protest said in response to a question about its claims that "any possible benefit in electric generation must be weighed against the direct harm from the industrial processes of gas extraction."

    One expert said there's an actual psychological process at work that sometimes blinds people to science, on the fracking debate and many others.

    "You can literally put facts in front of people, and they will just ignore them," said Mark Lubell, the director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.

    Lubell said the situation, which happens on both sides of a debate, is called "motivated reasoning." Rational people insist on believing things that aren't true, in part because of feedback from other people who share their views, he said.

    Vengosh noted the problem of spinning science isn't new, or limited to one side in the gas drilling controversy. For example, industry supporters have claimed that drilling never pollutes water wells, when state regulators have confirmed cases where it has. He says the key point is that science is slow, and research into gas drilling's many possible effects are in the early stages, and much more work remains to be done.

    "Everyone takes what they want to see," Vengosh said, adding that he hopes that the fracking debate will become more civilized as scientists obtain more hard data.

    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.

    A very local story with statewide implications. Seems wise to look for the solutions together rather than simply shutdown what may be the best opportunity for upstate NY in decades based on the specious arguments of a few well supported( The Park Foundation) very vocal and blustery anti drilling opponents.JLCpulse

    By Anne Willard in The River Reporter

    July 18, 2012 —

    A virtually unprecedented crowd of over 75 people jostled into the tiny, sweltering Town of Delaware Town Hall on Wednesday night in the expectation of hearing some talk about a resolution passed, apparently on the spur of the moment, during the public comment period of the last regular town meeting. The resolution supports residents disposing of their mineral rights as they wish, and is viewed by many as being an open invitation to gas drilling within the town's borders.

    It wasn’t specifically listed on the agenda—the council sprinted through that in less than half an hour—but when the Council Comment item was reached, town superintendent Ed Sykes announced that town residents Stephan Lundgren, his challenger in the last election, and Zeke and Ginny Boyle had come to him with a proposal to form a commission on gas drilling, similar to that formed last year in Cochecton. The commission would allow citizens on both sides of the issue to come together and discuss the pros and cons in a thoughtful way.

    The proposal was a reaction to the resolution, which fracking opponents deem precipitate and ill-considered. Indeed, according to a comment made later in the evening, council member John Gain, absent on vacation Wednesday, had commented at a meeting convened earlier in the month to consider the purchase of a truck, that he regretted his "yes" vote on the resolution as having been too hasty.

    Lundgren said in describing his reasons for proposing the commission, “It’s very clear that the town board meetings and the public comment period are not the best and most appropriate venue for the entire town discussing in a fair, and impartial, and thorough way such a controversial and important issue… The public comment period does not allow all the stakeholders in the town to express their thoughts and feelings on the issue.”

    According to Sykes, he, council member Cindy Herbert and council member Hal Roeder (absent Wednesday on family business) would all be open to such a proposal. He had been unable to reach John Gain for comment. The fifth member, Al Steppich, said he didn’t see anything to be gained by it.

    Though a majority of the council appeared to favor the proposal, the ensuing public discussion veered ironically into opposition by some fracking opponents, who felt it didn’t go far enough. They argued that fracking is the town’s most important business, and the matter should be handled in the regular town meetings, not by a commission. After a brief period of increasingly heated discussion, in which individuals on both sides of the issue tried to calm things down, Sykes restored order by insisting that only those who had signed up to comment speak.

    Thomas Kappner argued that a commission is not enough; there should also be a moratorium while the issue is examined further. Describing the resolution as an example of Orwellian double speak, he said, “That resolution manages to undermine the property rights of the vast majority of the town’s residents in the name of property rights.”

    Several young women stood up to speak about their concerns for their children and families, including Jen Watts, who broke down in tears at the end of her plea to the council to reconsider their stand on gas drilling, and Nyssa Calkin, who said she had turned down a job offer on Maui because this is her paradise. The women pointed out that they and families like theirs would probably move away, or decide not to move in, because of the town’s policies on fracking.

    Among the few voices speaking on the other side of the issue was farmer Bill Graby, who represented gas drilling as the face of progress, and asked the crowd whether they would have supported the railroad or Route 97 when those first came through the area. Noel van Swol of the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners Association, who congratulated the board on its courage, cited a long list of towns that had passed similar resolutions and described those responsible for such resolutions as people who “had paid their taxes and are not trust-fund babies,” a phrase to which the crowd responded with laughter and cries of “come on.”

    By the end of the meeting, most of the comments had come round to an agreement with the basic idea first voiced by Lundgren: the importance of creating a venue for a civil and scientific dialogue about the pros and cons of drilling. The last word came from Highway Superintendent William Eschenberg: “I have stood here, and I have listened, and I have listened to the antis, and to the pros… what are you trying to do? Destroy [the town] among yourselves? People have to stop the crap and work together on this… find a happy medium and work together. That’s what it’s all about.”

    The council took no action on the proposal before adjourning.


    The most underreported recent environmental story has been the dramatic decline in energy-related carbon emissions — nearly back to mid-1990s levels, and falling.

    Maybe it's because that story just doesn't fit the left's mantra that traditional energy sources are destroying the environment.

    The U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) June energy report says that energy-related carbon dioxide fell to 5,473 million metric tons (MMT) in 2011.

    That's down from a high of 6,020 MMT in 2007, and only a little above 1995's level of 5,314 MMT.

    Better yet, emissions in the first quarter of 2012 fell at an even faster rate — down 7.5% from the first quarter of 2011 and 8.5% from the same time in 2010. If the rest of 2012 follows its first-quarter trend, we may see total energy-related carbon dioxide emissions drop to early-1990s levels.

    That's a very positive environmental story, and yet you probably haven't heard a word about it. Especially from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which couldn't keep tyrannizing the states if the truth got out — and now that tyranny has the blessing of a federal appeals court.

    A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently rejected arguments by several states and industry groups that the EPA was overstepping its authority and using strong-arm tactics to regulate greenhouse gasses.

    As we learned from former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's comment about a crisis being a terrible thing to waste, the heavy hand of government regulation can get a lot heavier if it can claim it's addressing a crisis. And highlighting a huge decline is energy-related carbon dioxide emissions doesn't fit the crisis scenario.

    So why the decline? It would be hard to credit either political party. As EIA figures show, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions had been rising steadily for decades — through both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses. They were rising in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was president, and continued to rise when George W. Bush was in office.

    However, emissions began to fall after 2007, when Barack Obama was only a second-year senator — so he doesn't get the credit.

    The most likely explanation for the decline is the shale gas revolution, made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

    Increasingly, power plants are turning to natural gas because it has become abundant, and therefore cheap. And though technology is improving our ability to reduce emissions from coal usage, natural gas is still a much cleaner source.

    Indeed, natural gas has just passed an important milestone. As noted by John Hanger, energy expert and former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: "As of April, gas tied coal at 32% of the electric power generation market, nearly ending coal's 100-year reign on top of electricity markets."

    There are other factors, of course. For one, a slow economy tends to use less energy, especially oil. And despite President Obama's two — or is it three — "summers of recovery," this economy is going nowhere fast.

    The economic slowdown appears to be causing a gradual decline in petroleum-related carbon dioxide emissions, which also peaked in 2007 and then began to fall, albeit at a slower pace than the total emissions decline.

    Even so, all facets of the energy industry have been working to reduce carbon emissions, and those efforts are beginning to pay off.

    The refining industry, for example, reports that between 1990 and 2008 it spent $112 billion — and $20 billion in 2010 alone — to get emissions in compliance with regulations. As a result, the industry has reduced sulfur levels in gasoline by 90% since 2004 and a similar reduction in diesel since 2005.

    That task is made more difficult when refiners have to rely on upgrading existing plants to meet new federal regulations rather than building new ones, leading several northeast refineries to shut down recently.

    The reason for the lack of new refineries is the EPA refused to grant any new building permits.

    The good news, according to the Associated Press, is that the EPA has just granted "final permit approval" to three Native American tribes in North Dakota to build a new refinery — the first permit in the lower 48 states in 41 years. It's a start, but only a start.

    So energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are way down, and it's mostly because of private sector innovations in energy production. It's a huge success story; just don't expect the EPA, or the media, to be telling it.

    • Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas.

    July 16, 2012  By: Robert Magyar in Examiner.com

    This past Friday, Nationwide Insurance issued a release stating, “Nationwide's personal and commercial lines insurance policies were not designed to provide coverage for any fracking-related risks.” The release further stated, “From an underwriting standpoint, we do not have a comfort level with the unique risks associated with the fracking process to provide coverage at a reasonable price."

    While shale gas industry front groups immediately downplayed the Nationwide release, the full implications of the company’s ongoing policy regarding hydraulic fracking might become significant for its policy holders in Pennsylvania and nearby New York State and Ohio, all current hot spots for the drilling industry.

    According to the company’s web site, Nationwide is the number one U.S. insurance company in underwriting farming property and second in writing homeowner policies in Ohio, the shale gas industry’s new drilling hotspot. Its corporate headquarters is located in Columbus, Ohio, not far from the recent increased drilling activity in the Ohio Utica wet shale gas region. It ranks 5th in the entire country for homeowner’s insurance and is a major insurer in Pennsylvania. Its public announcement on fracking comes within weeks of yet another drilling boom by the industry, this time in eastern Ohio.

    Nationwide Insurance has long been a provider of record in the farmers’ insurance segment of the country. According to the International Risk Management Institute, Inc. (IRMI), “These policies, sometimes referred to as farm insurance, provide homeowners, commercial property, and commercial liability coverage. The unique combination of commercial and personal coverage is necessary because it is typical for farms to have both residential and commercial characteristics. Coverage can apply to farms or ranches. These types of policies typically pertain to family and individually operated farms, not large commercial or corporate farming operations.”

    Its a safe bet to say the vast majority of Pennsylvania Marcellus shale gas leases have been written on lands comprised of small farming properties.

    Nationwide actually began as the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation in 1925 given its roots in the greater northeast farming communities. It is often a member of many local state farm bureaus. Its been well positioned for decades to fully understand risk mitigation in this market segment.

    Nationwide recently acquired Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company which will become part of Nationwide’s property and casualty independent agency business unit under the Harleysville brand. In addition, Harleysville’s current headquarters in Harleysville, PA, will serve as an integral part of the combined company’s national, independent agency-based platform with Michael Browne, the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Harleysville, remaining as Nationwide’s head of this new business. This further defines Nationwide’s market share in Pennsylvania, the vast amount which is covered by the Marcellus shale formation.

    The company’s release turns out to be yet another surprise to Pennsylvania Marcellus land owners already baffled by the drilling industry’s quick shift from “dry shale gas” to “wet oil infused shale” drilling activities. It comes on top of the confusion of who in the state does enjoy or is shut out of Pennsylvania Act 13 Impact fees. Nationwide’s release also comes at a time when industry leader Chesapeake Energy is under Department of Justice investigation for possible price fixing of land leases with EnCana Corporation of Canada.

    According to the Associated Press’ Mary Esch, Simon Lomax, the research director for Energy In Depth, a known oil and gas industry front group, said insurers don't sell products specific to individual steps of the oil and gas development process. "But practical implications aside, the fact that the company would send out a statement this reckless, and this uninformed, should tell us a lot,”

    However Lomax's statement fails to take into account the thousands of Nationwide customers who may have purchased farm and homeowners insurance perhaps unaware of the company’s position and related policy disclosures on fracking when they may have signed land lease royalty agreements with shale gas companies. The drillers themselves may or may have not disclosed such prohibitions of a major insurer to the potential lessor however most likley they were and remain under no legal obligation to do so.

    Or that a major shale industry front group would characterize Nationwide Insurance, a multi-billion dollar insurer of record since 1925 as, “reckless” or "uninformed". Given the vast and complex federal and state regulations which governs the insurance industry, Nationwide is most likely one of the more conservative firms with an army of analysts, acturaries and lawyers all highly skilled in risk management and mitigation. Such skill sets speak to their ability to have survived and prospered for the better part of 90 years.

    Typical of the shale gas industry’s highly defensive position, Lomax issued the strange additional personal statement, "For starters, it tells me that I won't be buying home and car insurance from this company."

    For 2011, Nationwide lost an estimated $200 million in operating profit due to severe weather related damage claims. Yet it remains in superior financial shape with billions in proven net assets, something a good number of companies comprising the shale gas industry are currently struggling to prove to the investment community.

    No doubt Nationwide's position on the risks of hydraulic fracking will be closely watched by other insurance majors. At a time when many insurers are facing increased payouts due to weather related damage, it will interesting to watch how the industry evolves on the fracking risk mitigation issue.

    Despite the ongoing claims anything and everything shale gas is all good by the industry, month over month, the evidence seems to be continuing to stack up to the contrary.

    Disclaimer: The writer holds no investments in any U.S. securities in any company involved in shale gas development and is not a member of any enviromental group or any anti-fracking group. In addition, the writer does not have any financial arrangements with any entity or individual listed in this article.

    To see Nationwide's statement, go to: http://www.nationwide.com/newsroom/071312-FrackingStatement.jsp

    By Jim Provance / Block News Alliance  in Post Gazzette.com

    CINCINNATI -- President Barack Obama said at a campaign event Monday that the nation should "welcome" the natural gas exploration boom and hydraulic fracturing technology as part of the answer to making the United States less dependent on foreign oil.

    "Natural gas actually burns cleaner than some other fossil fuels," the Democratic incumbent said in reply to an audience question. "It's an ideal energy source that we potentially could use for the next 100 years.

    "So I want to encourage natural gas production. The key is to make sure that we do it safely and in a way that is environmentally sound."

    The practice popularly called "fracking," regionally concentrated so far in eastern Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania, involves ground injections of chemically treated fluids at high pressure to fracture shale deposits and free oil and natural gas trapped inside.

    "There are a lot of folks right now who are engaging in hydraulic fracturing who are doing it safely," Mr. Obama said. "The problem is that we haven't established clear guidelines of how to do it safely and to inform the public, so that neighbors know what's going on. ... Look, we are going to work with industry to establish best practices. We are going to invest in the basic research and science to make sure this is done safely and in a way that protects the public health.

    "For responsible companies, they should be able to operate and make a profit, and we will all benefit and put people back to work," he said. "But if it's an irresponsible company that's not doing the right thing, we're going to hold you to account."

    In his campaign speech in a central Cincinnati neighborhood, Mr. Obama contended that his policies would better serve 98 percent of Americans, while the tax cuts, budget reductions and regulation eliminations championed by his presumed Republican rival, Mitt Romney, would mainly benefit the rich.

    Taking microphone in hand in a sometimes-lighthearted town hall event before roughly 1,600 people in and outside the Cincinnati Music Hall, Mr. Obama fielded questions ranging from gas-fracking and job creation to his favorite Girl Scouts cookies -- thin mints.

    Mr. Obama has called upon Congress to extend tax cuts for the middle class enacted in the George W. Bush era. But he wants reductions affecting families with annual incomes above $250,000 to expire as scheduled at the end of this year.

    Mr. Romney has countered that the Obama plan would raise taxes on small businesses and discourage job creation. The former Massachusetts governor has urged not only permanent renewal of all the tax cuts but also further reductions -- a stance that Mr. Obama said had helped create the nation's current economic woes.

    He also kept up his criticism that Mr. Romney's proposals encourage overseas outsourcing of American jobs, while never specifically citing Bain Capital, the private equity firm Mr. Romney once headed, which has been accused of sending jobs abroad as part of its mission to turn around failing firms.

    "Today, we have [a study by] nonpartisan economists that says Governor Romney's economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs," Mr. Obama said. "There's only one problem:. The jobs wouldn't be in America; they'd be in other countries, by eliminating taxes on corporations' foreign income. ...

    "Now, this shouldn't be a surprise because Governor Romney's experience has been in investing in corporate pioneers of the business of outsourcing. I want everybody to understand, Ohio: I've got a different theory. ... I want to give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Ohio."

    Get drilling rules right By BRIAN MCMAHON in NYPost

    Gov. Cuomo and New York’s environmental regulators should soon issue final regulations on shale-gas development in the Southern Tier. Here’s hoping they do so with force and precision — because even a hint of uncertainty could badly undermine prospects for natural-gas-related economic growth.

    Without question, gas drilling promises significant economic benefits. States that have allowed such drilling — including Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — have seen bursts of prosperity.

    But reports on Cuomo’s planned policies leave room for doubt that New York will share in that bounty.

    Notably, a New York Times piece suggests that the state Department of Environmental Conservation will at first issue only 50 permits in five Southern Tier counties, and only in locations that support drilling.

    This raises three important questions — which Cuomo & Co. should not leave unanswered:

    1) Is this just a first step, a toe-in-the-water strategy to show that shale-gas development can be done safely so it can be expanded in the future? Or is it meant to be the first and last word, with no more permits to be issued anytime soon?

    If the former, the governor should clearly say so. That would give the industry certainty that an investment now could lead to more approvals later. If the industry thinks that New York will never issue more than a handful of drilling permits, companies will likely just look to keep investing in other states.

    2) How will New York determine what amounts to “local support”?

    Requiring the local legislative body to adopt some resolution would give the industry little comfort. After all, those positions could flip if the makeup of local governing councils changes.

    Huge corporations may have resources to operate in such an uncertain environment. But companies that must raise capital to invest in shale-gas development are unlikely to do so without predictability.

    For this reason, the state DEC should determine “local support” using clear state-level criteria that won’t change over time.

    3) Can New York justify excluding from new shale-gas drilling opportunities several Southern Tier counties where oil and gas drilling have occurred for more than 100 years?

    The state’s draft guidelines already put hundreds of square miles of watershed off-limits to drilling. Beyond specific restricted areas, however, New York should issue permits under clear safeguards for exploration.

    And development should be allowed anywhere outside the restricted areas where industry shows the state DEC, through the permitting process, that it can comply with the stringent standards.

    Reaping the long-term benefits of shale-gas drilling will require industry to operate under strict guidelines to ensure environmental safety and public confidence. But it will also require the state to offer industry certainty and predictability — that New York really is committed to long-term growth.

    Brian McMahon is executive director of the New York State Economic Development Council.

    By at July 14, 2012 | 12:45 am | in WSJ

    REVIEW & OUTLOOK:: The Shale Gas Secret – WSJ

    ‘Whoever owns the soil, it’s theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.” So goes the ancient common-law principle. Today, however, almost no major country recognizes full subsurface private property rights, except for the United States.

    We mention this because that blessing of American jurisprudence helps explain one of the few bright patches in the Obama economy—the booming production of shale gas and, increasingly, oil. The U.S. ranked 159th in GDP growth last year. But in natural gas production, it’s now No. 1.

    How did that happen? Partly it’s the luck of geology, though plenty of other countries have abundant shale resources. Partly, too, it’s American technological leadership in developing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling. But those techniques are now widely understood the world over.

    What has given the U.S. its edge is that the early development risks were largely borne by small-time entrepreneurs, drilling a lot of dry holes on private land. These “wildcat” developers were gradually able to buy up oil, gas and mineral leases from private owners while gathering enough geological data to bring in commercial producers.

    Take Texas’s Barnett Shale, a particularly tight rock formation that had been eluding speculators for years. Houston-based Mitchell Energy & Development Corp. spent the 1980s refining horizontal drilling techniques, and by 1996 it was producing Barnett shale gas.

    Jason Dvorin, a partner in the Dallas-based oil and gas leasing and exploration firm Dvorin LLC, recounts that when his father Sanford heard of Mitchell’s success, he decided to go all-in, having also spent years chasing Barnett shale. In 1997, father and son began buying individual leaseholds for mineral, oil and gas rights at $25-$50 an acre. By the time they sold their productive leases at the end of 2007, Mr. Dvorin recalls, they were going for as much as $30,000 per acre. “Even today, in a depressed market, operators are still paying $1,500 an acre.”

    Meantime, some of the property owners who leased their mineral rights to companies like Dvorin have received royalty checks, typically worth at least 12.5% of production value. That’s encouraged further leasing and exploration, generated popular momentum for fracking, and brought development to previously depressed regions such as western Pennsylvania and the Bakken area of North Dakota.

    Now compare this to Europe, which sits on an estimated 639 trillion cubic feet of shale gas yet remains heavily dependent on Russian imports. The governments of France and Bulgaria have banned fracking on dubious safety grounds, with nary any pushback from their publics. That might not be the case if French farmers, for example, were able to profit from the riches underneath their terroir.

    Countries such as Poland and Great Britain are willing to develop their shale potential. Yet in both places the absence of private mineral rights has delayed exploration and production.

    In 2008, U.K.-based Cuadrilla Resources obtained a license to explore underneath some 297,000 acres of Lancashire countryside. It has since been completing its tests, negotiating surface-use agreements with landowners, and wading through the planning, health and safety approvals it needs before it can finally apply for a license to produce and commercialize the gas. Those final negotiations will take at least a year, once they commence in mid-2013.

    As for Poland, Exxon Mobil recently abandoned a large regional concession there when its two test wells didn’t meet expectations. For a company of Exxon’s size, it may not be profitable to spend time drilling a lot of dry wells in Poland when it can focus on more established and “de-risked” prospects elsewhere. But smaller developers might be willing to take risks and explore the geology a little more thoroughly—if only they could gain private title to the resources.

    In time, perhaps even the French will recognize their lost opportunity and lift their ban on fracking. But the deeper lesson is that this is a revolution that came about not through government planning or foresight, but through a combination of individual risk-taking and private property. Europeans could benefit by doing more to broaden the latitude for both.

    via Review & Outlook: The Shale Gas Secret – WSJ.com.

    WLF Legal Backgrounder-Misinformation Campaign Targets Hydraulic Fracturing- By Steve Everley
    July 13, 2012 (Vol. 27 No. 13)

    "What's in a name?" asked Juliet of her dear, sweet Romeo. It was a fitting question, as the eternal conflict between the Montagues and Capulets stemmed not from any real or qualitative differences, but rather from simple family tradition. Tensions borne of simple misperceptions can and often do eventually subside, but traditions have much stronger staying power, and do not typically end with the passage of time or the injection of facts.

    Perhaps those of us who are interested in oil and gas development -- supportive or opposed -- should review our old high school literature exams.

    It's all in a name, really: Opponents have latched on to a harsh-sounding name -- "fracking," a percussive, abbreviated form of "hydraulic fracturing" -- and used it to fuel public opposition to the exploration of American energy resources.

    A closer look at the record, though, suggests that impacts from "fracking" are rarely based on scientific findings or even on basic facts. Yet opponents have effectively driven their own un-reality into public discourse, saturating the media with so many falsehoods that reporters mischaracterize the process now as a matter of AP-style. Incentivized by the prospect of a catchy headline, reporters ascribe "fracking" to elements of oil and gas development far removed from the actual process.

    The result? Despite clear scientific evidence showing otherwise, a still small (but growing) segment of the American public believes the completion of a well via the fracturing process -- something performed safely and successfully since the Truman administration -- is all of a sudden a serious threat to the environment. And unfortunately, a deliberate and well-funded misinformation campaign continues to perpetuate such fears -- not in an attempt to protect the environment, but rather to feed an opposition campaign driven by ideology.

    What Is HF?

    It is useful to define carefully and accurately what hydraulic fracturing actually is -- and, equally important, what it isn't. The process is what's known as a "well stimulation" or "well completion" procedure (contrary to what we've all read from the media, it is not a "drilling technique") used to enhance the flow of hydrocarbons from a well. After a well has been drilled, cased, and undergone numerous tests to ensure its structural and compositional integrity, the drilling equipment leaves the site. Next, trucks, men and equipment arrive to perform the fracturing.

    The process itself involves pumping a fluid mixture into the well bore and down to the "target formation," which is the area from which hydrocarbons will be produced. This fluid consists of about 99.5 percent water and sand, along with a few additives to provide lubrication and prevent bacteria growth. The target formation is typically a mile or two below the surface, separated from groundwater supplies by multiple layers of impermeable rock. The fluid is pumped at a pressure high enough to crack -- or "fracture" -- the rock. The sand keeps the fractures from closing when the fluid is pumped back to the surface, and the fractures themselves allow for previously trapped oil or natural gas to flow into the well bore and back to the surface.

    After completion -- for each well, the procedure typically takes between two and five days -- trucks and other equipment leave the site, and a valve is installed to manage the rate at which hydrocarbons flow (a "Christmas tree," in industry parlance). In the case of natural gas, the gas is then routed to a processing plant, after which it is connected to pipeline infrastructure and delivered to consumers.

    Today, hydraulic fracturing is applied to virtually all onshore wells drilled in the United States -- which means the technology is responsible for virtually all onshore natural gas production.

    Frac v. Frack.

    Of course, if you're in the oil and gas industry -- or know anything about it -- you'll know that hydraulic fracturing is nothing new. First used in southwest Kansas in 1947, fracturing has been safely applied more than 1.2 million times over the past 65 years (its first application in Canada was in the Cardium oil field in the 1950s). In fact, the word "frac" has been a well-known term in the industry for decades, and its history of safety meant that it wasn't considered any more controversial than other common terms, such as annulus, cement bond logs, or production casing.

    But then again, none of those terms sound like what Ralphie deemed the "F-dash-dash-dash word" in the movie A Christmas Story. Indeed, opponents of oil and gas development have gleefully taken the word "frack" and used it to incite fear in the public's mind. It was an easy, three-step argument: (1) The process takes place below ground and utilizes chemicals. (2) Drinking water is also found below ground. (3) Therefore, "fracking" contaminates drinking water. When your driving purpose in life is to stop oil and gas production, cleverly associating it with a word that sounds profane (starts with "f," ends in "ck") means half of your work is already done for you.

    Opponents, however, had a significant dilemma to overcome: Hydraulic fracturing has been studied extensively by regulators, scientists, and engineers, and to date there are no confirmed cases where the process has contaminated water. Why? Because the distance between groundwater supplies and the target formation is as much as two miles, a distance that is filled with multiple layers of solid, impermeable rock.

    Colorado's governor John Hickenlooper -- a petroleum geologist by training -- said it is "almost inconceivable" that hydraulic fracturing would ever contaminate groundwater. A recent University of Texas study found there was "no evidence" that fracturing had contaminated water. On two separate occasions, once in 1995 and again in 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated publicly that hydraulic fracturing doesn't contaminate groundwater, and current EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has stated four times in the past 12 months that there is no evidence linking fracturing to adverse impacts to water. Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones has said that you have a better chance of hitting the moon with a Roman candle than contaminating water via the fracturing process. Other state regulators have similarly affirmed that they have never seen an instance of fracturing contaminating water.

    Other parts of oil and gas development, however, have always carried small but nonetheless real risks. Wells are typically cased and cemented in a manner to prevent anything inside the well from seeping into what's outside the well, but casing failures have occurred. Similarly, there have been spills and other accidents that take place on the surface. These issues, however, are not about hydraulic fracturing, as the possibility of these incidents has been a part of so-called "conventional" oil and gas development for over a century. Put differently, these issues do not constitute new or poorly-understood risks, and managing them is essentially part of the textbook of development.

    So what's the big fuss, then? A brief history will help set the stage. Thanks to pioneering work by George Mitchell in the Barnett Shale of North Texas, the ability to extract oil and natural gas from shale became much more economical starting in the 1990s. Mitchell invested millions of dollars of his own money to perfect the combination of horizontal drilling -- whereby a well is drilled thousands of feet vertically and then turned horizontally for several thousand additional feet -- with hydraulic fracturing. Horizontal drilling was a key component of this technological marriage, not only because it allows for much greater access to target formations, but also because it greatly reduces surface impact. Production from one horizontal well, for example, can replace as many as a dozen vertical wells.

    Such technological innovation facilitated the growth of shale development across the country, and at a fairly rapid pace. In 2001, natural gas produced from shale constituted about one percent of America's total gas production. By 2010, it was already about 25 percent, a number expected to grow to nearly 50 percent in the coming decades.

    But it was also that rapid expansion -- especially into areas such as Pennsylvania -- that offered an opening to environmental groups. Preying on a population unaccustomed to large-scale oil and gas development, activists were able to make an innovative combination of their own, blending a scary, almost inappropriate-sounding word ("frack") with alleged environmental and social impacts, many of which -- like air emissions and certain forms of water contamination -- can supposedly be impacting you without you even knowing it. Uncertainty breeds fear, and a fearful public, the opposition found, is much easier to manipulate.

    Professional activists, shrewdly political in their talking points, also know that the word "fracking" elicits negative reactions in the public. As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observed: "Anti-drilling activists love using ‘fracking' as a double entendre (‘Don't frack with us') because it bears a resemblance to one of George Carlin's seven dirty words."

    And recent polling backs them up: A survey by Louisiana State University found that only 34.5 percent of respondents who heard the word "fracking" thought the process was safe, and only 38.6 percent of those who heard the word said there should be more drilling. When the respondents were given a description of the process instead of the word "fracking," however, the percentage who said the process is safe jumped by nearly ten points, and support for more drilling climbed by more than 12 points into a clear majority. Imagine that: a fact-based discussion leads to different results than one based on semantics and talking points.

    That gap in public support is also why opponents describe everything happening in oil and gas development -- from initial geological surveying to well pad preparation to pipeline construction -- as "fracking." Never mind that the impacts they cite are not due to hydraulic fracturing. Since hydraulic fracturing is one part of the process, they claim, all of the impacts can be attributed to "fracking." It's a politically convenient (and intellectually lazy) effort to scapegoat a process that opponents do not really understand, but that they know sounds destructive.


    Nothing illustrates the gap between accuracy and activism quite as well as the claim that hydraulic fracturing causes earthquakes. Recent seismic activity in Ohio, for instance, has been traced to injection wells receiving waste water from oil and gas development. A recent report by the U.S. Geological Survey also suggests injection wells could be triggering seismic activity. In an attempt to clear up any misperceptions, however, lead report author Bill Ellsworth said: "We find no evidence that fracking is related to the occurrence of earthquakes that people are feeling. We think that it's more intimately connected to the wastewater disposal." The Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior reiterated that conclusion on DOI's website. In Ohio, the state's Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said shortly after the earthquakes in his state occurred: "The seismic events are not a direct result of fracking."

    It's also important to note that injection wells are not exclusively used for oil and gas waste water, but also for waste produced from manufacturing, as well as long-term CO2 storage. Additionally, the link between injection wells and seismic activity goes back to at least the 1960s, when a deep disposal well receiving waste fluids from chemical manufacturing operations at a nearby U.S. Army arsenal triggered earthquakes in the area around Denver, Colorado.

    Such context has been almost universally ignored by the press. The Christian Science Monitor, three days after Zehringer made his statement declaring the complete opposite, decided to run a story entitled, "How fracking might have led to an Ohio earthquake." Reuters chimed in two weeks later with this headline: "After earthquakes, Ohio city questions future fracking wells." Over at MSNBC, the headline was: "Geologists say Ohio quakes directly tied to fracking." Bloomberg referenced "Fracking-Linked Earthquakes" in its coverage, ironically describing of the difference between disposal wells and hydraulic fracturing in the story itself.

    To his credit, Bill Ellsworth from the USGS actually scolded the media for their misrepresentations. "I was greatly surprised," Ellsworth said, "to see how words were being used in the press in ways that were inappropriate." The coverage was so bad that one intrepid journalist actually asked via Twitter, "Why can't the press get it straight on earthquakes and fracking?"

    Do Facts Still Matter?

    Earlier this year, the University of Texas released a report on hydraulic fracturing, which, in part, assessed the tone of media coverage. The results were not pretty. The researchers found that media coverage was "overwhelmingly negative," adding that roughly two-thirds of all stories painted a negative picture of hydraulic fracturing. Only about one-third actually referenced scientific studies, which perhaps explains why "fracking" has become such a dirty word: Facts have been largely absent from the public discussion.

    The good news, though, is that geology, engineering, and empirical research almost uniformly support the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing is safe and does not contaminate water supplies. Even in the small town of Dimock, Pa., where activists have contended for years that a local company contaminated water supplies, the U.S. EPA has released four sets of results showing that the water is safe. Opponents, predictably, continue to move the goal posts and claim EPA's testing was inadequate.

    And that, perhaps, sums up the reason why fracturing has become so controversial. Opponents will never be convinced that oil and gas development can be and is occurring safely, because their position is based on a long-established belief, not science or facts. It is a tradition for activists to oppose any process that helps bring oil and natural gas to the surface, and the environmental organizations that fund opposition efforts simply have too much at stake to admit the truth.

    Which brings us back to Verona, where families clashed simply because it was a tradition to do so, and the desire to create division blinded the families to any facts or reality.

    Sound familiar?

    The state, not local communities, will set the standards and issue permits for development. 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 is supporting clear state led regulation and permitting of natural gas development.


    The process has to start somewhere, and as was stated by DEC Commissioner Martens and now by the Governor, they will consider localities that want development for the initial round of permits. This does NOT mean any “home rule” authority prevails, or that local bans or moratoria will hold power over the state’s guidelines or permitting beyond the initial approvals and ramp up to oversee proper well development.


    The DEC and State guidelines will ultimately stand as the determinative set of guidelines for all permitting across the state, in accordance with the state 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.



    Credit Matt Richmond / WSKG
    All eyes were on the Windsor Town Board on Wednesday as they took public comments on a resolution in favor of the DEC's authority over fracking.

    Outside Wednesday’s town board meeting in Windsor, drilling advocates handed out pro-drilling stickers. About 150 people showed up and most of them put a sticker on.

    The issue on that night was Resolution 24 - the town board’s decision in May to declare support for the state, not local governments, deciding whether fracking comes to New York.

    The Town of Windsor passed its resolution on May 2, one of 30 or so passed by town boards mostly in the Southern Tier, says Binghamton lawyer Scott Kurkoski. He says they were meant as a way to counteract the spread of local drilling bans.

    Let the DEC decide

    “There’s been a movement in New York to have towns ban oil and gas drilling or pass a moratorium and many, many towns that frankly are not even in the oil and gas play have been passing these bans,” says Kurkoski.

    More than 100 local bans have been passed in New York, mostly by towns to the north of the Southern Tier which sits in the heart of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. The bans don’t represent everyone’s view, says Kurkoski.

    “These towns got to the point where they said, look, we don’t want people that are opposed passing bans to speak for us,” says Kurkoski.

    Kurkoski is the lawyer for the Joint Landowner Coalition of New York. That’s the organization circulating the resolution-in-favor. A copy of Windsor's resolution can be found here.

    He says the state has undertaken a careful study of hydrofracking over the last four years and that means towns should leave fracking decisions to the state.

    Cuomo's plan

    Still, Albany isn’t inclined to disregard local opinion entirely.

    In April, Joe Martens, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said his agency would consider local wishes when it decides on drilling permits. Governor Cuomo later confirmed that.

    That means, if a town has a ban, the DEC won’t issue permits there, at least not at first. And, on the other side, the state has not said how towns in favor of drilling would be identified. Right now, the resolutions in support of the DEC, like the one adopted by Windsor, are the only thing out there to serve that purpose.

    A flawed process

    Windsor resident Hal Smith was at Wednesday’s meeting in Windsor. He says the resolution process was flawed because of how quickly it was passed - the town never conducted a public meeting or a poll.

    “This is an extraordinary issue, this is not deciding whether to pave the ball field, that’s how it was handled except this is the most important issue that we’re going to decide in our lifetimes for this community,” says Smith.

    Legally, because it was a resolution, the town didn’t have to hold hearings.

    Also, because it was only supporting a state agency rather than explicitly supporting gas drilling, the resolution may have became less controversial. Critic Hal Smith said some members of the town board had a conflict of interest in voting for the resolution because they would personally profit from drilling.

    Town Supervisor Randy Williams, who worked for a major oil company for 32 years, is one of those boardmembers. At Wednesday’s meeting, Williams made no apologies for leasing his mineral rights to a gas company and he said the process was proper.

    “I did not feel there was a conflict with this because, as was stated earlier, Resolution 24 did not say yes you can drill or no you cannot. All it said plain and simple let the DEC make up their mind and go from there,” said Williams.

    According to Governor Cuomo, the DEC should make up their mind on the future of natural gas drilling in New York by the end of the summer.

    If this was not so serious it would be funny. Nationwide, not on your side?? A national insurance company suddenly getting a bur in their saddle over a world wide industry technology without regard for the science, actual risk and historic risk profile does not speak well for that company. JLCNY has been actively involved and searching for insurance options that will cover all landowner's with gas well/line exposure on their properties for all risks. Additionally if the contracts between the landowner and industry is written correctly, the risk responsibility falls on the gas company which makes the majority of the funds and in essence is the basis of risk. There is no reason to get overly concerned, but every reason to get a good agent working in your best interests, not that of a captive agent working for only one company like Nationwide. Keep an eye on the site we will keep you apprised of any important news. We do have insurance agencys using our site for advertizing, helping defer the costs of JLC site administration, it would be a good idea to check them out first. JLCpulse


    By MARY ESCH, Associated Press 7/12/2012

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won't cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground.

    The Columbus, Ohio-based company's personal and commercial policies "were not designed to cover" risk from the drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, Nationwide spokeswoman Nancy Smeltzer said Thursday.

    The process injects chemically treated water into wells to fracture shale thousands of feet underground and release trapped gas or oil. There are rich shale deposits in parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere.

    Health and environmental groups claim fracking can contaminate drinking water. The gas industry says it's safe if done properly. Nationwide said risks involved in fracking operations "are too great to ignore" and apply to policies of commercial contractors and landowners who lease property to gas companies.

    The Nationwide policy first came to light when an internal memo detailing underwriting guidelines was posted on websites of upstate New York anti-fracking groups and landowner coalitions seeking gas leases. Smeltzer confirmed that the memo was genuine but said it wasn't intended for public dissemination.

    The memo reads: "After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage."

    It said "prohibited risks" apply to landowners who lease land for shale gas drilling and contractors involved in fracking operations, including those who haul water to and from drill sites; pipe and lumber haulers; and operators of bulldozers, dump trucks and other vehicles used in drill site preparation.

    A spokesman for a research and outreach program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, whose members drill most of the nation's oil and gas wells, said nothing in what Nationwide said represented a change in policy for the company. Simon Lomax, the research director for Energy In Depth, said insurers don't sell products specific to individual steps of the oil and gas development process.

    "But practical implications aside, the fact that the company would send out a statement this reckless, and this uninformed, should tell us a lot," Lomax said in an emailed statement. "For starters, it tells me that I won't be buying home and car insurance from this company."

    Opponents of fracking point to some highly publicized accidents that resulted in contamination.

    In late 2010, Houston-based driller Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. settled for $4.1 million with residents of Dimock, Pa., over gas found in their water. State environmental regulators determined Cabot contaminated the aquifer underneath homes with explosive levels of methane. A Cabot spokesman said levels of contaminants found didn't pose a threat to human health or the environment.

    Jeffrey Hanneman, the Texas-based director of environmental practice at the insurance broker Aon Risk Solutions, said the Nationwide move was "really unique" and he doesn't expect it will be the beginning of a trend.

    "To date, all we've seen are some that were hesitant to write environmental coverage," Hanneman said. "But the Nationwide is sort of a broader ban on all the ancillary services related to it (fracking)."

    Hanneman noted that there haven't been any substantial claims that targeted companies other than those that own and operate the wells or the contractors who do the drilling. And even those claims have been few and far between.

    He said one factor that may be driving Nationwide's decision is that increasing publicity — much of it negative — surrounding fracking makes it possible that any damage claims would go beyond the big oil and gas companies to include the hundreds of supporting businesses such as haulers.

    Mike Elmendorf, president of the general contractors' group Associated General Contractors of New York State, said the Nationwide decision was unwelcome news for his members who do work for the gas industry and was not based on facts.

    With a record of shale gas development having been done safely, "it is hard to fathom the rationale for this decision," Elmendorf said. "It would seem Nationwide is not on job creation's side."

    Associated Press writer Rik Stevens contributed to this report.

    Posted at: 07/09/2012 10:54 PM   By: Associated Press | WHEC.com

    In the latest salvo in local battles over gas drilling, a company said Monday it's shutting down wells and turning off the free gas to landowners in a western New York town that passed a moratorium on drilling.

    Local sentiment for or against gas drilling has taken on greater significance in New York since the Cuomo administration said the state Department of Environmental Conservation will consider local ordinances when it starts granting permits for shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The agency hasn't issued new permits since it started an environmental review in 2008; the review and new regulations are expected to be completed by the end of summer.

    The New York Times quoted unnamed state officials last month as saying that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is likely to allow shale drilling only in towns that have proclaimed their support, in the five counties near the Pennsylvania state line where gas is considered to be most plentiful.

    The town of Avon, 20 miles southwest of Rochester, passed a one-year moratorium on gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing on June 28. Lenape Resources has more than 5,000 acres under lease and 16 wells in production in the town. None used the horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing that would be covered by regulations now under development.

    The company sent a letter over the weekend to landowners saying Lenape was shutting down its wells in Avon and that royalty checks and free gas provided under leases would cease. The company said the action was required under the town's moratorium and listed the town supervisor's home phone and street address for any questions.

    Town Supervisor David LeFeber said Lenape's shutdown wasn't required by the moratorium.

    "We were very careful to word our moratorium to protect existing gas wells," LeFeber said Monday. "This is only a moratorium, it's not a ban. We wanted to take some time to study the issue and put in place any things that would help make sure we protect the health, safety and well-being of our local residents."

    Lenape also has a lot of acreage under lease in the nearby town of Caledonia, where town officials are considering a similar moratorium, said attorney Michael Joy, who represents Lenape. John Holko, owner of Lenape Resources, is lobbying against the moratorium in Caledonia and other towns.

    "The town (Avon) has put a grandfathering provision in for existing wells, but the town knows full well that the terms of the provision cause Lenape to operate at a loss," Joy said. "They don't understand the need to bring new wells into production."

    More than 100 communities have enacted similar moratoriums or bans. Dozens of others have passed resolutions stating support for gas drilling.

    "Certainly John Holko's company has been aggressively trying to stop moratoriums not only in Avon but in other towns where it has land under lease," Joy said. "They just weathered through four years of DEC not allowing them to drill cost-effective wells. Now they have the town telling them they can't drill here. Lenape doesn't know where its future operations are going to stand."




    By Steve Reilly in Press and Sun Bulletin

    Town of Sanford resident Diana Vanderbilt, who favors a local moratorium on natural gas drilling, said she was surprised to learn recently that her town board had already adopted an official stance on the issue in May.

    The town's resolution, which declared a moratorium "irresponsible and premature", did not require a public hearing.

    "It was just adopted with no warning and no input," she said. "The resolution gives the impression that the whole community is for the drilling, and that's not the case."

    In the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent signals that local views on fracking may carry weight in the state's decision-making process, tensions are beginning to flare along the sharp divides within some Southern Tier municipalities.

    Since April, nine of Broome County's 16 town boards -- Barker, Binghamton, Coleville, Conklin, Kirkwood, Lisle, Maine, Sanford and Windsor -- have passed the same resolution, adopting identical statements as their official stances on hydraulic fracturing.

    The resolution expresses support for the state Department of Environmental Conservation's review of fracking, which has been ongoing since 2008, and notes that the town board members reject the idea of banning the technique before DEC finalizes its regulations.

    "We ...find pursuit of a ban or moratorium to be an irresponsible and premature misallocation of town resources ..." the resolution states. " ...We have confidence the state will develop a program that allows development of our natural gas resources to proceed in a safe, responsible, and competitive manner."

    The resolution was written and distributed to town leaders by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York after reports emerged that local opinions on natural gas drilling may be taken into account when the state begins issuing permits for wells that would be fracked.

    Since April, the resolution has been approved by more than two dozen municipalities across the Southern Tier.

    "We said, if that's where the (Cuomo) administration is going to go with this, we know that towns across the state are very supportive and would like to see the opportunities come to their towns," JLCNY attorney Scott Kurkoski said. "It just made perfect sense ...to ask these towns to sign these resolutions to basically support what's happening at the state level."

    Cuomo bolstered those sentiments in statements this week, stating that home rule -- the concept that local governments can control the issue within their borders -- will be "relevant," but not necessarily determinative, in the discussion of where drilling permits are issued.

    "Home rule is one of the basic, essential elements of our democracy," he said on Tuesday.

    However, many residents of municipalities where the resolution was passed have begun to express concerns that their voices weren't heard.

    Windsor resident Scott Clarke said he was the only resident in town hall who knew what was happening when the town board approved the resolution on May 2.

    "New York State has taken several years to examine the environmental ethics of this issue," he said. "Assessing the will of the people should be done with equal care."

    Windsor Supervisor Randy Williams said the board followed standard procedure, posting the meeting agenda on its website prior to the meeting.

    "They can cry, complain, carry on all they want about the way things were handled," Williams said. "But I would guarantee you they were handled in accordance with the law."

    Clarke said he and other residents will ask the town board at tonight's meeting to rescind the resolution and put the issue to a town-wide referendum. The meeting location has been moved from the town hall to Windsor High School.

    "This is far too important an issue to be decided by a resolution," he said. "This is the biggest issue this town has faced in decades."

    Residents of other municipalities are concerned as well.

    "If you're representing the people, the people need to weigh in," said Sanford resident Doug Vitarius.

    Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the JLCNY, noted that the resolution is not a formal law -- unlike the drilling bans and moratoria that have been approved by dozens of municipalities in the state.

    "Every one of these towns that have (passed the resolution) put out a statement, as they always do, of what was going to be in their town meeting," Fitzsimmons said. "Do I get a personal invitation when they're going to do a ban or a moratorium? No, I don't."

    The resolution reflects a "neutral" stance toward drilling, he said, and merely states that the town is accepting DEC's leadership over the issue.

    "Really all they're stating is that they don't have the ability to handle gas drilling and monitor it," Fitzsimmons said, "and they'll let the state decide."

    This is certainly not new news but it is important none the less.The process of assuring the benefit of your property rights is not a slam dunk and is by no means a passive pursuit. It seems that what most land owners feel is the law of the land, is not the law of the noisy and pushy anti drilling crowd. If you want the ability to take advantage of your property rights you need to get up out of the chair, or the fields if that is where you spend your time and visit your town board meeting. They are not the enemy in the anti gas movement (UNLESS ELECTED AS SINGLE ISSUE EXTREMISTS) they are trying to balance the community needs with the false information they are being spoon fed by the minions of the Park foundation. I would argue that this discussion is not about two sides of the drilling issue, there is only one side that has the right to use their land based on the constitution of the United States of America. There is a very vocal and well funded group of zealots focused on taking land rights away from land owners. Please do not go to the town board looking for a fight, go asking them to follow New York state law and DEC guidance on the drilling issue. The right to drill does not rest with the town board , it is a state regulatory issue and all that needs to happen is simple and DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY ONE TO "TAKE SIDES". Ask your town board to follow NY States lead on this matter and quit wasting time on maters beyond their control. JLCpulse

    By Dan Hust  June 22, 2012 in the Sullivan County Democrat
    HORTONVILLE — Delaware’s town board voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to move away from its previously-cited neutrality and towards embracing a pro-gas-drilling stance.
    The matter was not initially expected to be on the agenda. Councilman Hal Roeder had considered bringing up a resolution promoting property rights and safe gas drilling, but Supervisor Ed Sykes had tried to discourage him.
    At the end of the board meeting, several audience members began asking the board to again consider doing what several other townships in Sullivan County have done: enact a ban or moratorium on drilling activity.
    That quickly turned into a heated argument about the merits and safety of drilling amongst Roeder and attendees on both sides of the issue, ultimately resulting in Roeder making a motion on his resolution, seconded by Councilman Al Steppich.
    “People are pushing and pushing,” Roeder argued vehemently. “... All this does is reinforce our position.”
    The relatively short resolution read, “Be it hereby resolved that any landowner or entity that owns the rights to minerals within the corporate bounds of the Town of Delaware has the right to determine how they exercise and protect their mineral rights in accordance to the laws of the State of New York and to the laws of the United States of America.
    “Be it further resolved that if gas drilling does come into the Town of Delaware, that those who are involved in the process of gas drilling and those who regulate the gas drilling process see to it that the entire process of gas drilling be made in a responsible and safe manner.”
    Sykes and Councilman John Gain joined Roeder and Steppich in approving it, with Councilwoman Cindy Herbert abstaining.
    “I’d like to think about it a little more,” Herbert said, explaining that the process seemed too fast.
    With many of the passionate arguments already made in the minutes prior, the passage of the resolution only garnered a smattering of public comment afterwards, though it was just as passionate.
    “I’m going to hold you guys responsible when something happens to my health,” warned Callicoon businesswoman Rosie DeCristofaro, her finger pointing at the board – which Roeder deemed “bullcrap.”

    Glenn Coin / The Post-Standard    Posted:  07/03/2012 7:27 AM
    When Joseph Martens was president of the Open Space Institute in 2010, he said the state’s next top environmental regulator would have the “monumental” decision of whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in New York.

    Today, Martens is that regulator, and that monumental decision is his. Appointed commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation last year, Martens must now make the call on one of the most controversial environmental issues New York has ever faced.

    It’s a difficult position for anybody, but particularly for a man who spent more than a decade as an environmentalist. Martens, 56, was president for 12 years of the Open Space Institute, where he helped preserve 86,000 acres of wilderness and other open land in New York. When he was named by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to run the DEC, Environmental Advocates of New York called Martens a “well-respected environmental leader” and a Citizens Campaign for the Environment spokeswoman said the group was “delighted he will lead the department.”

    Martens, who also served in the Adirondack Park Agency and Gov. Mario Cuomo’s energy and environment office, says he cares deeply about the environment, but that he’s also a pragmatist. Any decision on hydrofracking, he said, will be thoughtful, measured and protective of the environment he loves.

    “If this activity goes forward, I want it to be as environmentally protective as it can be,” Martens said during a recent interview in the DEC building in Albany overlooking the Hudson River. “My professional life and my personal life have been dedicated to trying to protect special places.”

    Neil Murphy, president of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said he’s known and worked with Martens for about eight years.

    “Just knowing Joe, he likely is in angst over making this recommendation,” Murphy said. “He’s between a rock and a hard place.”

    Friends and colleagues who know Martens well say he’s the perfect person to make the call on hydrofracking.

    “I can’t think of anyone else in the New York conservation firmament I would rather have making this decision than Joe,” said Kim Elliman, who hired Martens at the Open Space Institute more than 20 years ago and worked side-by-side with him until Martens became DEC commissioner. “He’s a deep-rooted environmentalist but he’s not going to be an ideologue. He’s going to be pragmatic.”

    Robert Quinn, assistant director of the ESF College Foundation and a Martens friend for 30 years, recalled a time in the early 1990s when Martens successfully navigated a solution to a controversial issue in the Tug Hill. Quinn, who worked for the Tug Hill Commission, said many state agencies had opposed a proposed law that would require them to meet environmental protection standards set by local governments. It appeared that Gov. Mario Cuomo would veto the legislation, Quinn recalled.

    Martens, who was working in Cuomo’s environmental office, stepped in.

    “Joe interceded and said this is important to the region, that this is an area where home rule is very important,” Quinn recalled. “Joe recommended that the governor sign this legislation — and he did.”

    Martens grew up in Connecticut and earned his bachelor’s at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He earned a master’s in resource economics at ESF in 1981, and has been in New York ever since.

    Martens said conservation of resources comes naturally.

    “My father was a very practical person and he was always turning lights out and trying to squeeze as much out of a gallon of gas in a car as he possibly could,” Martens recalled. “That’s always kind of been my philosophy in life: You do things that have minimal impact on the environment.”

    Every form of energy has impacts, Martens said, whether it’s natural gas or the wood with which he heats his own house. He concedes that hydrofracking, if it’s approved, will have impacts.

    “Inevitably there will be problems. It’s a mechanical activity,” he said. “The question is ‘Are we comfortable at (that) point in time whenever it may be that we may mitigate the adverse impacts?’”

    Martens said he knew coming into DEC he’d be busy with hydrofracking. He estimates it takes up a quarter to half of his time.

    “It’s a good chunk because there’s 15 other issues that are big and have major statewide impacts that we have to deal with every day,” he said. “We deal with fires, we deal with lost hikers in the Adirondacks, we monitor biotoxins in Long Island Sound. We close shell-fishing beds.”

    After the DEC released a 1,500-page environmental report last year, it received more than 74,000 public comments. Martens said DEC officials continue to review those comments and prepare responses for the final version of the report.

    Hydrofracking is a controversial drilling technique that shoots millions of gallons of water and chemicals into deep rock formations to release natural gas. Opponents say the process poisons drinking water and turns rural communities into industrial zones. Proponents say hydrofracking creates jobs, raises tax revenues and helps the United States break its dependence on foreign energy.

    Martens is one of the rare people who can see and balance both sides, said Al Caccese, executive director of Audubon New York and someone who has known Martens for 25 years.

    “I don’t know anyone who is as balanced as he is,” Caccese said. “He recognizes that you don’t have to be anti-economic development to be a conservationist, and you don’t have to be anti-conservationist to allow businesses to thrive.”

    Audubon, in conjunction with a labor and construction group, gave Martens a “Sound Guardian” award in April for helping to create a $2.4 billion project to clean up Flushing Bay in Long Island Sound.

    Martens said he hasn’t made up his mind yet on hydrofracking. When asked when he will, he pauses.

    “This is the question I dance around, and I hate dancing around any questions. I like to be direct,” he said. “I’ve said months, and I said months months ago, but we’re getting closer.”

    Martens knows that no matter what he decides, or when he decides it, he will be criticized. He said his environmental background will influence, but not dictate, his ultimate decision on hydrofracking.

    “We’re all influenced by where we come from and our personal philosophies, and it’s impossible to avoid,” Martens said. “What I have to do is make sure I’m being respectful of the law and the obligations we have as a department, and I hope that my personal philosophies only improve the outcome here.”

    In the end, the decision on hydrofracking will define Martens’ tenure at DEC as nothing else will, Elliman said.

    “He’s known that since day one,” Elliman said. “His legacy is going to be about fracking.”

    Dear Friends, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,

    Attached below please find the JLCNY’s statement clarifying our interpretation of the potential final SGEIS and plan for permitting.
    Please share this with your fellow supporters.
    The three main bullets in this memo simply reinforce our must haves within the statewide guidelines. They represent our interpretation of the potential plan to finalize the SGEIS and begin development in NYS. These principles have been reflected in the draft SGEIS and represent what we have relayed to the State leaders and to communities throughout the entire shale region. We have provided guidance across the entire region, to 13 counties and to all levels of local government, about the problems with the bans and moratoriums and supplied all of our coalition members the information to combat them and support a positive resolution that primarily recognizes the state DEC as the proper, consistent authority.
    As we prominently declared in Albany two months ago through our Declaration of Rights, all landowners deserve the right to develop their land under consistent, fairly executed, statewide regulations that are NOT subject to local bans or moratoriums. This is why we are putting up this statement of clarity on our website tonight for all landowners to see, and it reflects the three pillars we will continue to fight for as a unified coalition representing all landowners throughout New York.
    1)  The state, not local communities, will remain in control of setting standards for development.  As we've said in the past, and as has been reinforced in many local resolutions, municipalities lack the expertise and resources to conduct the comprehensive regulatory supervision that natural gas development necessitates. 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 oversee responsible state leadership and common standards for regulation and permitting of natural gas development.
    2)  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.
    3)  The DEC will treat all permits equally, and in accordance with the law. While the Governor may focus initial permitting to those areas that have vocalized their support, doing so does not mean state agencies will stifle or prohibit permitting where the law allows resource development.
    If there are any questions or concerns please feel free to contact the JLCNY at your convenience. In the mean time have a happy and safe Independence Day Holiday.
    Warm Regards,
    Dan Fitzsimmons, President
    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.
    NOTICE, Same as attachment:


    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.
    By Joe Carroll - Jun 27, 2012 12:00 AM ET

    Print QUEUEQ..Encana Corp. (ECA), which is probing allegations it colluded to rig land auctions in Michigan, has been expanding in the state’s burgeoning shale-exploration region after one-time rival Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) decided to quit the area.
    Encana paid about $185 an acre for the rights to drill oil and natural-gas wells on 2,156 acres (873 hectares) at an auction last month by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 88 percent less than the average paid two years ago in the area. The Calgary-based company said on June 25 that it began an internal review of e-mails from 2010 between Encana and Chesapeake executives concerning bidding strategies for Michigan drilling rights.
    Chesapeake, which last week replaced more than half its directors and stripped Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon of the chairman’s role amid a probe of his personal financial transactions, didn’t participate in last month’s lease sale, state records showed. Instead, the Oklahoma City-based company is focusing on oilfields in Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma that show more promise, said Tim Rezvan, an New York-based analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc.
    “It was the combination of disappointing well results and falling commodity prices that made the whole play uneconomic from Chesapeake’s standpoint,” James Sullivan, an analyst at Alembic Global Advisors in New York, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Somebody else may look at it as a place where they can get in at a low enough price to make a return on it.”
    Drilling Rights
    Encana, Canada’s largest gas producer, and U.S. competitors such as Chesapeake and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) began amassing drilling rights four years ago in a geologic formation known as the Collingwood Shale that lies beneath more than a dozen counties in northern Michigan.
    Chesapeake, which was responsible for major U.S. onshore discoveries such as the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana and the Utica Shale in Ohio, spent $400 million to create a presence in Michigan before deciding to leave.
    The Collingwood Shale is part of the Michigan Basin that stretches beneath five states and parts of Canada. The U.S. section of the basin contains an estimated 1.2 billion barrels of crude and 11 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
    Plunging Fees

    The fees that energy explorers have paid to win drilling rights in the Collingwood Shale plunged 97 percent in the past two years amid a combination of high well costs, poorer-than- expected production and tumbling gas prices, Rezvan said. The average per-acre bonus paid at the May 8 Michigan auction was $45, state records showed. That compared to $1,500 an acre at the May 2010 sale, according to Investment Technology Group Inc. (ITG) in Calgary.
    “The shale in northern Michigan was a concept that just didn’t play out,” Rezvan said in a telephone interview yesterday.
    Jay Averill, an Encana spokesman, declined to comment for this story. Jeff Wojahn, president of Encana’s U.S. division, said during a June 21 conference call that the company has had “positive drilling results” in Michigan and plans to drill five to seven new wells there this year.
    E-Mail Probe

    Chesapeake, the largest U.S. gas producer until Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) surpassed it with the 2010 acquisition of XTO Energy, has put its 450,000 acres of Michigan leases up for sale as part of a plan to avoid a cash crunch by raising almost $14 billion by the end of 2013 with asset sales.
    Chesapeake is accepting bids until July 13 and plans to close the sale by Aug. 31, according to a listing for the properties on the website of energy-asset broker Meagher Energy Advisors. The richest part of Chesapeake’s holdings lie 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) to 10,000 feet underground and contain oil and natural gas liquids such as butane, according to the listing.
    The e-mails that prompted Encana’s review included an exchange between McClendon and a company vice president referring to a call with Encana to discuss oil and gas leases being auctioned off in northern Michigan in 2010. Reuters reported the e-mail exchanges on June 25 without saying where it obtained them.
    Encana “immediately initiated” an investigation of the allegations, David O’Brien, chairman of the company’s board of directors, said in a June 25 statement. “Encana therefore will not provide any further information at this time,” he said.
    The e-mails include discussions between the companies about divvying up Michigan counties for an October 2010 auction of state-held land leases with Encana bidding on some and Chesapeake on others, according to the Reuters report, which paraphrased those e-mails.
    Chesapeake denied any collusion with Encana over bidding for Michigan leases.
    New Chairman

    Chesapeake installed former ConocoPhillips Chairman Archie Dunham to lead the board last week after shareholders Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management Inc. forced McClendon out of the chairman’s role he occupied since co-founding the company in 1989.
    The company’s shares have plunged 24 percent this year as the impact of falling gas prices was compounded by revelations that the CEO used personal stakes in company-owned wells to borrow from financiers that did business with Chesapeake. The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission are conducting probes.

    Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:47am EDT

    (Reuters) - Under the direction of CEO Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy Corp. plotted with its top competitor to suppress land prices in one of America's most promising oil and gas plays, a Reuters investigation has found.
    In emails between Chesapeake and Encana Corp, Canada's largest natural gas company, the rivals repeatedly discussed how to avoid bidding against each other in a public land auction in Michigan two years ago and in at least nine prospective deals with private land owners here.
    In one email, dated June 16, 2010, McClendon told a Chesapeake deputy that it was time "to smoke a peace pipe" with Encana "if we are bidding each other up." The Chesapeake vice president responded that he had contacted Encana "to discuss how they want to handle the entities we are both working to avoid us bidding each other up in the interim." McClendon replied: "Thanks."
    That exchange - and at least a dozen other emails reviewed by Reuters - could provide evidence that the two companies violated federal and state laws by seeking to keep land prices down, antitrust lawyers said.
    "The famous phrase is a ‘smoking gun.' That's a smoking H-bomb," said Harry First, a former antitrust lawyer for the Department of Justice. "When the talk is explicitly about getting together to avoid bidding each other up, it's a red flag for collusion, bid-rigging, market allocation."
    The revelation of the discussions between Encana and Chesapeake, the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States, comes at a time when McClendon already is under fire.
    The company's board stripped him of his chairmanship after Reuters reported that he took out more than $1.3 billion in personal loans from a firm that also finances Chesapeake. The IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched inquiries.
    The talks to suppress land prices could prove even more damaging - for McClendon, Chesapeake, Encana and other top executives with both companies.
    Private industry cartels are forbidden in the United States, where price-fixing between competitors is illegal under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Violations carry stiff penalties. Companies can be fined up to $100 million and individuals up to $1 million for each offense. Jail sentences - which are rare - can be as long as 10 years, and collusion among competitors can lead to prosecution or fines for mail and wire fraud. Victims of bid-rigging can also seek triple the amount of damages.
    Chesapeake and Encana say they discussed forming a joint venture in Michigan but opted against it. Typically, such partnerships can defray the steep costs of shale development, which include amassing thousands of acres of land and drilling dozens of wells.
    In response to detailed questions from Reuters, Encana said it was undertaking an internal investigation, saying it "is committed to conducting its business in an ethical and legal way." It acknowledged that its U.S. branch "discussed, but did not go forward with, a joint venture with Chesapeake Energy," but added that it "cannot specifically address the questions posed at this time."
    Chesapeake spokesman Jim Gipson also said there had been discussions with Encana about "forming an ‘area of mutual interest' joint venture" in Michigan. But he said "no such agreement was reached between the parties…. Nor did Encana and Chesapeake make any joint bids."
    Antitrust lawyers said the fact that the companies discussed a formal joint venture wouldn't dispel legal concerns.
    "Nothing in the documents suggests any benefit to the joint venture other than making the price fall," said Darren Bush, a former attorney in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and a law professor at the University of Houston. "If it has no other purpose, then it's just a shell and doesn't change the liability for illegal conduct."
    The discussions about how to team up in Michigan apparently began in early June 2010, when Chesapeake and Encana were competing fiercely to acquire land in the Collingwood Shale formation in Northern Michigan.
    The shale formation is a layer of oil- and gas-rich rock lying thousands of feet below the rolling hills, cherry groves and family farms of northern Michigan. It extends from beneath the dunes on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron's shorelines to the center of the mitten-shaped state.
    In 2010, the region was at the forefront of America's shale boom - a buying frenzy made possible by the innovative drilling technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The technique has fueled the largest U.S. land grab since the Gold Rush of the 1850s - and Chesapeake and Encana are among the biggest players nationwide.
    Chesapeake's McClendon has been the single most acquisitive buyer. In the last 10 years, his company has amassed more than 15 million acres of land in the United States - an area about the size of West Virginia. Encana has leased 2.5 million acres. In Michigan alone, the two companies combined hold more than 975,000 acres of land - an area about the size of Rhode Island.
    At a May 2010 auction of public land run by Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake and Encana had been the dominant buyers. Through intermediary bidders, the two giants spent almost $165 million combined - 93 percent of the record $178 million taken in by the state - to acquire more than 84,000 acres of land. Chesapeake alone spent $138 million, according to a Reuters review of state data. Firms bid an average of $1,413 per acre for the right to extract oil and gas from the state-owned land.
    Meanwhile, private landowners - aware that major energy companies were paying top dollar to lease property - sought competing bids from rival drillers. Some landowners were being offered more than $3,000 per acre in June 2010, documents reviewed by Reuters show.
    Top executives from Chesapeake and Encana were growing weary of the rapidly escalating prices. In early June, Chesapeake vice president Doug Jacobson reached out to Encana to discuss what the emails characterized as an "area of mutual interest" in Michigan - regions where the two companies would have the option to share mineral leases equally after they were purchased.
    Area-of-mutual interest agreements are common in the oil industry. They allow drillers to share in the risks and rewards of developing an energy play. But they aren't meant to allow the discussion of strategies to divide territory or avoid competitive bidding, say oil and gas industry attorneys.
    In subsequent months, the emails show, top officials discussed ways to prevent land prices from escalating. The solution they proposed: dividing up Michigan counties and private landowners between them.
    From June 6 to June 15, 2010, the two companies swapped proposals. In many of the emails, officials refer to the companies by their three-letter stock abbreviations: CHK for Chesapeake and ECA for Encana.
    On June 6, Chesapeake vice president Jacobson sent an email with the subject line "CHK/ECA - MI" to Encana vice president John Schopp. It was copied to McClendon and to Jeff Wojahn, Encana's U.S. president. "Our proposal is pretty simple, but hopefully should be effective for us both," Jacobson wrote.
    He outlined a strategy that included swapping land already leased in Michigan and dividing up counties and private landowners where new leases might be secured.
    Both Chesapeake and Encana "will have the option of acquiring 50% of the acreage acquired by the other" within the area of mutual interest "on the same terms as the initial acquiring party," Jacobson wrote.
    Jacobson added that "the parties will work together to decide the best way to make a deal with Merit," a Dallas-based energy company that owned more than 200,000 acres of land in Michigan. Chesapeake, he wrote, "has met with them twice to date. They will be tough and expensive."
    Merit declined to comment.
    On June 15, Jacobson reiterated Chesapeake's desire to strike a deal with Encana. In an email to Schopp, the Encana vice president, Jacobson suggested they discuss plans to split up where, and from whom, each company would lease land in Michigan. The reason, the email shows, was to ensure each company could acquire more land without bidding against the other.
    "Also, when you are back in the saddle, I'd like to visit with you about the implications of the impact of our competition on acreage prices and whether or not the sooner we do this the better shot we have of keeping acreage prices from continuing to push up," Jacobson wrote to Schopp.
    Two minutes later, Jacobson forwarded that email to Chesapeake CEO McClendon and three other Chesapeake executives, documents show. The next day, McClendon sent his "peace pipe" email to Jacobson - an email that former Justice Department attorney First said could be "government exhibit No. 1" in an antitrust case.
    "It's what the prosecutor puts up in a PowerPoint presentation for the grand jury," said First, now a professor at New York University. "It would take a Hail Mary pass to defend that."
    To be sure, the documents reviewed by Reuters don't provide a complete picture of what went on between the two companies. One unanswered question is whether Chesapeake and Encana consummated any collusive agreements - a condition that might be necessary to convince a jury that the companies broke the law.
    One internal Chesapeake document indicates McClendon may have backed away from what a company memo characterized as a "joint-bid strategy" relating to a Michigan state land auction in October. The emails also don't make clear what became of efforts between the companies to decide which of them would handle the bidding for land held by private owners.
    But in the weeks after the discussions began, Chesapeake and Encana sharply cut the prices they were offering for land in Michigan, and average lease prices plunged in areas that had previously been hotly contested. At the time, the two companies were by far the largest lease buyers in the state.
    Chesapeake did some of its buying through contractor David McGuire, who secured Michigan leases on the company's behalf. In a July 16 email to Chesapeake executives, McGuire reported that both companies had cut the maximum per acre amount they were bidding by 50 percent. In the email, McGuire asked the executives whether this was a "coincidence?" In response, Chesapeake's Jacobson didn't address the question directly. Instead, he told McGuire to pare back further lease buying.
    Other documents show that in July, Chesapeake put on hold more than a dozen deals it had been negotiating with large private land owners. The documents show that both Encana and Chesapeake simultaneously stopped negotiating with one land owner, Walter Zaremba, and both withdrew offers for his land.
    "We suspected collusion when Encana called and said the deal was off, and Chesapeake lost interest at the same time," Zaremba said after Reuters showed him several of the emails, none of which he had previously seen. He was already in litigation with Encana, claiming that it reneged on a deal for about 20,000 acres he owns. "Sure as hell something happened because things don't just break down like that overnight."
    Oil and gas industry lawyers said the cooperation plan outlined in the emails under the auspices of an "area of mutual interest" isn't how joint ventures are meant to be handled.
    "These agreements are not a way in which companies divide up territory together or avoid sellers playing them off each other," said Bruce Kramer, an expert on oil and gas law.
    Chesapeake and Encana have never publicly disclosed any joint venture, and oil and gas industry analysts consider them fierce rivals. Each holds major land positions in several of the same shale-rich states. Their competitive streaks make the behind-the-scenes communications all the more striking.
    At least a dozen emails between top-level executives of the two firms address themes that competitors are warned not to discuss with each other, according to antitrust guidelines set by the American Petroleum Institute, the leading U.S. oil industry trade group.
    To avoid potentially illegal behavior when competitors meet at an industry conference, for instance, the trade group warns against discussing any number of topics, most of which Chesapeake and Encana covered in the emails reviewed by Reuters.
    Among the subjects the institute says competitors should avoid: sharing confidential or proprietary information; discussing agreements, either explicit or implicit, on pricing; company purchasing, merger or divestment plans; market allocation and development plans; inventories or costs. "Any discussion regarding potential energy or economic scenarios that may arise must be limited to generalities," the guidelines say.
    Attempts at price-fixing by rival corporations are typically difficult to prove in court. That's because competitors rarely commit collusive agreements to writing.
    Top Chesapeake and Encana executives, however, spelled out their ideas in great detail, the emails show, from the beginning of June 2010 through that October.
    "This looks like a great start," Encana's Schopp replied June 7 to Chesapeake's Jacobson's proposal to divide bidding responsibilities. "A few suggestions that would maximize our effectiveness."
    Among his recommendations was that the companies split owners into two groups; Chesapeake would handle negotiations with one and Encana with the other. That way, the two wouldn't bid against one another. Also copied on the June 7 email from Schopp: Encana CEO Randy Eresman.
    About one week later, June 15 at 6:51 a.m., McClendon himself weighed in. He copied Encana's U.S. president Wojahn and Eresman. Referring to one company that owned mineral leases on more than 30,000 Michigan acres, McClendon wrote that it "looks like Northstar wants us to bid against each other next week, let's discuss who should handle that one - thanks."
    NorthStar is an energy company based in Traverse City, Mich. The company declined to comment.
    Another note about NorthStar appeared in a June 16 Chesapeake summary of Michigan land deals. It said that McClendon "does not want to complete (sic) with Encana on this deal if CHK is interested."
    "We call that bid rotation," a violation of antitrust law in which participants in a transaction select who will be the winner in advance of bidding, said Herbert Hovenkamp, a law professor and antitrust expert at the University of Iowa.
    Later on June 16, Jacobson asked Schopp how soon he thought Encana could craft a formal deal to work together. Chesapeake, he added, was largely amenable to the "county split."
    That's when Jacobson urged quick action to keep "acreage prices from continuing to push up."
    Perhaps the most sophisticated plan the two companies forged was developing a bidding strategy for the auction of state land in Michigan on October 26, 2010.
    Bidding at the state's May 2010 auction had been vigorous and contested. That helped the state raise a record $178 million from the sale of more than 118,000 acres, according to a review of state auction data by Reuters. At that auction, 83 percent of the more than 1,200 winning bids had competitive offers.
    Five months later, at the October auction, the bidding and the results proved remarkably different and far less lucrative. It raised just $9.7 million from the leasing of about 274,000 acres - more than twice the acreage sold in May but almost $170 million less in revenue.
    The average winning bid in October was $46, the Reuters analysis shows. In May, it had been $1,413. Most of the winning bids in October were for the minimum price set by the state: $13 per acre.
    One possible reason for the dreary auction results in October is that prices for natural gas had fallen significantly, about 20 percent.
    Another possible reason, according to documents reviewed by Reuters: Two of the largest buyers in October - Chesapeake and Encana - had been discussing how to avoid bidding against the other.
    On October 14 - a dozen days before the state auction - Kurt S. Froistad, a land executive with Encana, emailed Gary Dunlap, Chesapeake's vice president of land. The subject line: "Michigan State Lease Sale."
    Froistad told Dunlap he was "working on a draft agreement for the sale, but wanted to identify Encana's suggested contract lands and bidding responsibilities so you can take a look."
    The suggested split shows Encana as the "bidder" at the auction for state land in Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Kalkaska and Crawford counties. Chesapeake would be the "bidder" in Emmet, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Missaukee and Grand Traverse counties, according to the email.
    Over the next three days, Chesapeake executives designed maps outlining the proposed split of bidding at the state auction, according to emails.
    McClendon and Wojahn, president of Encana's U.S. unit, were aware of the proposed auction bidding strategy. "Understand our teams are working on a cooperative approach to state leasing, that's good I think. Anything else out there encouraging to talk about?" McClendon wrote in an email to Wojahn on October 17.
    "We haven't arrived at a strategy yet but as we approach the sale we will be happy to have a fulsome technical discussion," Wojahn replied on October 18.
    A day later, Chesapeake drew up a particularly detailed map. It projected how the county split could allow each firm to end up with almost exactly 134,000 "oil acres" after the auction. Oil-rich shale is much more valuable, since crude trades at a massive premium to natural gas.
    On October 20, Wojahn sent McClendon an update: "From what I understand (Encana's) John Schopp has been leading the charge on working with your team on arranging a bidding strategy. I have a meeting with John planned on Friday and a review with Randy Monday." Randy is Randy Eresman, Encana's CEO.
    McClendon appears to have decided to back away from the auction plan proposed by Froistad. A summary of Chesapeake's new ventures, sent in an email on October 23, notes that, as a result of a meeting with McClendon, staff members should inform Encana that Chesapeake had lost interest in the "joint-bid strategy."
    In the end, Chesapeake and Encana did not acquire state land in the exact counties outlined in the proposals and in the maps Reuters reviewed. But an analysis of the auction results shows that neither company bought any land in the same county as the other. Earlier, at the May auction, bidders for Chesapeake and Encana had competed fiercely for tracts in several of the same counties.
    Because the state does not keep a bid-by-bid record for parcels in which there was competition, it's unclear whether Chesapeake and Encana ever bid against each other in October.
    But records do show that other companies bid against Chesapeake in just 10 percent of the 320 leases it purchased at the fall auction. That's in stark contrast to the Michigan state auction in May. Then, Chesapeake faced competing bids for every one of the more than 850 leases it secured.
    Encana fared similarly in the fall auction. In October, only 27 percent of the 1,675 leases it purchased were contested. In the May auction, companies bid against Encana in each of its 70 successful offers.
    Antitrust experts said that even though the plans discussed in the emails didn't play out exactly as envisioned, they nonetheless may have had the desired effect.
    "In a situation where there is some level of collusion going on, it's hard to get agreement on everything. It's not easy to form cartels," said law professor First. "The fact that a cartel isn't perfectly effective doesn't mean it isn't harmful."
    (Reporting by Brian Grow and Joshua Schneyer in Gaylord, Michigan, and by Janet Roberts in New York; editing by Blake Morrison and Michael Williams)

    Posted by Joe Heaney & Michael J. McEachern on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 in Walden Associates

    Friday June 15, 2012

    Marcellus ShaleThe Marcellus Shale is in the news again as NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his support for natural gas drilling in upstate Counties subject to local approvals by municipalities (NY Times June 13, 2012). The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a document called Revised Draft SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program (September 2011) SGEIS which sets forth the standards of care and regulation of Marcellus Shale gas exploration and development.

    Marcellus Shale wells are several thousand feet deep and can be drilled at angles or even horizontal by directional drilling technology. This enables a gas well to intercept a maximum length of gas-producing rock, greatly increasing gas production per well. Gas production id further increased by “hydrofracing” which involves pumping a liquid-sand slurry into the well at very high pressure to open tiny rock fractures. These fractured remain open due to the sand grains that are pumped in during the process.

    Opponents of gas drilling and particularly hydrofracing to increase gas extraction from directionally drilled wells are concerned that water resources, especially groundwater, may be contaminated by wastewater used in the drilling and hydrofracing operations. Much of the opposition comes from parts of NY State, such as Long Island that would not be affected by gas drilling and development, whereas impoverished upstate areas look to this as a potential boon to land values, job creation and cheap energy. Recent studies by the USEPA and others indicate that gas development using horizontally-drilled and hydrofraced wells can be done safely without risk to surface water or groundwater supplies. Containing, recycling and treatment of wastewater must be properly managed and proposed regulations would require strict regulatory compliance.

    The electric power industry right in New York State, is faced with many aged, inefficient coal fired plants that are scheduled to be de-commissioned in the face of stricter air regulations, and there is a pent-up demand for natural gas supplies for new plants and repowering of old plants.

    Walden has been investigating and pursuing the Marcellus Shale gas development initiative to assist energy companies in all aspects of environmental investigation and compliance with a broad range of regulatory-mandated programs. These programs include site selection, stormwater, spill control, wastewater containment, treatment, environmental impact assessment (traffic, wetlands, habitat preservation, etc.). The firm is committed to support development of this resource in New York and other states while applying the needed professional expertise to prevent environmental degradation as feared by the opponents.  Walden believes drilling can be done safely and protective the Waters of the State of New York, it is time to act.

    The status of Marcellus Shale gas development in New York has been virtually stalled by slow approval of regulatory guidelines, “red-lining” of areas controlled by some communities and by the New York City watershed, and possibly most of all by the depressed natural gas prices. Walden is confident that pent-up demand will catch up with the means of production and that Marcellus Shale gas will bring new prosperity and energy alternatives to New York.  Mr. Governor its time to act – approve Shale Gas drilling, even limited Shale gas drilling in New York State now!!

    Photo Credit: Marcellus


    There has been a lot of attention to a recent New York Times article that laid out a possible scenario for moving forward with natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region.

    The key aspect of this report was the idea that the Cuomo administration will give preference to a limited number of communities that have passed resolutions in favor of responsible drilling.

    There has been a mixed response to this report. Some are upset about it because they think it will sharply limit development, create a patchwork of regulation and impede the economic opportunities that will come from natural gas development.

    Our initial reaction is that it would appear to indicate that the administration wants to proceed with the permitting process, albeit in a limited way. The newspaper article raises many questions -- not the least of which is what happens in communities not mentioned in the article.

    The JLC is trying to get answers to these questions. It is difficult to comment on a proposed plan until there is more clarity and official word from the administration.

    We believe it is best to refrain from comment.

    Please be assured that the JLC will do its best to protect all of its members. We strongly believe that all landowners have a right to develop their land.

    Our posture for the short term is to refrain from comment until such time as there is definitive word from the administration.

    We specifically want to distance ourselves from those who are inclined to sharply criticize the administration based on a newspaper article. We don’t believe that is constructive at this time.

    We are monitoring this situation closely and will pass along relevant information as it is received.

    Warm Regards,

    Dan Fitzsimmons, President

    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.


    The Washington Times Op Ed  By Thomas J. Pyle

    Businessman T. Boone Pickens and other proponents of energy subsidies claim Congress must subsidize the conversion of trucks to natural gas in order for companies to convert from petroleum-based fuels to less expensive natural gas. But contrary to Mr. Pickens‘ claims, this transition is happening already without government subsidies.

    Fortune 500 company Waste Management recently announced that over the next five years, 80 percent of the trucks it purchases for its waste-collection business will be fueled by natural gas. Although the trucks will cost about $30,000 more than traditional models, the company calculated that the decision will save $27,000 a year per truck because of the present cost of diesel and the falling cost of natural gas.

    Other companies that either provide transportation services or are dependent on the use of trucks to transport goods are following suit. Caterpillar recently inked a deal with Westport Innovations, a natural-gas engine manufacturer, to develop engines for off-road equipment such as mining trucks and trains, and Shell recently announced it would offer liquefied natural gas (LNG) for heavy-duty trucks at 100 fueling stations across the United States starting next year.

    Scott Perry, a vice president of the truck-leasing and commercial-goods transportation company Ryder System said that for his business, “the economics favoring natural gas are overwhelming.” With natural gas prices hovering near a 10-year low for most of the year, the landscape for commercial transportation fuels looks entirely different than it did even two years ago, when wellhead prices for natural gas were almost twice the price of today.

    The remarkable drop in the price of natural gas is because of the recent advances in the use of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technology that was pioneered in the United States in the 1940s but has been transformed recently. The combination of hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling has enabled producers to access huge new reservoirs of unconventional shale gas, which could not be produced in an economic fashion with previous technology. In 2007, shale gas production was essentially nonexistent; yet in 2010, the United States produced 4.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from shale gas wells. This has been an enormously important development for our energy-security prospects, to say the least.

    Moreover, the advent of shale gas and the commercial sector’s embrace of natural-gas trucks is a testament to what the free market can do when allowed to function properly. Since 2008, Mr. Pickens has advocated relentlessly for taxpayer-funded subsidies for natural gas (and wind, in the beginning) which he argues are “necessary” to jump-start a new energy revolution in the United States and wean our country off oil. As such, he has asked Congress to approve subsidies of up to $64,000 per truck and $100,000 for fueling stations - never mind that as of last year Mr. Pickens himself owns 41 percent of the nation’s largest provider of natural-gas fuel for transportation.

    Fortunately, Congress has not yet acted to approve Pickens-backed legislation, dubbed the NATGASAct, and today, we see the needlessness of those policies realized. Subsidies inevitably distort the market toward a product that neither producers nor consumers would naturally prefer, and the adverse consequences of using taxpayer resources to pick winners and losers have been outsized in cases like Solyndra.

    Today, the United States is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and despite warnings just a few years ago of declining national gas production, it is actually on the rise. The switch Waste Management and other companies are making to natural-gas-powered vehicles demonstrates that when something makes economic sense, the changes happen without subsidies or special government favors.

    Thomas J. Pyle is president of the American Energy Alliance.

    By Moran Zhang in International Times Daily 6/22/2012

    While coal has powered the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, heated homes and generated electricity, the era of "King Coal" has come to an end.

    In the last five years, the fuel mix of the U.S. electric power sector has undergone a dramatic shift away from coal and to natural gas, as natural gas prices have plummeted to record-low levels.

    The share of electricity generated by burning coal in the U.S. has fallen in March (most recent data available) to 34 percent -- the lowest level since the government began collecting data in 1949. Meanwhile, natural gas-fired generation jumped 40 percent from the same month in 2011 and accounted for almost one-third of electricity generation.

    Five years earlier, coal captured 50 percent of net generation and natural gas was little more than 20 percent. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects by 2030, natural gas will take over almost half of the national fuel mix.

    "The switch in fuel mix is here to stay and probably it's here to stay for a long time," said Rick Scott, senior managing director of L&S Advisors Inc.

    A number of factors are driving the coal-to-natural gas switch, such as huge supply of gas, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air rules and a variety of other factors that don't change quickly, said Sean Moran, co-chair of the energy practice at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC.

    Coal prices have been declining this year -- U.S. benchmark central Appalachian thermal coal prices fell from near $70 a metric ton at the start of this year to around $54 a metric ton recently. Economists expect further declines in coal prices.

    However, even if coal prices were to nosedive, power generation companies are unlikely to turn back to using coal.

    "The decisions being made by power generation companies are large capital-type-related decisions that are going to be hard to quickly switch back," Moran said. "It will be really, really difficult to change the trend."

    Coal plants are struggling to keep the lights on as utilities switch to cleaner and cheaper alternatives.

    The latest setback came Thursday as Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI), one of the world's largest coal producers, said it would lay off about 750 workers in the Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia coalfields. Arch said the reductions would trim its thermal coal production by more than 3 million tons annually.

    "Current market pressures and a challenging regulatory environment have pushed coal consumption in the United States to a 20-year low," Arch President and Chief Executive Officer John W. Eaves said in a statement.

    As a result of declines in coal consumption by electric power plants, March coal stockpiles were about 196 million short tons, almost 18 percent above the level in March 2011 and also above the five-year range.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. shale boom - featuring drillers using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to release the fuel from previously uneconomic shale rocks -- has pushed natural gas markets to a 10-year low of $1.90 million British thermal units on April 19, as new supplies overwhelm consumption.

    Natural gas for July delivery at Henry Hub in Louisiana, the futures pricing point, closed Thursday at $2.48 per million British thermal units. While the price has rebounded somewhat, it's still considered very cheap.

    In the past, when the price of natural gas declined, making it seem like a more economically cost-effective way to go than coal, utilities always had in the back of their minds that these price fluctuations generally have been temporary.

    It could be due to weather. Natural gas prices could fall because of mild temperatures.

    Power generation companies were reluctant to make the switch back then because they fear that as soon as they shift away from coal and to natural gas, if a very cold winter hits, then natural gas price would go back up.

    "To make the change is not as simple as turning on a light switch or water faucet," Scott, of L&S Advisors Inc., said. "There's downtime and there's cost."

    This time, however, is different.

    "Today is truly different," Scott said, referring to the long-term advantages natural gas has over coal, which includes abundant supply, cheap price, and fewer emissions of toxic chemicals and gases that contribute to climate change.

    "There really is a glut of natural gas out there as far the eye can see, given the tremendous production and exploration that's going on here in the U.S.," Scott said.

    Between 2005 and 2010, the U.S. shale-gas industry grew at an amazing rate of 45 percent a year. As a proportion of America's overall gas production, shale gas has increased from 4 percent in 2005 to 24 percent today.

    Power plants that burn coal produce more than 90 times as much sulfur dioxide (which causes acid rain), five times as much nitrogen oxide (causes smog) and twice as much carbon dioxide (causes global warming) as those that run on natural gas, according to the Government Accountability Office, the regulatory arm of Congress.

    This is an opportune time to switch from coal to natural gas.

    The EPA has enacted a pair of clean-air rules over the past year that tightened limits on power-plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, and place new limits on mercury, a poison found in coal. In what could be an even bigger environmental blow to coal, the EPA in March issued guidelines that could limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

    "While power generation companies take advantage of the price difference, they at the same time also satisfy a lot of the environmental people, satisfy regulatory agencies and satisfy the administration to a certain extent," Scott said.

    While there will be some periodic price fluctuations in natural gas, Scott expects it could very easily fall below $2 again.

    And even if coal prices become ultra-cheap, as long as natural gas stays at the level it is today or lower, lower coal prices won't necessarily outweigh all the other negatives that go along with it.

    "There would be no incentives for utility companies to switch back to coal, as long as natural gas prices remain at these levels or even lower, irrespective of what the price of coal does," Scott said.

    Share prices of leading U.S. thermal coal miners, including Consol Energy Inc. (NYSE: CNX), Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) and Arch Coal Inc. (NYSE: ACI) have all fallen significantly so far this year, with the latter two losing more than half of their value, respectively.

    Year-to-date, shares of major natural gas producers, including Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE: CHK), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) have declined 18 percent, 6 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

    By Christopher Helman in Forbes

    There are a few societal costs to the development of shale gas. Potential contamination of groundwater, complications in treating and recycling water used in fracking. Then there’s air pollution from leaking methane (a potent greenhouse gas) and from the diesel-powered rigs and trucks involved in drilling.

    But all things considered the benefits of shale gas appear to outweigh the costs. Many utilities are finding that burning natural gas to generate electricity is cheaper (and cleaner) than coal. Cheaper supplies of fuel and feedstocks benefits U.S. industry, especially manufacturers and chemicals makers which have been reinvesting in the U.S. Homeowners benefit from cheaper heating and cooling and electricity. Drilling for gas has created hundreds of thousands of jobs during this economic malaise and it’s generated billions of dollars of lease payments and royalties to landowners.

    A group of Yale economics graduates, many of them energy industry executives, led by Yale Professor Emeritus Paul W. MacAvoy, were curious about whether they could quantify the economic benefit that shale gas has on America. So they recently set out to do a cost-benefit analysis, valuing and balancing the pros against the cons.

    They’ve released their findings in a paper called “The Arithmetic of Shale Gas.

    I’ve parsed all the complicated academic equations so you don’t have to. Their conclusion: the benefits of continued shale gas development are enormous and dramatically outweigh even worst-case scenario costs of pollution and clean-up.

    Some specifics. Consider that back in 2008, before the shale boom really took off, the nominal price of natural gas (that is, the price at the Henry Hub in Louisiana) averaged $7.97 per mcf. In 2011, the price averaged $3.95 per mcf. Multiply that price drop of $4.02 per mcf by the 25.6 trillion cubic feet the country consumed in 2008 and you find that thanks to the shale boom, America is paying $103 billion a year less for natural gas. (With gas prices falling even further since 2011, in 2012 the benefit will be even greater.)

    Had drillers not cracked the code on shale gas, the United States would instead have been forced to do what the experts expected five years ago: import massive quantities of gas, in the form of LNG from countries like Qatar, Australia, even Russia. Import-dependent nations like Japan and Korea pay upwards of $14 per mcf for LNG — more than triple U.S. prices. If the U.S. had to supplement domestic supplies with imports, the extra costs could have easily added $50 billion a year to the national natgas bill.

    As the report’s authors write: “It is startling to acknowledge that consumer benefits from the technology of shale gas drilling and new gas production can be expected to exceed $100 billion per year, year in and year out, as long as present production rates are maintained.”

    But it’s not enough to just look at the benefits. What about the costs?

    The authors collected as many reports as they could find describing “accidents, misuse of technology and poor well design and installation.” A 2011 report for the Secretary of Energy counted 19 times that water from fracking operations spilled out of thousands of wells drilled. None of these instances included groundwater contamination. The Oklahoma Corporations Commission, which regulates the 100,000 oil and gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured in Oklahoma had zero documented instances of groundwater contamination. The EPA has reported two instances of groundwater contamination from fracking in Wyoming, though the agency has been roundly criticized for its methods.

    Despite any evidence showing that drilling and fracking cause spills or pollution with any frequency, the authors decided to calculate the costs for a scenario that assumes 100 spills a year out of 10,000 new wells drilled each year. They figure that if 5,000 gallons of polluted frack water were to spill into a field, the cost to scrape up a hypothetical 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and dispose of it at an offsite landfill would be on the order of $2.5 million. Furthermore, if a potable water well were polluted by fracking, the cost to haul in a potable water supply and drill a new water well would be about $5,000. Given 100 incidents in a year, the clean-up costs associated with fracking accidents would be roughly $250 million.

    Comparing this $250 million a year in damages against the $100 billion in savings, and “economic benefits, as estimated in as limited methodology as is reasonable, exceed costs to the community by 400-to-1.”

    (The study authors don’t attempt to quantify the costs of gas leaking into the atmosphere and don’t factor in any legal costs incurred in settling with landowners whose water is polluted. I would have hypothesized a worse worst-case scenario that would tack on an additional $2.5 million per incident in legal settlements and/or fines, to bring the total to $500 million a year. In that case, the benefits outweigh the costs by only 200-to-1.)

    The study group also looked at the potential benefit to consumers of replacing oil consumption with gas — most likely via cars that run on compressed gas or LNG. It takes 6 mcf of gas to get the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil. The authors assume an average natgas price of $5 per mcf (nearly double today’s price) and an average oil price of $100 per barrel (about $20 more than today). Thus, you need $30 worth of natgas to replace $100 of oil, a savings of $70 per barrel. Replacing just 1 million barrels per day of oil demand with natural gas would save $70 million a day, or nearly $26 billion a year.

    Their conclusion, of course: not even inflated costs associated with unrealistically high incidences of  pollution can come close to balancing the societal benefits of the shale gas boom.

    In addition to Prof. MacAvoy, the other members of the Yale Graduates in Energy Study Group include Robert Ames, Solazyme Corporation; Anthony Corridore, Lafarge North America; Joel N. Ephross, Duane Morris LLP; Edward A. Hirs III, Hillhouse Resources, LLC and University of Houston; and Richard Tavelli, private energy consultant.

    Commentary, Press Connects by Robert Tiberio

    As I read anti-gas opinions, I often think, "There you go again."

    Drilling opponents with little apparent knowledge of the gas industry, geology or health statistics ignore science-based studies and constantly repeat discredited anecdotes and scary news reports about "possible" health effects. Predictably, they just assume that drilling will contaminate water supplies. But assumptions aren't facts.

    Starting at the earth's surface, New York's proposed SGEIS regulations require drilling return water be contained in water-tight tanks, not in open pits as some assume. Looking deeper, Don Siegel, an experienced hydrogeologist at Syracuse University and recognized expert in Marcellus underground water flow, emphasizes that for several reasons, "fracking" fluids have virtually no chance of rising through thousands of feet of dense rock into fresh-water aquifers. Speaking recently in Binghamton, John Hanger, former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, confirmed that this has never happened in Pennsylvania. Indeed, the independent Duke University study found no evidence of fracking chemicals in Pennsylvania well water, despite false assumptions from a few non-geologists in academia.

    Hanger also pointed out that 34,000 people a year die prematurely of illnesses related to pollutants from burning coal and oil. Natural gas produces almost none of these chemicals and its increased use has already saved the lives of thousands of men, women and children. As trucks and buses convert to natural gas, many more lives will be saved. Even the liberal Union of Concerned Scientists finds that the drop in emissions of sulfur, mercury and nitrogen oxides from increased use of natural gas "translates into public health benefits, as these pollutants have been linked to asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease."

    Yet Sandra Steingraber, an anti-gas ecologist from Ithaca College, assumes without actual evidence that gas drilling will cause everything from asthma to cancer. She fails to consider Marcellus geology, modern drilling technology or regulatory safeguards that all prevent environmental contamination.

    Conclusions from recent scientific studies include: "Health records indicate that while [gas] production increased, fewer residents were diagnosed with serious illnesses such as cancer, respiratory disease, strokes and heart disease" (Community Health Status Indicators, Denton County, Texas) and "[the report] did not identify concentrations of any compound that would likely trigger air-related health issues associated with Marcellus Shale drilling activities" (DEP air quality report for northeast Pennsylvania).

    If assumptions about negative health effects of hydrofracking were true, gas workers who spend long hours near wells should be suffering the worst effects. But U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show their illness rates are not even close to the top 25 for U.S. industries.

    In study after unbiased study, the false assumption that drilling will contaminate the environment and cause illness is shown to be unproven or false. With inexpensive shale gas now driving economic recovery all over the nation, it's time those suffering from insufficient knowledge about safe natural gas drilling stop assuming and learn the facts.

    Tiberio is a Vestal resident.

    Melissa deCordova, Press Sun Bulletin 6/13/2012

    BINGHAMTON – Former Pennsylvania Department of Environment Secretary John Hanger makes his inaugural visit to New York to discuss natural gas issues at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn at 2-8 Hawley Street in Binghamton.

    The event is jointly sponsored by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) and the Broome County Farm Bureau. Local elected officials will attend and have an opportunity to ask former Secretary Hanger pertinent questions about regulating and monitoring natural gas development.

    The discussion will include a screening of the newly released industry film, “Truthland,” in which Hanger appears and which details natural gas development. The JLCNY has announced that it will screen “Truthland” to various groups across the Southern Tier who have been misled by the film, Gasland, by Josh Fox. “Truthland” a short 35 minute movie done by a school teacher in Susquahanna County searching for the truth about hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. Asked by the filmmakers to find someone who could take this journey and telegraph it to thousands of landowners who also wanted to know the truth, JLC President Dan Fitzsimmons said, “I recommended my childhood friend, Shelly, because she had firsthand experience with a gas well on her property; a son who worked for the industry; and because she is originally from New York and wanted to help get the truth out about natural gas issues.” In “Truthland,” various experts address issues sur- rounding natural gas development and fracking, such as water, use of chemicals, methane migration, and whether livestock, crops and people are affected. Some experts point out how “Gasland” was misleading and led to erroneous conclusions in an artful and folksy way that encouraged believability.

    This nationwide trek mirrors the JLC’s journey – whose leaders have combed the Northeast looking for the truth about natural gas development.

    “This film validates and vindicates the JLC’s 70,000 members who have relied on facts and science and not bumper sticker slogans. We focused on substance sur- rounding natural gas drilling and while seeing this film and its conclusions makes us angry that so many were led astray, we are empowered to keep pushing for fair- ness, truth, and our rights back,” said Fitzsimmons.

    The mission of the JLCNY is to foster, promote, advance and protect the common interest of the people as it pertains to natural gas development though educa- tion and best environmental practices.  - Melissa deCordova

    •   http://www.newschannel34.com/news/local/story/TruthLand-Film-Released/7FhL2XAzjE-LURMI4Ei-hg.cspx

    •   http://www.newschannel34.com/news/local/story/Former-DEP-Commish-Speaks-to-JLCNY/iorT3r_vDUGRO6qrfoHXNQ.cspx

    •   http://www.newschannel34.com/mostpopular/story/Possible-Fracking-in-NY/OFf90DoSFUGMnVGV661hjw.cspx

    •   http://www.wbng.com/news/local/Former-Pennsylvania-DEP-Secretary-Advocates-Gas-Drilling-in-New-York-158957805.html

    •   http://www.wbng.com/news/local/Digging-for-the-Truth--158955935.html

    •   http://www.wicz.com/news2005/viewarticle.asp?a=23735

    •   http://fuelfix.com/blog/2012/06/14/idea-of-limited-ny-fracking-divides-energy-camps/


    3:08 PM, Jun. 13, 2012 |

    Written by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his deputy Thomas Libous praised a potential move forward by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow limited hydraulic fracturing in the Southern Tier, saying the drilling would be a boon for the region.

    “I think for the Southern Tier of the state, this is a huge potential job creator. If DEC comes out and says it can be done safely, I think we should do it,” Skelos, R-Nassau County, said in an interview today with Gannett’s Albany Bureau.

    Skelos said attempts for a hydrofracking moratorium ban would not be approved in the Senate, despite calls for it by Democrats and even some Republicans, including Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County.

    “That’s what the DEC study is about,” Skelos said.

    Libous, R-Binghamton, has been a major proponent of fracking, and his district is in the heart of the Marcellus Shale, the gas-rich rock formation. Gannett’s Albany Bureau quoted Libous in April saying that the state might target areas of the state in support of hydrofracking, which the New York Times reported Wednesday is being pursued by the Cuomo administration.

    But Libous said today that he has concerns that if a town board doesn’t approve fracking, it would not go forward—even if landowners want it.

    “It’s very positive. I’m excited about, but as I’ve said, I have 30,000 landowners and there may be towns in Broome, Tioga, Chenango counties that haven’t taken a formal vote,” Libous said of the latest developments. “That doesn’t mean we should discount the rights of those 30,000 landowners.”


    Open the attachment below for the high resolution pdf version.

    Published: June 13, 2012 New York Times

    ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration is pursuing a plan to limit the controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing to portions of several struggling New York counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and to permit it only in communities that express support for the technology.

    The plan, described by a senior official at the State Department of Environmental Conservation and others with knowledge of the administration’s strategy, would limit drilling to the deepest areas of the Marcellus Shale rock formation, at least for the next several years, in an effort to reduce the risk of groundwater contamination.

    Even within that southwest New York region — primarily Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga Counties — drilling would be permitted only in towns that agree to it, and would be banned in Catskill Park, aquifers and nationally designated historic districts.

    The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations in the administration are still continuing.

    The strategy has not been made final and details could change, but it has been taking shape over several months. It would be contingent on hydraulic fracturing’s receiving final approval from state regulators, a step that is not a foregone conclusion but is widely expected later this summer. Department of Environmental Conservation regulators last year signaled their initial support for the drilling process around the state, with exceptions for environmentally sensitive areas like New York City’s upstate watershed.

    Since that announcement, the Cuomo administration has been deluged with tens of thousands of e-mails and letters mostly objecting to the process, which is better known as hydrofracking or fracking, and protesters have become a regular presence at the Capitol.

    Mr. Cuomo’s administration is now trying to acknowledge the economic needs of the rural upstate area, while also honoring the opposition expressed in some communities, and limiting the ire of environmentalists, who worry that hydrofracking could contaminate groundwater and lead to other hazards. The administration had initially expected to allow 75 hydrofracking permits in the first year, but now expects to reduce that to 50.

    In fracking, large amounts of sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressures to extract natural gas from rock formations.

    President Obama expressed support for natural gas drilling in his State of the Union address this year, saying, “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”

    But concerns have persisted about the chemicals used in the process. Last year, for instance, federal regulators linked fracking to a contaminated water supply in part of central Wyoming.

    In New York, while more than 100 communities have passed moratoriums or bans on fracking, a few dozen in the Southern Tier and in western New York have passed resolutions in favor of the drilling process.

    “A lot of people look at this as a way to save our property,” said Dewey Decker, a farmer and the town supervisor of Sanford, in Broome County, just north of the Pennsylvania border. Residents of the town have already leased thousands of acres to a drilling company.

    Mr. Decker said the area’s traditional dairy business had been in sharp decline, and the promise of fracking had already helped some residents.

    He said there were “a lot of people who, when we signed and got the upfront money, were going to be losing their land and couldn’t pay their taxes.”

    The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation that stretches from the Appalachian Mountains into the central and western parts of New York. State regulators believe that by limiting drilling to areas where the Marcellus Shale is at least 2,000 feet deep, risks of contaminating the water supply with toxic chemicals will be reduced. Regulators would require drillers to maintain a 1,000-foot buffer between water sources and the top of the shale formation.

    Environmental groups have been divided over whether fracking should be allowed at all. Some mainstream organization have not completely closed the door on the idea of fracking.

    “We recognize that gas is going to be part of our energy mix and it’s preferable to other types of fuels that are out there,” said Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York. “So it’s not really an option to say ‘no way’ to natural gas. But we’re not in a rush to see this resource extracted in New York.”

    Mr. Moore expressed a number of concerns, like oversight of chemical use and disposal, and the added cost that hydrofracking oversight would create for state and local governments. “If this is going to happen,” he said, “we want to make sure it happens to the highest standards and doesn’t have the pace and scale of drilling in states like Pennsylvania, where it’s been fast and furious, and you’ve ended up with a lot of problems as a result.”

    By contrast, smaller, more local groups have been adamant that fracking is inherently unsafe and should not be allowed anywhere in the state.

    “Within five years, you’ll start to see these chemicals show up in the water system,” said Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, one of the more vocal opponents of fracking.

    Mr. Adams added that he feared pristine regions of New York would be turned over to drilling companies, which would cut down trees, use large trucks and “bring every bad thing you could unleash on people.”

    The critics have been countered by the industry’s considerable lobbying muscle. Ten companies or trade groups that lobbied on fracking and other issues of concern to the natural gas industry spent $4.5 million lobbying in Albany over the last three years, according to an analysis prepared by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

    “Everybody wants groundwater protected and people protected,” said James Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York. “The industry is very serious about doing this safely here in New York. We know there is a great deal of scrutiny here, and our position is for safe development.”

    But, Mr. Smith said, “overregulation is going to be a concern.”

    “If the regulations are too severe, it will limit New York’s competitiveness with other states,” he added. “Developers won’t come here. Landowners won’t have the opportunity to mine their resources. Businesses, school districts, tax bases across the state will suffer, too, as a result.”

    Colin Sullivan, E&E reporter

    Published: Monday, June 11, 2012

    NEW YORK -- Experts with an eye on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's presidential ambition say the first-term Democrat is facing a stern political test that could go a long way toward determining his viability as a national candidate. That homegrown fight is over hydraulic fracturing.

    Whether Cuomo will run for the White House in 2016 is a no-brainer to political veterans here. They say the popular, middle-of-the-road son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo is prepared to go where his father never did and make a decisive play for the Democratic nomination.

    But in the run-up to that decision, a vexing test has emerged in New York over what once seemed like a shoo-in environmental permitting process for a breakthrough technology. A groundswell of opposition on the environmental left to the process known as high-volume fracturing, or fracking, has built over the past several years and put Cuomo in a bit of a box.

    That is because Cuomo has tried from the start of his administration to position himself squarely on the center-left. He has worked with Republicans to craft sound budget after sound budget, winning accolades from both sides for setting his sights on making Albany work.

    Yet this time, on fracking, Cuomo finds himself caught between the economy on the center-right and the environment on the left. He will soon have to make a decision after years of delay on permits for natural gas producers. Whatever move he makes is bound to either alienate a core constituency opposed to fracking or distance the governor from a pro-development, upstate agenda meant to address rampant unemployment.

    That kind of test is precisely the kind of challenge that will come up on the campaign trail during the primary process in 2016. How Cuomo handles the matter in the months ahead could be crucial, experts say.

    To Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at State University of New York, New Paltz, Cuomo has so far worked hard to balance the state budget, minimize taxes and "bring New York into a fiscally responsible circumstance." That side of his politics has been matched by accommodating the left on social issues, specifically on enacting a same-sex marriage law.

    Now comes fracking, which Benjamin sees as "a highly visible test" of Cuomo's disciplined national image in the making. Whether the governor can tiptoe between the left and right this time and emerge stronger is a question, he said.

    "It matters because he made economic development a priority in New York," Benjamin said. "It has become not only substantively important but also symbolically important."

    Dodging a decision?

    Also emerging is a battle in the state's court system. As Cuomo's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has slow-walked its way through the question of ending a moratorium against fracking since 2008, local opposition in dozens of municipalities has matched the outcry from activists, and various attempts to ban fracking at the local level have already ended up in court.

    That the issue has gone to the judicial system before Cuomo's administration settles it at the state level has put pressure on the governor to say yes or no after years of delay. Steve Cohen, the executive director of the Earth Institute and a sustainability professor at Columbia University, said that dynamic means Cuomo has to decide soon or possibly lose control of the issue.

    To many, Cuomo has lately looked unsure about fracking, telling reporters in February that a final decision was "a few months away." Now it is June, and Cohen says the pressure is picking up to settle the matter by the fall at the latest.

    "Anything past that, if he gets into the winter months without a decision, it will just look like he's dodging it," Cohen said.

    But Cohen also suspects that Cuomo has exactly the right formula in mind. He pointed out that nearby states looking to profit from gas deposits in the sprawling Marcellus Shale have proceeded with haste and left many with the impression that producers were dictating the agenda there. In Ohio and Pennsylvania specifically, Cohen said the rush to permit during the early days of the recent gas boom, before prices tanked and left developers waffling, created a kind of Wild West that Cuomo has avoided.

    "I think he's doing the right thing," Cohen said. "Carefully and thoughtfully is the correct thing to do."

    Cohen added that he personally has evolved on the question of fracking. At the outset of the regulatory process over permits, in 2008, Cohen was skeptical, but after researching the topic in detail he now believes Cuomo can position himself where no other politician has managed to position himself: as pro-development and pro-jobs with tough rules meant to protect water supplies and limit local footprints.

    Cohen also says activists have set up a false test for Cuomo as they look to ban fracking outright, because they are "debating doing this against doing nothing." He said the planet is in a transition stage from fossil fuels to something else, but while that "something else" is not yet determined, the reality is humans need energy.

    "The question is what is the least bad thing you can do," he said. "If you're going to have hydrofracking, do it in a way that's as careful as you can possibly be."

    Cohen added: "I don't see anyone turning their lights off."

    Separating from Father Mario

    Jeffrey Stonecash, a political scientist at Syracuse University, agreed that Cuomo appears to have managed the situation well so far. He noted that the upstate New York economy has been stagnant for decades, and rural areas have shed population and farmers, but to him, Cuomo is looking a lot more presidential than rival politicians or former heads of state.

    "It is tricky, and taking your time is probably a good idea," he said. "Not everyone is like George [W.] Bush and thinking from the gut."

    Still, Cohen returned to the notion that Cuomo could be interpreted as dodging the issue if he is not careful. He said an air of indecision is precisely what Cuomo has always tried his best to avoid, to distance himself from his father, who famously had an airplane waiting to take him to the New Hampshire primary in 1992 but ultimately never ran for president after years of public fretting.

    "It's not so much which way he decides, but if he doesn't decide, then they'll be comparing him to his father," Cohen said. "I think he needs to be careful about that. He has managed to avoid any impression of indecision so far."

    In the end, Benjamin said he is surprised the issue has emerged as "consequential nationally," but he believes it has because it tests a Democrat's capacity to be seen as a tough reform candidate who can balance his liberal base with economic pressures in his state. And energy issues, always difficult locally, have consistently ranked higher on the national scale, he said.

    "It's a real test of political skill," Benjamin said. "I don't see the way this matter resolves clearly. I think it's very much up in the air as to whether we do it or not do it."

    "A lot of it depends on what they actually come up with," added Cohen, who seems to think Cuomo will lift the moratorium combined with strict oversight. "I think fair-minded people will say whatever they come up with is better than what anybody else has done."

    The bright side, if there is one to NY delaying land owner rights, is the fact that landowners have grown better educated on the dangers related to gas leasing. Thats about it folks!  The down side is that there are no gas companies knocking on our doors making any offers at all. We have huge opportunity costs that will never be recovered. Lost farms, lost property, lost dreams, unpaid college bills and the list goes on. Keep your focus folks , do not let up until our rights are restored! On the bright side; We have been hearing some hopeful little whispers and maybe that is daylight at the end of that tunnel. JLCpulse

    This article could be about any number of upstate New York Cities which have been struggling for years with the decline caused by high taxes pushed down by Albany onto county tax payers. I would love to read a similar article about Binghamton, or Elmira or Corning. Change steel to glass or the defence industry. JLCpulse

    By Brian Louis - Jun 11, 2012 12:00 AM ET IN Bloomberg

    The clamor of bulldozers on a patch of former farmland in rural Carroll County, Ohio makes Glenn Enslen, the county’s economic development director, feel “like an eight-year-old kid on Christmas morning,” he said.

    The 330-acre tract of Appalachian property is being transformed into an industrial park. The first tenant will be MRC Global Inc. (MRC), a Houston-based pipe and valve supplier that will serve Ohio’s emerging oil and natural-gas industry.

    Pedestrians walk by a van with a painted cityscape of downtown Youngstown on the side in Youngstown, Ohio. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

    Youngstown was once a booming city at the center of the steel industry. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

    A leasing sign sits in front of an office building in downtown Youngstown. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg

    Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is bringing new development to the Midwest, creating demand for commercial real estate in the region even as landlords struggle to pay off earlier property loans. Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK), the second- largest U.S. natural-gas supplier, has acquired $2 billion in land leases comprising 1.35 million acres in Ohio and contributing to the beginnings of an economic recovery in the state. The company has leased or bought real estate in towns including Canton and St. Clairsville, according to Pete Kenworthy, a company spokesman.

    “Thank God for the oil and gas business,” said Tim Putnam, president of Putnam Properties Inc., a commercial real estate company based in Canton, about 60 miles south of Cleveland. “It’s created a lot of optimism among people that live here.”

    Ohio, which had the seventh-highest commercial property delinquency rate in the country in December, according to Moody’s Investors Service, is already showing signs of improvement. The delinquency rate on commercial mortgages packaged and sold as bonds in Ohio dropped to 8.74 percent in June from 11.28 percent a year earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Late Payments

    Late payments for commercial loans in Youngstown, about halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, declined to 5.69 percent in June from 7.75 percent a year earlier.

    The effect of the new investment isn’t yet evident in the Midwest more broadly. For the region that includes Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana, debt at least 30 days delinquent jumped to a record 11.26 percent as of June 1 from 10.44 percent a year earlier, according to Trepp LLC. The rate was 9.68 percent in June 2010. The U.S. rate in May was a record 10 percent, the New York-based mortgage data firm said.

    Ohio stands to benefit from the Utica Shale, a geological formation that may hold as much as 5.5 billion barrels of oil and 15.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Since December 2009, 236 drilling permits have been issued in the Shale, with 72 wells drilled as of the week of May 27, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources data. About 35 percent of those permits were in Carroll County.

    Energy Production

    Energy production in the state may add $4.9 billion to Ohio’s economy in 2014, according to a study by researchers from Cleveland State University, Ohio State University and Marietta College. The study was sponsored by the Ohio Shale Coalition, a group of businesses and chambers of commerce that support energy industry growth in the state.

    Horizontal drilling and fracking, the techniques being applied to the Utica Shale, reversed decades-long declines in U.S. oil and gas production, according to the Energy Department in Washington. Crude oil output last year was 15 percent higher than 2008, when production touched a 62-year low. Last year’s gas production was a record 28.6 trillion cubic feet, up 17 percent in a decade.

    Ohio Jobs

    Estimates for how many Ohio jobs will come from the industry’s growth vary widely. More than 204,000 jobs will be created directly or indirectly by the oil and gas business by 2015 in the state, according to a study last year by Kleinhenz & Associates for the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, an industry-funded group. A December report by Ohio State University put the estimate at 20,000 jobs over a four-year period.

    The economic benefits of oil and gas drilling are spreading from places such as Carroll County northwest to Canton and northeast to Youngstown as hotels increase occupancy and energy companies set up operations.

    “We are getting a recovery and that’s the bright side,” said George Zeller, an independent economic research analyst in Cleveland, said of Ohio’s economy. “The downside is the recovery is way too slow.”

    Youngstown was once a booming city at the center of the steel industry.

    Almost everyone in the area had a link to steel, said Anthony Cafaro Jr., 37, co-president of Cafaro Co., a closely held owner and manager of 30 million square feet of commercial real estate in 11 states.

    “There wasn’t anyone that wasn’t impacted by the downfall of the steel industry here,” Cafaro said in an interview. “My generation, unfortunately, a large percentage has left the area and may never come back.”

    Lost Population

    Youngstown has lost more than half the population of 168,330 it had in 1950, culminating in Youngstown Sheet & Tube’s announced shutdowns in 1977. The city had 66,982 residents in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. Over the past 22 years, the Youngstown area’s unemployment rate rose as high as 13.5 percent in 2009. It was 7.8 percent as of April, the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Any economic activity in areas like Youngstown and Steubenville, which were hit hard during the recession, will be welcome.

    “They tended to suffer a great deal more than the rest of the state,” said Jim Newton, chief economic adviser to Columbus-based Commerce National Bank. “There, even a modest amount of activity over a period of years will seem like a godsend.”

    Youngstown Production

    France’s Vallourec SA (VK), which makes products used for a number of industries, including energy, will produce steel tubes in Youngstown this year at its new $650 million mill and create 350 jobs, according to Vallourec. The tubes will be used for fracking, which injects water, sand and chemicals underground to free trapped gas.

    A unit of Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT), a Geneva-based oilfield services company, bought a 153,708-square-foot building and more than 20 acres of land in Youngstown in April for $3.4 million, according to commercial property broker NAI Spring of Canton.

    “The business has been phenomenal over the last six months,” said Dan Spring, principal of NAI Spring. “The market doesn’t have any product left.”

    Risks abound for the new industry, which has grown as the price of crude oil make it worthwhile to undertake more expensive fracking.

    Crude Prices

    A significant amount of oil assets across North America become uneconomic when West Texas intermediate crude falls below $65 a barrel, said Manuj Nikhanj, head of energy research at Investment Technology Group Inc. in Calgary.

    Chesapeake has the most rigs running in Ohio of any energy company, Nikhanj said. The company has a joint venture with France’s Total SA (FP) in the Utica Shale under which Total has committed to pay $1.4 billion of Chesapeake’s drilling costs.

    “There’s still questions over what the economics are going to look like,” Nikhanj said. “That would relate to anyone active in the region.”

    Chesapeake agreed to sell pipeline assets in three transactions of more than $4 billion and had two directors tender their resignations after shareholders rejected their re- election on June 8. The company has come under criticism as gas prices plunged to a 10-year low and revelations that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon had intertwined his personal business with that of the company’s key financiers.

    The company has 337,481 net acres for sale in Ohio. That acreage is “outside its core focus area” and “higher risk,” Nikhanj said. Chesapeake will remain active in the region because of the venture with Total (TOT), Nikhanj said.

    Youngstown Changing

    Downtown Youngstown is starting to change. New businesses are opening, including Joe Maxx Coffee Co., a coffee bar run by Mike Avey, 50, who grew up in nearby Warren. Avey said 20 percent to 30 percent of his customers are affiliated with companies in the energy industry.

    “None of these people were here a year, a year-and-a-half ago,” Avey said.

    Hotel revenue rose 24 percent and occupancy gained 19.6 percent in the Youngstown area in April compared with a year earlier, according to data from Smith Travel Research Inc., based in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

    “The shale is just part of the puzzle,” said Michael Moliterno, the general manager of the Holiday Inn in Boardman, which is about five miles from Youngstown. “Overall we’re doing well.”

    Shale Tavern

    South of Youngstown, business is surging at Michal Naffah’s Days Inn in Lisbon. Naffah, who bought the hotel more than three years ago, said business is 10 times what it was when he acquired it. Occupancy is 80 percent, he said.

    When he acquired the property he also bought an adjacent restaurant and kept it shuttered. He reopened the restaurant at the end of last year. His wife came up with the new name: Shale Tavern & Grille.

    “When everything started to hit with the shale boom, that’s when we opened,” Naffah said.

    Cafaro Co. announced plans in May to build a 103-room Residence Inn by Marriott at its Eastwood Mall Complex in Niles, about 12 miles from Youngstown. The project in Trumbull County had already been planned before the rise of the energy industry in the area.

    “Things just seem to have come out well in terms of timing,” Cafaro said. “The economy, after literally decades of stagnation and some period of decline, we’re now seeing an upswing.”

    Leasing Property

    Trumbull County’s economy likely will get a boost from landowners leasing property. BP Plc (BP), Europe’s second-biggest oil company, agreed to lease 84,000 acres in Trumbull in March.

    “For the first time in my lifetime -- people are starting, and they’re just starting -- they’re focusing on the positive,” Cafaro said. “There is a growing percentage of people who are seeing the glass is half full.”

    MRC Global, which will occupy the first parcel in the 330- acre site in Carroll County, plans to lease a 15,000-square-foot warehouse and have a 13-acre pipe yard there, according to Will James, the company’s vice president of corporate development and investor relations.

    These developments are transforming the area, said Enslen, the county’s economic development chief.

    “It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s going to change the entire face of this community.”

    The oil and gas boom has arrived in the Upper Ohio River Valley, and landowners wise to concerns of “fracking” are learning how to get the most from their mineral leases.

    Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012, 8:13 PM     Updated: Monday, March 12, 2012, 8:21 AM

    Syracuse, N.Y. -- The Auburn City Council voted last week to overturn its ban on gas drilling waste water at its treatment plant and to start taking the water again.

    Two days earlier, the Niagara Falls City Council had voted to ban all natural gas drilling activity in the city, including allowing trucks to move drilling waste water to the regional treatment plant.

    The differing approaches demonstrate once again that dealing with drilling waste water is going to be one of the biggest environmental and political challenges the state will face if it decides to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, to start in New York.

    The massive environmental report on hydrofracking released last year by the state Department of Environmental Conservation projects that hydrofracking could use 9 billion gallons of water a year. Much of that water will be re-used by drillers, but the rest must be treated or injected into underground wells.

    In Auburn, the city had been taking waste water from traditional gas wells for years before the council banned that practice last July. A new council overturned that ban last week, and the city plans to resume taking that waste water again.

    “That’s the water we’ve been taking it in for over 14 years, and there’s been no damage at all to the plant,” said new city councilor Peter Ruzicka, who voted to start accepting the water again.

    The resolution adopted last week specifically excludes hydrofracking waste water, and councilors say the plant’s permit from the state forbids it anyway.

    The Cayuga Anti-Fracking Alliance pushed for last year’s ban, and was at last week’s meeting to protest the lifting of the ban.

    “I don’t want to see Auburn, New York, become the toxic waste water capital of New York state,” said Terry Cuddy, a member of the alliance. “That’s what would happen if they opened up the door an inch. If they open it up an inch, they can open it up a mile.”

    City Manager Doug Shelby said the gas drilling waste water made up less than one-half of 1 percent of the treatment plant water flow.

    In hydrofracking, wells are drilled thousands of feet below the ground and extended thousands of feet horizontally in layers of shale. Drillers inject millions of gallons of water and chemicals at high pressure to fracture the rock and release natural gas.

    Those shale layershave high levels of salt — several times that of sea water — and radioactive metals that come back up with the drilling water, said Brian Rahm, a research assistant at the New York State Water Resources Institute. Only two public treatment plants in the state — Niagara Falls and North Tonawanda — are capable of treating that waste, Rahm said. Those two plants have a special chemical process to handle that waste, unlike standard sewage-processing plants, he said.

    “Biological-driven plants are very good at removing nutrients like sewage from the water,” Rahm said, “but they’re not designed or equipped to handle high-strength waste in terms of metals and salts and things like that.”

    The Onondaga County waste water plant doesn’t have the technology to process hydrofracking waste water and doesn’t plan to get it, said Tom Rhoads, commissioner of the county’s Department of Water Environment Protection.

    “It’s not something that’s on our radar screen,” Rhoads said.

    The Niagara Falls council voted last week to ban all natural gas activity in the city, including the transport of waste water. The city does not run the treatment plant, but council President Sam Fruscione said the transportation ban will essentially prevent the independent Niagara Falls Water Board from treating fracking waste.

    “They’d have to bring it in by helicopter,” Fruscione said.

    Fruscione said the tourist city, still dogged by the Love Canal pollution scandal of the 1970s, wants nothing to do with potential toxins.

    “The last thing I need is 200 trucks a day carrying waste in a city that’s growing itself back into a tourist attraction,” he said.

    The DEC report says drillers must have a plan to dispose of waste water, but doesn’t say what those plans must contain.

    DEC is still finishing the report, and expects to issue regulations on hydrofracking sometime this year.

    5/29/2012 7:45 AM On Chesapeake website

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently conducting a national study to determine if hydraulic fracturing has any impact on drinking water sources. As part of a larger study, the EPA is conducting five focused retrospective studies in separate areas across the country including Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

    Samples were taken in Bradford County during the study’s first round of sampling in October and November 2011. In a collaborative effort, Chesapeake Energy Corporation consultants collected split samples with the EPA from 15 individual drinking water sources for analysis by accredited laboratories. Chesapeake then commissioned WESTON Solutions, Inc. to critically evaluate the results and compare them with more than 4,000 historic and baseline groundwater samples in the area. Approximately 310 of these samples came from the United States Geologic Survey’s public databases and predate any Marcellus Shale natural gas development activity in the area. Based on the data evaluated, WESTON has concluded these drinking water sources have not been impacted by Marcellus Shale natural gas development activity – including hydraulic fracturing.

    In advance of a public release, these findings were submitted to the EPA, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and landowners involved in this study. Chesapeake hopes the EPA will find WESTON’s report useful in meeting Congress’ request for independent sources of information to be included in the agency’s influential scientific assessment regarding hydraulic fracturing.

    Please follow the link below to view WESTON's complete findings.

    WESTON has more than 60 worldwide offices and has more than 50 years of experience delivering integrated sustainable solutions for environmental restoration, property redevelopment, design/build construction, green buildings and clean energy.

    Throughout its 55-year history, the company has conducted thousands of environmental assessment studies for industries, state and local governments, and federal agencies. These studies incorporate the use of geographical information systems, groundwater models and surface geophysical techniques to aid in the understanding of site conditions.​​​

    Frankly I cannot imagine a mature adult wasting their vote for Tarik Abdelazim this fall. His only experience is under a mayor with less than stellar performance and an abundance of far out ideas and failed actions related to the implementation of those wasted dreams. This county has been in decline for the last 40 years and this guy has no viable plan for tomorrow much less the next 4 years. We need creative realistic thinkers who are wise and mature enough to look at all options not just those bought and paid for by the green industry. Our future depends on a well rounded thoughtful approach to problem solving. You can rest assured that just like other short thinking leaders from the past in Broome County, with Mr Abdelazim you will be buried in taxes and receive less services if you choose to waste your vote in November. Lets let the DEC make our decisions based on science and facts. Enough of the fear, hyperbole and falsehoods. I really have no faith at all that a politician can make the best decision for all, only the best most profitable for themselves Pay attention get involved. JLCpulse

    BINGHAMTON -- In the month since he declared his candidacy for Broome County executive, Tarik Abdelazim's cautionary stance against hydraulic fracturing has been perhaps the most clearly defined piece of his platform.

    That was underscored Wednesday afternoon, when the Democratic candidate and other speakers gathered outside Government Plaza in Binghamton for a rally urging state lawmakers to fund a public health assessment of the natural gas extraction technique.

    "The primary responsibility of all of our public officials is to protect public heath and safety," Abdelazim said. "So I see no reason why we don't take the same attention and consideration in protecting the health of our loved ones as we are protecting the health of our environment."

    The speakers Wednesday also included Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan, local physician Niru Anne and several anti-fracking activists.

    Participants upbraided Albany lawmakers, including Sen. Thomas W. Libous, R-Binghamton, for allowing funding for a health assessment to be pulled from the state's 2012-13 budget in March.

    "We are seriously, here, considering approving a process in New York State when we don't know the impacts," Ryan said.

    Abdelazim urged Libous and to support a bill pending in the state Assembly that would restore funding for the health impact study.

    "This is going to be a decision determined not by folks up in Albany, not by the special interests, but by the people," he said. "We need to provide them with the information so that they can make a decision about how they want to proceed with their communities."

    In a brief statement Wednesday, Libous said politicians should not determine how the state moves forward with fracking.

    "We should let the scientists and experts at the DEC do their work to make sure this process moves forward in an environmentally safe way," he said.

    A thoughtful and timely letter by a young man to the editor of the Corning Leader that may or may not be published by them. These words of wisdom need to be spoken or shared  over and over again to the environmental extremists, their blind followers and the politicians who listen and cater to them. They should be picked up and spread to and by the long suffering landowners who need to finally find their voices and get going on defending their rights. By the gas companies who seem terminally muted as their business model is evicerated by the live bullets being shot at them in rapid fire, because of their excessive financial success and their reckless and careless actions in the past while harvesting gas and oil. We as a country need to understand the desperate and errosive nature of these divisive times and get our counrty back to one of greatness and inclusion rather than one of exclusion and selfishness. JLCpulse

    Over the past four years, I have observed many pro- horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic fracturing speakers who have given the facts on this process of the extraction of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. They focused on the scientific research derived from drilling in other parts of the nation, as well as the economic benefits and the increased energy independence that come with drilling for natural gas.

    What I have observed from anti-hydraulic fracturing speakers can be summarized in the following statement: “Don’t trust anyone.” Recently, I witnessed an anti-hydraulic speaker at a seminar tell the members of an audience, that when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, to not trust their neighbors, any elected officials, the police, the Department of Environmental Conservation, or any scientist who has viewpoints that conflict with her own.

    I have always placed confidence in the armed forces, police, and others who are charged with protecting and serving American citizens. I have also always placed my trust in the DEC. No melodramatic “scientist” will ever succeed in changing my common sense.  Aside from being a state regulatory agency that is comprised of scientists who have been studying horizontal drilling and high volume hydraulic- fracturing for over four years, the DEC is also a law enforcement agency. We may not agree with everything that the DEC does, but if nothing else, this organization does deserve to be trusted to do what is best for our environment.

    Anti-hydraulic fracturing activists habitually claim that we cannot trust any person who speaks in favor of hydraulic fracturing, as he may have been “bought out” by the industry. If this is so, how can anti-hydraulic fracturing activists trust anyone who speaks against hydraulic fracturing? He may have been “bought out” by the renewable energy industry. Don’t be naïve. The “green” energy industry is just like any other; profit, or under these circumstances, taxpayer subsidy, is of great importance. These “green” companies also have an impact on the environment. For instance, research rare earth elements. You will soon discover how these essential compounds of wind turbines, solar panels, and electric cars are produced in nations where environmental regulations are nonexistent.

    At a time when other members of my generation are living in boxes in an attempt to occupy Wall Street, a biblical verse comes to mind. “He that keepeth the law is a wise son.” The United States of America was founded on principles of trust, respect, and honesty. When Americans abide by these principles, America is prosperous. I refuse to believe that we, as Americans, have entered an era where this is no longer so.        -Chad A. Vitale   Troupsburg NY

    EID Special to the Denver Post 5/31/12


    A small group of environmental activists made the news last week with a petition against natural gas development in Erie. About 10 people, including the activists and their children, delivered copies of the petition to Encana Corporation's U.S. headquarters in Denver and Gov. John Hickenlooper's office, and made sure TV cameras came along for the ride. The petition included about 21,000 names gathered over the Internet, which sure sounds like a big number. There's just one problem: almost no one who signed the petition actually lives in Erie.


    All told, only about 100 Erie residents lent their name to petition, roughly one half of 1 percent of the town's population. In fact, hundreds more online signatures came from outside the country — Germany, Spain, Greece and Australia — than from inside the town. Erie's neighboring communities weren't persuaded, either, because barely 1,000 names came from the rest of Colorado. So where did all those other names come from?


    The top three states were California, New York and Massachusetts, which together accounted for almost 9,000 names. Why so many from outside Colorado? Maybe it's because Erie Rising, the group that's trying to scare people in the Front Range suburbs by demonizing the oil and gas industry, called in a Washington-based pressure group called Food & Water Watch to run the campaign.


    Erie Rising's leaders have spent lots of time talking to out-of-state activists and donors lately. They've negotiated partnerships with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, Water Defense in New York City, and the San Francisco-based Sierra Club, and endorsements from actor Mark Ruffalo and singer Natalie Merchant.


    Good for Erie Rising, you might think. But winning the approval of celebrities and out-of-state activists has come at a price. The remarkably low number of local names on the petition proves Erie Rising has lost credibility where it really counts: in the actual town it claims to represent.


    Back in February, the group damaged Erie's reputation as "a great place to live, work and play" by falsely claiming the town has dangerously high air pollution. Erie town officials were then bullied into supporting a temporary moratorium on new oil and gas wells. But they later discovered the air-pollution claims were made "politically and inaccurately," and there was no danger, Erie Mayor Joe Wilson recently told The Daily Camera. Today, Wilson says, Erie's residents are hearing more facts and "we're seeing them becoming more accepting of oil and gas operations."


    That's a flat-out rejection of Erie Rising's attacks against the men, women and families of Colorado's oil and gas industry. Erie Rising portrays them as outsiders who don't belong, don't contribute to the local community and, worst of all, don't care about children's health. That's complete nonsense. The first oil well was developed in this state 150 years ago, and Colorado has been a leading energy producer ever since. More than 40,000 Colorado families get their paychecks directly from the oil and gas industry. Those paychecks total more than $3 billion a year, and the industry generates more than $1 billion in revenue for local and state governments, according to the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.


    As for children's health, Erie Rising's petition targets a planned Encana well site more than five football fields away from an elementary school. The group has made all kinds of alarmist claims to scare parents and their children, but provided no facts to support them. Here are the facts: Encana's wells were lawfully permitted under one of the nation's toughest oil and gas regulatory regimes. The setback from the school is hundreds of yards wider than required, and 95 percent of well site emissions must be captured. Even so, the company is taking the further step of drilling and completing the well during summer vacation when school's out.


    Here's the thing: the men and women who produce Colorado's oil and gas have families, too. They aren't outsiders — they live there, work there and send their kids to school there. Which makes you wonder: How many people who signed Erie Rising's petition do you suppose would even be able to find the town on a map?

    by By Jim Efstathiou Jr. - May 23, 2012 3:04 PM ET in Bloomberg

    A decision to permit hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York state will trigger a cool response from drillers, the state’s environmental regulator said.

    Low natural-gas prices have dulled interest in New York’s gas reserves, Joseph Martens, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said at a conference today. The agency is reviewing more than 66,700 comments on a draft plan for drilling in the state’s portion of a geological formation called the Marcellus Shale.

    Since New York began developing gas-drilling rules in July 2008, prices have plunged more than 80 percent, sinking to a decade low $1.902 per million British thermal units on April 19. During that time, Pennsylvania and Ohio allowed producers such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) and Talisman Inc. (TLM) to drill, attracting billions of dollars in investment.

    “I don’t think there’s going to be a flood of drillers coming into New York,” Martens said at a conference at Columbia Law School in New York City. “The reality is, with the price of natural gas so low, that if we put out the regulations and move forward with the process in New York it will start slowly.”

    The state is considering rules for high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water and sand are forced underground to break up shale rock and free trapped gas. Part of the Marcellus Shale, which may contain a two-decade supply of gas for the U.S., extends into New York state.

    Clean Water Threats

    Environmental groups say the process threatens clean air and water and are seeking to block drilling. More than 20 towns in the state have adopted laws to ban drilling, according to Karen Edelstein, a geographic information-systems consultant in Ithaca, New York.

    Martens said nothing submitted in public comments on the proposed rule suggests fracking should be banned. Draft guidelines released in July proposed buffer zones between wells and water sources such as the aquifer that supplies New York City.

    “The conclusion at the end of the draft was that we could do this safely in New York, and I haven’t seen anything yet to change that conclusion,” Martens said.

    The review will take months to complete, Martens said.

    Fracking has been used to drill more than 4,400 wells in Pennsylvania since 2009. Energy companies spent about $11.5 billion in the state in 2010, including $346 million in royalties to property owners who leased their mineral rights, according to a July report from the Pennsylvania State University College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

    In Ohio, companies including Chesapeake, Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) are drilling in the Utica Shale, which is deeper than Marcellus. The Utica shale will support 65,680 jobs and add $4.9 billion to Ohio’s economic output by 2014, according to a Feb. 28 study by the Ohio Shale Coalition.

    Natural gas for June delivery rose 3 cents to settle at $2.737 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

    Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 9:00 AM     Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 10:25 AM

    By Jackson Citizen Patriot staff Michigan Live

    In response to a letter, “Fracking is a new process, and it's unsafe,” I feel compelled to respond to the misinformation and scare campaigns of those against hydraulic fracturing.

    Hydraulic fracturing, the process of creating hairline cracks in tight rock formations so oil and gas can flow to a well, has been used to enhance oil and gas recovery since 1947. More than 1 million wells in the U.S. have used the process, including more than 12,000 in Michigan. No cases have been documented where hydraulic fracturing has contaminated groundwater. Yes, there have been isolated cases of contamination from improper well design but none in Michigan.

    The most important area of protecting water resources is from the wellhead down through the freshwater zone along with extra depth for added safety. This is accomplished by using multiple layers of steel pipe and cement through the freshwater zone. Michigan requires a minimum of two layers of pipe and cement at least 100 feet below this zone and many times farther if the state deems necessary.

    Regarding the “toxic” chemicals used deep in the well, these are the same “toxic” chemicals we use in our homes every day. The industry is required to provide Material Safety Data Sheets to the Department of Environmental Quality of all materials used in the process.

    What is new in the energy debate is the greens have latched on to hydraulic fracturing as the new attack against fossil fuels. The shale gas revolution has helped unlock more than 100 years worth of U.S. natural gas resources and driven prices from more than $10 per thousand cubic feet in 2008 to just more than $2 today. God forbid the public realize the benefits of gas production, how can they then attain their goal of ending the use of fossil fuels?

    The Sierra Club recently announced its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign. I don’t know how we get beyond next winter without gas. Eighty percent of Michigan homes use natural gas for heat. Many more wish they had access to it. “Fracking” is used to maximize natural gas recovery in 80 percent of Michigan wells. It has been for more than 50 years with a stellar safety record. Our job is to keep producing oil and gas safely and provide the energy we need every day.



    — JOHN M. GRIFFIN, executive director

    Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan/Summit Township

    Houston Business Journal by Collin Eaton, Reporter

    Date: Thursday, May 24, 2012, 6:36am CDT

    The International Energy Agency says the shale gas boom in the U.S. has led to a domestic decline in carbon dioxide emissions as generators use more low-price natural gas over coal, the Financial Times reports.

    Greenhouse gas emissions, says the IEA, have dropped off nearly 5 million tons in five years, which is more than any other country the agency examined.

    The power energy has changed gears and seen a “major shift,” from using coal as a power source to using natural gas, and the transportation industry has become more fuel efficient, said Fatih Birol, chief economist for the international agency, according to the Financial Times.

    This means the explosion in U.S. shale gas production has caused a seismic change to the energy industry, cutting natural gas prices to its lowest points in a decade, according to the Financial Times.

    According to the publication, coal use dropped off 19 percent and gas use jumped 38 percent — a relevant figure because plants that run on gas produce half the carbon dioxide that a plant that runs on coal does.

    Study examines Pa. gas well violations and proposed rules in Empire State

    4:49 PM, May. 19, 2012  |
    A tanker truck heads south on state Route 328 leaving New York and entering Pensylvania. / JEFF RICHARDS / STAFF PHOTO

    The following information may come as bad news to the opponents of hydrofracking, but a study released last week by the University of Buffalo says gas drilling regulations under review in New York could help avoid or mitigate 25 "major" events that have taken place in Pennsylvania as a result of extracting natural gas from Marcellus Shale.

    I've said all along that I hoped New York was using Pennsylvania's mistakes as guides for what not to do. And apparently, it looks as if that's what has happened.

    "New York's current regulations would prevent or mitigate each of the identified major environmental events that occurred in Pennsylvania," said John P. Martin, the director of UB's Shale Resources and Society Institute. "It's important that states continue to learn from the regulatory experience -- both strengths and weaknesses -- of others."

    In putting together the study, UB's Shale Institute examined 2,988 violations, from nearly 4,000 natural gas wells, processed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from January 2008 through August 2011.

    They found that 1,844 of the violations, or 62 percent, were administrative and preventative in nature. The remaining 1,144 violations, or 38 percent, were environmental in nature. The environmental violations were the result of 845 events, with 25 classified as "major."

    The report defines major environmental events as site restoration failures, serious contamination of local water supplies, major land spills, blowouts, venting and gas migration.

    But the bright spot behind that dark cloud is this: The authors found that the percentage of environmental violations, when compared to the number of wells drilled in Pennsylvania, declined from 58.2 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2010. Furthermore, the number of environmental violations dropped to 26.5 percent during the first eight months of last year.

    The report suggests that Pennsylvania's regulatory approach has been effective at maintaining a low probability of serious environmental events and in reducing the frequency of environmental violations.

    The study, its lead author Tim Considine says, presents a compelling case that Pennsylvania's oversight of oil and gas regulation has been effective. While prior research has reviewed state regulations anecdotally, there is now comprehensive data that demonstrates that state regulation coupled with improvements in industry practices results in a low risk of an environmental event occurring in shale development. And those risks, Considine says, continue to diminish year after year.

    Robert Watson, the third author who put together the study, drops the biggest bomb of all when he says the remedial actions taken by operators largely mitigated the environmental impacts of environmental events. Only a handful of events resulted in environmental impacts that have not yet been mitigated, the retired Penn State University professor said.

    There are undoubtedly a gaggle of naysayers out there who, after reading this, will say UB's Shale Institute is being bankrolled by the drilling industry. They are also likely to say it lacks credibility for any number of reasons.

    However -- and this is something I've said before -- a day doesn't go by where groups on either side of the fracking debate flood my e-mail inbox with, for lack of a better word, propaganda advocating their respective stances.

    For example, the Independent Petroleum Association of America is critical of the Environmental Protection Agency's draft report that states groundwater contamination near Pavillion, Wyo., was caused by hydrofacking. But I wouldn't expect the IPAA to say anything different.

    On the other hand, it was recently announced that 55 major investment organizations and institutional investors, with nearly $1 trillion in assets under management, have come together to support "best practices" for the fracking of shale gas. I'm betting the group is looking more closely at the value of their investments rather than protecting the environment.

    But the UB study is prepared by a neutral party -- three academics who have crunched the numbers and come up with their results. And what's become a debate largely fueled by emotion, I see the study as a welcomed breath of unbiased fresh air.

    G. Jeffrey Aaron is the business writer for the Star-Gazette. His column about business happenings and issues appears weekly on the Sunday business page. To suggest a column topic or story idea, call him at (607) 271-8288 or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    May 20, 2012 10:39 AM PST
    Associated Press
    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - When Dan Fitzsimmons looks across the Susquehanna River and sees the flares of Pennsylvania gas wells, he thinks bitterly of the riches beneath his own land locked up by the heated debate that has kept hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, out of New York.

    "I go over the border and see people planting orchards, buying tractors, putting money back in their land," said Fitzsimmons, a Binghamton landowner who heads the 70,000-member Joint Landowners Coalition of New York. "We'd like to do that too, but instead we struggle to pay the taxes and to hang onto our farms."

    While New York state has had a moratorium on shale gas development for four years while the Department of Environmental Conservation completes an environmental impact review, thousands of wells have gone into production in Pennsylvania. Both states, along with Ohio and West Virginia, overlie the vast Marcellus Shale deposit, which has been made productive by the advent of horizontal drilling and fracking.

    In the middle of the debate over whether the gas unlocked by fracking is worth the risks of drinking water contamination and adverse health effects are the landowners who must decide whether to sell their mineral rights. Many are dairy farmers and many struggle under heavy debt.

    While Fitzsimmons and others in his coalition look south and see the land of milk and honey, other farmers point to Pennsylvania as a case history for how the shale gas boom can be disastrous to agriculture.

    Pennsylvania dairy farmers Carol French and Carolyn Knapp travel to other shale gas states giving talks on gas drilling. They tell of methane-contaminated wells; contractors destroying valuable timber for access roads; pipelines making cropland inaccessible; years of agricultural production lost and uncompensated; road damage that isolates families for weeks.

    "I never in my wildest dreams envisioned the industrialization that comes along with this process," Knapp told an audience in Pittsboro, N.C.

    Siobhan Griffin, who raises grass-fed cows in Westville, N.Y. and sells organic cheese, doesn't see gas as the answer. Rather, she fears for her cows if drilling comes to neighboring leased land. She points to Pennsylvania, where 28 cows were quarantined from sale after they drank wastewater, and Louisiana, where 17 cows died after drinking contaminated water.

    Pennsylvania environmental regulators cited East Resources with a violation in 2010 in connection with the state Agriculture Department's quarantine. Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality fined Chesapeake Energy and Schlumberger Technology $22,000 each in connection with the 2010 cow deaths.

    "I can't blame dairy farmers for signing," Griffin said, "because of the cheap food policy in this country. Farmers are stuck in the middle. They don't make enough margin to pay their bills."

    While conventional dairy farms struggle, sustainable agriculture is growing, thanks to demand from New York City. Ken Jaffe raises grass-fed beef in the western Catskills and sells it to co-ops and high-end restaurants in the city, 160 miles to the southeast. He said gas drilling could destroy the livelihood of thousands of small farmers who cater to that market.

    The Park Slope Food Cooperative, which buys upward of $3 million worth of products from upstate farms, has told farmers its members won't buy products from any area that allows fracking, because they fear contamination. Chefs for the Marcellus, a group of restaurateurs, is calling for a ban on fracking.

    Members of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York passed a resolution in January calling for a ban on fracking.

    But the 30,000-member New York Farm Bureau supports natural gas development "as long as it can be done safely," said spokesman Jeff Williams. "We've been working with DEC to get them to craft the strongest regulations in the nation."

    Landowner coalitions say they're not relying solely on the state to protect their land, but have built extensive protections into their leases.

    "I turned down an offer of $700,000 because the lease was really bad," said Jim Worden, who raises cows, corn, soybeans and oats near Binghamton. "We won't sign a lease that jeopardizes our family's future. It's not so much about money as about protecting yourself and the environment."

    Fitzsimmons and other coalition members traveled to Albany recently to proclaim the rights of landowners to profit from their mineral resources and seek a halt to a growing movement of local drilling bans.

    Dairy farmer Jennifer Huntington in Otsego County sued the town of Middlefield over one such ban because it prevented a planned conventional gas well on her land. A judge upheld the ban but Huntington plans to appeal.

    "We would have used the royalties to update the anaerobic digester that we installed in 1984," Huntington said, referring to technology that produces methane fuel from manure. "We would have purchased a better oil seed press to more efficiently press soybeans for biodiesel. We would have invested in our farm, our land, and our employees."

    With gas prices at record lows, Worden doesn't expect drilling to expand rapidly in New York even if the DEC decides to allow fracking. If he can't profit from gas, he said he'll find another way to make ends meet.

    "It's a struggle, you know, but you just do what you need to do," Worden said. "You sell some trees, do firewood, or do some work for somebody else. Same as we always have."
    BY JOHNNY WILLIAMS (Staff Writer) in Daily Review
    Published: May 17, 2012

    Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2012:05:15 14:10:47

    Review Photo/Johnny Williams

    The Pennsylvania Game Commission is currently looking to lease the lands of State Game Lands 36, which is located in Monroe and Overton Townships, for the development of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

    The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently announced that it would be accepting bids from natural gas companies to lease State Game Lands 36, which is located across Monroe and Overton Townships and consists of over 3,177 acres, for the development of natural gas drilling.

    "We've found that state game lands can actually benefit two different ways from natural gas development," Press Secretary Jerry Feaser said. "We've discovered that well pad and pipeline construction can actually benefit wildlife in the long run. The initial excavation, construction and drilling processes are temporary habitat displacements. When the development enters the production stage, we've actually witnessed and photographed habitat improvements because well pads in production are meadow-like areas and pipelines provide a linear food supply.

    "The other benefit is for the game commission, itself, in the form of increased revenue," Feaser said. "Through lease payment and eventual royalty revenue, we'll be able to provide more funding to the game lands, hire more personnel and acquire more lands."

    However, according to the bid tract notice posted on the game commission's website for the public, State Game Lands 36 has portions of land that are zoned as "General Pre-approved Well Pad Locations."

    "Generally speaking, we avoid sensitive areas when it comes to the natural gas development on state game lands," Feaser said. "We try to avoid aspects of unique habitats like wetlands and steep slopes. We take proactive steps to avoid development on sensitive habitat locations and minimize environmental factors. We are always looking at all the factors."

    Those factors, according to the Marcellus Shale Drilling statement provided by Feaser, range from legal aspects like past leasing and if the Game Commission owns the oil and gas rights of state game lands or if there are changes in regulations to environmental impacts like water resources needed for hydraulic fracturing, pollution concerns and minimizing surface impacts.

    "In many instances, the Game Commission owns only the surface rights, and a separate party owns the oil and gas rights under State Game Lands," according to the statement provided by Feaser, "Under state law, the mineral estate is dominant over the surface estate, meaning that the mineral owner has the right to use the surface in a 'reasonable manner' to access their mineral reserve. Simply put, the Game Commission can't just say 'no' to those seeking to tap into the gas reserve that they own.

    "When the Game Commission owns the oil and gas rights, the agency exercises much greater control and oversight of drilling operations."

    Thus, while drilling permits are issued by the Department of Environmental Protection, an operator must still receive a clearance letter from the Game Commission "if the proposed drilling operation may impact a threatened or endangered species," according to the statement.

    The Game Commission will be accepting bids for State Game Lands 36 until 1:30 p.m. of May 30, at which point the bids will be opened and reviewed.

    The basic criteria for the bids, according to bid tract notice, is stated that the commission is requesting a five year primary term lease of $2,000 per net acre with 20 percent royalties.

    There is also a list of restrictions on the bid tract notice if the game lands were to be leased. Among those regulations is a provision that states that no drilling or other natural gas activity would be allowed on the opening days of many hunting seasons, as well the first three days of antlered or antlerless firearms deer season and all of the Saturdays of the firearms deer season.

    The complete list of regulations and provisions is available for the public on the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website at www.pgc.state.pa.us.

    Dear Friends, Coalition Leaders, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,

    While it may seem at times that New Yorkers will never be allowed to enjoy the benefits of developing our natural gas I hope that this email will give you new found hope and energy to keep pressing on in our fight for what we know is so right for our communities and our prosperity. Here are a few of our recent successes on your behalf…

    On Mothers’ Day I was interviewed on Fox & Friends at about 8:45 AM. This was a live national broadcast in which I was able to promote our interests and rights while debunking some of our opponents’ false information and hysterics. We hope to have a copy of the interview to post to the website. Almost immediately after the interview I started receiving positive and supportive responses from fellow landowners and supporters from across the nation telling me how right we are in our fight. I’m sure the same message is coming through to our elected and appointed leaders!

    Last Wednesday (May 9th) the JLCNY delivered our “Declaration of Landowner Rights” at a news conference in Albany. More specifically we reasserted our collective rights and expectations as landowners and community members who support safe and responsible natural gas development. This was attended by supportive politicians and widely reported by state and national level media. Unfortunately a few media sources tried to downplay our progress with the usual fear based allegations, while ignoring that they have long since been disproven, in misguided attempts to question our rights. However the majority of the mainstream media reported it for what it represented… landowners standing up for their right to develop their land safely and responsibly to the benefit, not detriment, of our communities and nation.

    On April 11th the JLCNY hosted the First Annual Natural Gas Career and Education Expo along with Broome Tioga Workforce and Broome Community College. This was a huge success attended by nearly 50 companies and an estimated 2,500 jobseekers. Oh yes, there were three “brave” protestors who did a great job of magnifying our point that those who support natural gas and the prosperity it will bring represent the silent majority in NY. But the best achievement of the Expo was showing NY’s leaders that community members beyond just landowners recognize that natural gas will revitalize their lives and towns, they want the jobs it will bring, and that the promise of jobs only needs a green light to become a reality!

    Additionally a study released Tuesday (May 15th) by the University of Buffalo’s Shale Resources and Society Institute concludes that state oversight of gas drilling has been effective at reducing environmental problems in Pennsylvania and will prevent major problems in New York if the state allows drilling to begin. Results of the study received national media coverage, with over 15 articles reporting the study. Here is a link to one of those articles...


    We are hoping that the SGEIS will still be released late this summer. We anticipate pushback from the anti-gas community. Just as the examples above show, we are going to continue to actively promote our interests and rights in our communities, across the state, and even nationally in new and unique ways that will put us over the top.

    What we have done so far has taken a lot of time, effort, and the support of your generous contributions to succeed. And succeed it has! However to put our plans into play and guarantee their success we need your continued support now more than ever. Will you please donate to keep us moving forward?

    It’s easy to do! Simply click on the donate button on the left of the JLCNY home page or mail your check or money order to…

    JLCNY, Inc.
    PO Box2839
    Binghamton, NY 13902

    We’re almost there, but we have to keep pressing on. Your donation today will help assure our victory.

    Finally, I wanted to alert you to the ongoing poll (link provided below). This is just one more example of the positive efforts we are supporting. Please vote and forward this link to anyone else who might be interested in casting a quick vote in favor of allowing hydrofracking in NYS.

    Should Cuomo Allow Hydrofracking in the State? [POLL]

    Warm Regards,
    Dan Fitzsimmons, President
    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.

    By DAN FITZSIMMONS, Commentary in Times Union.com

    Published 10:01 p.m., Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Too many people are unaware that the famous promise in the American Declaration of Independence — to protect "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" — was actually a last-minute edit. Thomas Jefferson had originally written, "Life, liberty and property," a phrase that more closely resembles our founding fathers' commitment to limited government influence on the people.

    While the other authors nixed property and went with the more pleasant-sounding pursuit of happiness, Jefferson's choice of words proves prophetic for many New Yorker's today.

    Right now, in excess of 70,000 New York residents are fighting to protect their property rights and prevent an effective government seizure of billions of dollars in personal wealth. Pick up any newspaper in the state, and you'll likely read about this government seizure. It's more commonly known as the debate over rules to develop natural gas in New York.

    Unfortunately, it's rare to find more than a few sentences of coverage addressing the property seizure aspect of the state's ongoing moratorium on gas development. The critical rights of landowners have become no more than a mandatory talking point any fair reporter must include — "landowners claim drilling will bring economic benefits."

    Last week, New York landowners changed that by announcing our own Declaration of Rights. This straightforward set of priorities will serve as a reminder to the public of the basic rights we're fighting to maintain as property owners and a yardstick to measure the actions of elected officials who have the power to take those rights from us.

    Our expectations are simple. First and foremost, we're asking for the right to develop our property in a timely manner. The state has barred access to permits for natural gas developers for more than four years already. There is simply no justification for further delay.

    Second, we're seeking a uniform statewide standard to govern development. Like highways, electricity production, or any other regional economic opportunity, successful development of natural gas resources requires cooperation at the state level.

    Third, we're asking for reasonable, science-based protections for our land and water. No one has more at stake in protecting and safeguarding New York's environment than landowners. We are the greatest benefactors of straightforward regulatory guidelines flexible enough to preserve our property rights, minimize land disruption and protect the environmental value of our property.

    I and my fellow mineral rights landowners believe most New Yorkers would view these as basic rights that go back to the very founding of this nation. They should apply to anyone's property.

    But politics and sensationalism have often trumped informed dialogue in this state. While we appreciate the efforts of Southern Tier legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fight for New York's best interests, the reality is our state is in last place in the region, and falling further behind neighboring states each day.

    Without progress soon, the hopeless delays we've experienced might put New York out of the race for competitive deals with natural gas companies. And, if that happens, both our state and landowners will be the losers. Now is the time to reaffirm the rights of landowners and New York property holders.

    Too often in this debate, our well-established rights have been put second to the self-serving interests of others. As ordinary workers, parents, and voters, we are part-time advocates for our rights. We don't have the funding or time to compete with our full-time opponents. And there are plenty — from politicians seeking votes, to film producers making a living off of controversy or actors seeking a cause, to wealthy organizations like the Park Foundation that serve the interests of just a few wealthy donors.

    Now we're setting the record straight as to what exactly New York mineral rights owners are asking for from state leaders. We hope our reasonable demands will be given greater attention.

    Dan Fitzsimmons is the president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

    Associated Press 5/15

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A study by the University at Buffalo's new shale gas institute concludes that state oversight of gas drilling has been effective at reducing environmental problems.

    The report released Tuesday examined almost 3,000 violations from nearly 4,000 gas wells in Pennsylvania since 2008. It found the percentage of environmental violations compared to the number of wells drilled fell from 58.2 percent in 2008 to 30.5 percent in 2010.

    It concludes that Pennsylvania's updated regulations have been effective and New York's current regulations would prevent the major environmental events identified in Pennsylvania. Drilling hasn't been allowed in New York since regulators began a review in 2008.

    Some opponents, who staged a large rally at the state capitol Tuesday, want a ban on drilling and say no regulations can protect the environment.

    Interesting article with some projections that may or may not come true, a good read none the less. Do good research before you make investment decisions. JLCpulse

    Submitted by Wall St. Daily using our Trefis Contributor Tool

    Natural gas is what my colleague and Wall Street Daily Chief Investment Strategist, Louis Basenese, calls “the most hated commodity in the world.”

    It’s a well-earned moniker, considering natural gas prices have dropped more than 50% from their 2011 peak.

    And with many meteorologists predicting a cool summer for the United States – after the fourth warmest winter in recorded history – natural gas prices could have even further to fall.

    The good news, though, is that once natural gas prices do bottom out, they’ll have nowhere to go but up. And they’ll probably find the floor sooner than you think.

    In fact, I’m predicting they’ll start bouncing back this fall.

    There are three big reasons why: production cuts, increased demand from power plants and widespread use in transportation.

    – Natural Gas Rebound Reason #1: Production Cuts

    First, natural gas companies and oil majors with expansive natural gas operations are cutting production to avoid adding to the supply glut already on the market.

    Exxon Mobil’s (NYSE: XOM) oil and natural gas production dropped 5% in the first quarter. ConocoPhillips’ (NYSE: COP) oil and gas output fell 3.8% in the first quarter. And EnCana (NYSE: ECA), Canada’s largest natural gas producer, said it plans to reduce its output by 600 million cubic feet a day.

    “There is a current weakness in market fundamentals due to an oversupply of natural gas and it is clear that a continued reduction of drilling activity will be required to restore market balance,” EnCana said in its earnings release.

    The number of rigs drilling for natural gas is indeed on the decline, having fallen 22% this year, according to Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI).

    And if mild summer weather adds to the supply glut, producers will be forced to cut back even further.

    – Natural Gas Rebound Reason #2: Increased Demand

    In the meantime, more and more power plants are switching to natural gas, which is cheaper and cleaner than both oil and coal.

    Gas costs for power plants fell to the equivalent of $1.3783 per million British thermal units (btu) less than coal last month – the biggest discount since coal futures began trading in 2001, according to Bloomberg data.

    Crude oil is eight times as expensive as natural gas when comparing equal amounts of energy produced, and would still be four times as expensive even if gas prices were to rise by 75%.

    As a result, power companies have increased natural gas use by about one-third over the past year, according to Energy Department data.

    American Electric Power Co., the biggest producer of coal-fueled electricity in the country, said on April 20 that it used 62% more gas in the first three months of the year. And Thomas Fanning, Chairman and CEO of the Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) – once the largest U.S. consumer of coal – told Bloomberg that his company expects to generate 57% of its power from natural gas by 2020.

    Natural Gas Rebound Reason #4: Transportation’s Eating it Up

    Power companies aren’t the only ones repositioning themselves to take advantage of the cheaper fuel, either. The steep decline in natural gas prices has also stirred more interest in the transportation sector – especially among companies with large vehicle fleets.

    For example, AT&T (NYSE: T) began sniffing out opportunities back in 2009. At that time, the company promised to buy 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles, including 8,000 that use compressed natural gas.

    Now AT&T has 5,000 compressed natural gas vehicles around the country, and it recently announced it could buy another 1,200 natural gas vehicles in Wentzville, Missouri.

    Furthermore, General Motors (NYSE: GM), Chrylser and Ford (NYSE: F) have all said they’ll have natural gas-powered pickup trucks available for retail sale by the end of 2012.

    A Big-Time Play on the Natural Gas Rebound

    You can see in the futures market that nimble traders are already positioning themselves to profit from these ground shifts and the natural gas rebound.

    The spread between October and May natural gas contracts on the NYMEX last month reached a record high $0.481 per million btu. That was around the time that futures slid to $1.902 per million btu – the lowest price since September 2001.

    Even now the spread between the June and October contracts is around $0.314, when it was just $0.197 on January 30.

    Of course, you have to be careful when making natural gas investments. After all, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) is one of the biggest natural gas companies in the country, but it’s hardly a good investment right now.

    You could simply play the market with an exchange-traded fund, such as the U.S. Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG). That would give you the upside of natural gas prices, while smoothing out your downside risk.

    But if you really want to profit from the natural gas rebound, follow the heed of Louis – he’s been eyeballing a big-time play for the past year and firmly believes that now is the time to pounce.

    It’s an up-and-coming play in the burgeoning fracking industry, and the best part is, it pays a 9.3% dividend. That means you’ll be getting a sizeable and steady payout while you wait for the inevitable natural gas rebound.

    by Tom Shepstone on EID

    UPDATE: Subsequent to the filing of this post I received a message from Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive, Office of Governor Tom Corbett, challenging my characterization of Kelly Hefner’s role with respect to the Exceptional Value petition of the Delaware Riverkeeper.  Mr. Henderson assured me, in the course of a detailed discussion, that Heffner was only exercising an administrative duty, engaged in no advocacy whatsoever, and was fully in support of natural gas development within the Delaware River basin, under the condition that it’s done safely and responsibly.  I take him at his word.

    There’s a move afoot to ruin the hopes, dreams and economic futures of some of the poorest residents of the Delaware River basin.  It’s being led by some of the wealthiest residents who happen to live downstate or out-of-state, even out-of-basin, who would like nothing better than to depopulate the upper basin and save it as a playground for themselves, with total disregard for the aspirations and needs of those of us who actually have to make a living here.

    The Delaware Riverkeeper, out of the Philadelphia area, is spearheading the campaign.  It proposes to upgrade the stream classification of the river to one called “Exceptional Value,” which sounds great — but in practice would have a devastating effect on any development within the upper basin, including natural gas exploration.  It would also conveniently lower property values for those with designs on acquiring much of this land.  It’s a case of backdoor bureaucratic manipulation.  The Riverkeeper, which might better be called the Rivercreeper for the manner in which it operates and its desires to expand control over anyone living north of the Delaware Water Gap, is marshaling the support of like-minded groups and individuals in a bold move to cut regional economic development off at the knees.

    Say What?  Who Wouldn’t Want to be Exceptional?

    Who wouldn’t want the state to recognize their favorite stream as “exceptional value,” you might ask.   Isn’t it an honor, a recognition of stewardship, a mark of distinction?  Well, yes, of course, but it’s much more than that.  It’s a legal standing that elevates the stream in importance relative to the people it serves.  Essentially, it says this stream is so pristine that we don’t want anyone to use it.  That’s a bit cynical, as stream classifications do have some merit, but anti-growth activists have seized upon them as a blunt instrument to stop anything and everything of significance from happening anywhere in the basin, including natural gas development.

    Here is some of what the Delaware Riverkeeper Network says in its petition to designate the Upper and Middle Delaware River segment as Exceptional Value (emphasis added):

    The Upper Delaware River and its tributary streams’ current PA designated use status does not reflect its quality as one of the most pristine bodies of water in Pennsylvania, or the nation for that matter, nor does it provide adequate protections against the threat of gas drilling currently pending approval of special gas drilling regulations by the Delaware River Basin Commission. If those regulations are approved, there could be up to 64,000 wells drilled within the watershed.

    Dr. Erik Silldorff, an aquatic biologist with the DRBC, testified that, “exploratory well drilling projects within the drainage area of Delaware River Basin Special Protection Waters pose a substantial risk to the water quality and ecological condition of these waterways.” DRBC macro-invertebrate data, in coordination with PADEP, will be submitted as part of this upgrade petition to illustrate the diverse benthic community residing in the Delaware’s tributary streams. Because of the threat gas drilling poses to the Upper and Middle Delaware River (with 36% of the Delaware underlain with Marcellus shale), American Rivers designated the Upper Delaware River the most endangered River in the Nation in 2010.

    An Exceptional Value designation will not stop gas drilling or other development in the Basin. It will, however, require that the necessary steps are taken to ensure preservation of the outstanding quality of the Upper Delaware watershed. Those steps include complete anti-degradation reviews for drilling permits, individual permit filing processing instead of general permit processing, and ensuring that the protected waterway is not affected by stormwater runoff and other impacts of drilling through Clean Water Act requirements.

    These statements come from the two-page cover letter and indicate just how much importance Riverkeeper puts on Exceptional Value designation as a means of halting natural gas development in our region.  Keep in mind: this is a group that concedes its mission is to “end oil and gas drilling” and describes its current strategy merely “as a first step.”  Stopping natural gas development isn’t incidental to the Riverkeeper campaign for reclassification of the Delaware, it’s fundamental.  Not so coincidentally, the National Park Service and Sierra Club are simultaneously pushing to expand the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, convert it to a national park and stop all river crossings by electric utilities and pipelines.

    Riverkeeper Pads Case with Untruths and Shallow Research

    The Riverkeeper’s petition is a compendium of every demagogic hysterical claim made by the natural gas opposition over the last four years.  Here are just a few examples followed by the reality:

    DRBC estimates 36% of the Delaware River’s headwaters are underlain by the shale. In order to access the reserves of natural gas in the shale, energy companies have acquired drilling rights to large tracts of land in the watershed.

    The Reality: As much as two-thirds, and perhaps much more of this, has no economically recoverable shale gas or lies within the New York City water supply watershed where development is not allowed – see chart below.

    The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Environmental Protection Agency, and National Park Service have variously estimated that the natural gas industry could drill between 16,000 and 64,000 wells in the Delaware River Basin in coming years.

    The Reality: This is a wildly inflated number based on the theory the shale is all viable and will be developed.  The real maximum number, based on 1,116 square miles of developable shale, units of one square mile and six wells per unit, is 6,700 wells and that, too, is wholly unrealistic given the impossibility of developing wells in most of this area due to the strict regulations that are already in place and will be even stricter under proposed DRBC rules.

    The science coming out on drilling also raises concerns. An Academy of Natural Sciences’ preliminary study has found that even in areas where spills and large pollution events from industrial gas drilling are not evident, stream quality and diversity are declining in the intensely developed drilling areas of neighboring Pennsylvania counties. Public concern is at an all time high.

    The Reality: The Academy’s study, if one can call it that, was conducted by a graduate student and involved a “small sample size.”  The SRBC, by contrast, recently released a report summarizing the results of extensive water testing involving over 2.2 million readings conducted in 37 locations.  It found six streams with somewhat atypical results requiring further, only one of which had a significant number of gas wells, that being the Meshoppen Creek, which then had 58 wells.  However, what made the results somewhat unusual was a slightly elevated pH of 7.7 compared to a basin-wide figure of 7.3 (pH can range from 6.0 to 9.0 in Pennsylvania).  The SRBC focuses, in this report, on turbidity and specific conductance as “surrogate indicator parameters” with respect to potential water quality impacts from natural gas development. The Meshoppen Creek exhibited, respectively, average readings of 8.28 (less than half the basin-wide average of 16. 98) and 0.14 (same as basin average).  There is, another words, little or no substantive evidence of what the Riverkeeper alleges based on the flimsiest of data.

    Low level radioactive waste disposal facilities and hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities cannot be sited in EV watersheds. This is critical, as Marcellus Shale exploration is known to produce radioactive wastewater that requires disposal.

    The Reality: This is, as we noted in an earlier piece, contradicted from information gathered by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.  This agency, on page 13 of its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) related to high volume hydraulic fracturing notes “Gamma ray logs from deep wells drilled in New York over the past several decades show the Marcellus Shale to be higher in radioactivity than other bedrock formations including other potential reservoirs that could be developed by high-volume hydraulic fracturing. However, based on the analytical results from field-screening and gamma ray spectroscopy performed on samples of Marcellus Shale NORM levels in cuttings are not significant because the levels are similar to those naturally encountered in the surrounding environment.”

    We can and will report more of the problems with the Riverkeeper’s petition in future articles, but the reader can see from just this brief review just how shallow the entire effort is.  It is simply a gimmick, an attempt to create a way through the back door to disrupt natural gas development.  It is also a method of lowering property values to enable future acquisition by the government and third parties who join the Riverkeeper in hoping to stop all development north of Bristol, where the Riverkeeper has offices.  It is one of the most cynical of ploys and needs to be confronted.

    by EID Guest Blogger on EID

    Don Siegel, PhD
    Professor of Hydrogeology, Syracuse University
    Adjunct Professor, SUNY Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Forest Engineering.

    Last month, the journal of the National Ground Water Association published a paper by an environmental consultant in Nevada in which the proposition is put forth that the vertical transport of contaminants from the Marcellus Shale formation of southern New York to potable, near-surface aquifers is not only plausible, but likely – brought to us in as few as “three years,” he argues, and all because of hydraulic fracturing.

    It’s an explosive thesis, to be sure – but one that’s also fatally flawed; very good news for those of us who actually live here in upstate New York. Predictably, and perhaps as designed, the paper generated a great deal of attention in the press after ProPublica first reported its conclusions on May 1. But as I attempt to explain below, the physical realities governing the hydrodynamic flow of fluids underground can’t be as Dr. Tom Myers, the report’s author, suggests. I say this as someone who has studied the specific hydrogeology of New York for over 30 years. I found a number of fundamental errors in Myers’s model when I gave it a first, cursory review.  Some of the most obvious:

    Problem 1: Mistaken Assumptions on Rocks Above Marcellus Shale

    Among the most significant errors made by Myers was his assuming most of the deep rocks overlying the Marcellus Shale do not consist of dry, dense shale. As explained in E&E News (subs. req’d) earlier this month by my colleague Terry Engelder, that’s just not true; most of the rock above the Marcellus consists of shale. And since shale can’t pass much water, particularly if it is dry and solid, Myers’ computer model cannot calculate proper water flow conditions.

    As Engelder explained, instead of being predominantly sandstone, as in Myers’ model, the overburden contains 90 percent shale and only 10 percent sandstone. If the sandstone were replaced by shale within Myers’ model, the time frame required for water movement to shallow aquifers thousands of feet above the Marcellus would increase to 100,000 years, similar in time to what I found two decades ago when I did my own computer model of deep ground water flow in southwestern NY and northwestern PA.

    Because the shale is dense, dry, non-porous rock, companies need to fracture it to begin with; otherwise, there is no way to get the gas out.  Myers also fails to recognize that the brine produced from the Marcellus comes from immediately overlying brine-filled aquifers (also a mile or more deep) into which some of the induced fractures penetrate. This fact is clear from micro-seismicity studies and even more so from the ratios of dissolved elements such as chloride and bromide in the produced fluids. But, there is no local communication of these dense salty water to the surface, because of thick intervening dense and dry rock.

    Problem #2: Mistaken Assumptions with Respect to Movement of Groundwater

    Appalachian Plateau

    It appears Myers does not understand some basic concepts and science behind groundwater movement through sedimentary basins. Water in the Marcellus under the Appalachian Plateau (southern New York and northern Pennsylvania) does not naturally move upward by means of artesian pressure toward the land surface, as Myers assumes.  And because of only this error, his model fails on first principles.

    For more than 60 years, hydrogeologists (if not engineers) have understood that groundwater moves in nested flow systems; regional, intermediate, and local in size. The Appalachian Plateau topographically constitutes the regional replenishment area for long flow paths of deep brines all the way to Lake Ontario, but only along a few focused and rare deep fault systems. It takes hundreds of thousands of years for water to make this journey, if not much longer. The shallow groundwater system from which people get their drinking water on the Appalachian Plateau occurs within the upper 1000 feet (usually far shallower), ubiquitously separated by thousands of feet of dense dry rock, mostly shale, from the deep basin salt waters at the depth of the Marcellus. This understanding of groundwater moving in sedimentary basins has been so well established that every modern hydrogeology textbook produced over the past five decades contains it.

    I know of no instance of deep groundwater on the Appalachian Plateau moving upward under artesian pressure toward the land surface, except in glacial cut valleys that penetrate through this thickness. Period. And I’ve see a lot of water level measurement on the Plateau over the years, both in New York and in Pennsylvania.

    Problem #3: Assumed Fracture-lengths Wildly Exaggerated

    Myers suggests that faults or fissures opened by hydraulic fracturing can and will move dense formation water (flowback and produced waters) upward for 1 to 2 miles into shallow, potable waters. It’s an assertion that’s not grounded in either science or experience.

    Indeed, there are fractures at shallow depths (generally no deeper than 600 feet) that produce modest groundwater volumes for individual homes and farms.  But these fractures pinch off at depths greater than a few thousand feet.  If they did not, natural gas in the Marcellus Shale would have escaped naturally long before now. Because the shale compacts under the weight of all the overlying rocks, oil and gas firms need to use sand to prop fractures open to create the conduits necessary for the hydrocarbon to flow to the wellbore. Despite this basic fact, Myers appears to be arguing that new fractures in the Marcellus can be opened naturally by the very low energies created from hydraulic fracturing,  and then stay open through more than a mile or more of rock that largely consists of shale, even without the introduction of proppant to keep them open. The suggestion is absurd.

    Myers also fails to recognize that dense produced waters cannot move upward easily into fresh water because they are, well, dense.  For decades, hydrologists using MODFLOW (the model Myers used) have incorporated a mathematical correction called  “effective freshwater head” in their modeling when large salinity differences occur.  Myers assumes the brines in the Marcellus have all the same density as the dilute freshwater at the top. This makes no sense for what he was trying to test.  Indeed, it is extraordinarily implausible (bordering on impossible) to imagine brines moving locally upward into fresh water aquifers owing to the density differences. In contrast, it is easy to move brines downward into fresh water because they weigh more than the fresh water.


    More than anything else, the public needs to know that a mathematical model of groundwater flow, such as the one prepared by Myers, constitutes only a representation of reality—it is not reality itself. Before any math model can be built, a scientifically plausible conceptual model needs to be developed.

    As it relates to this particular paper, Myers has developed an implausible model that predictably leads to implausible, and in my judgment, completely wrong results — from simple first principles of geologic and hydrologic understanding, let alone acceptable model development.

    In Capital Confidential
    Posted on May 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm by Rebecca Melnitsky in Hydrofracking, Tom Libous

    The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York presented its “Declaration of Rights” today for property owners who wish to drill on their land. They were joined by Republican state Sens. Tom Libous and Tom O’Mara.

    JLCNY President Dan Fitzsimmons said, “If you own land you can farm it, you can mine it for gravel, you can harvest the timber, you can build on it consistent with local codes. Today, however, there is a movement to deny people the right to develop their land.”

    “All of us believe that environmentally safe drilling can take place,” said Libous, whose Binghamton district sits in the heart of the Marcellus shale region. “It’s not something that’s going to be determined by politicians, it’s not going to be something that’s going to be determined by lawyers, and quite frankly at the end of the day it’s not going to be determined by landowners. It’s going to be determined by the experts at the DEC — those scientists, doctors, health officials, geologists, those who understand the issue and we support that concept.”

    “Nothing that the JLC stands for contradicts what we’re trying to do in New York through the DEC,” O’Mara said, “and that is to develop a protocol in New York to provide for responsible and safe drilling in the Marcellus shale in New York State as we’re seeing going on in shale plates across the country.”

    A member of JLCNY, dairy farmer Jennifer Huntington of Middlefield, said that she signed a gas lease to allow fracking on her land but is currently stopped by her town’s fracking ban. She is now suing her town.

    With the money from fracking, Huntington said, “We would have updated our anaerobic digester that we installed in 1984. It’s 30 years old, needs to be refinished, refurbished. We would have purchased a better oil seed press to more efficiently press soybeans for biodiesel. We would have invested in our farm, our land, and our employees. This would have benefited the entire community. Every dollar that a farmer spends is respent many times in the local economy.”

    “But we were prevented from doing this by my town,” Huntington added. “So in effect, the town took away my rights.”

    Here’s the text of JLCNY’s Declaration of Landowner Rights:

    A Declaration of Landowner Rights
    Many New York state residents hold valuable mineral rights, including rights to natural gas deposits in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations. The right to develop one’s property is beholden to the individual and is a fundamental tenet of rights afforded us under the Constitution. As founding father John Adams asserted, “No part of the property can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent.” The state’s current hold on permits for high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing – a technique used to develop natural gas trapped in shale – has severely restricted the rights of property owners to sell, lease, and profit from mineral ownership.
    We, as residents, taxpayers, and property owners of New York State, have set forth the following “Declaration of Rights” to reclaim ownership of our property and make our voice heard as New York finalizes a plan for allowing shale development that protects our environment and benefits our communities.
    Be it resolved, that all New York property owners have a right to:

    • Timely development of private property. State officials must pursue the timely adoption and implementation of sensible development rules. The delays have potentially cost property owners millions of dollars in lease payments and lost income from development of their resources contributing to further direct hardship for many families.
    • Reasonable and timely expansion of permitted development areas. Restrictions on development should reflect a sound scientific basis and a legitimate regulatory concern. Natural gas drilling can be conducted in a safe and responsible manner when consistently regulated under guidelines based on sound science. We have confidence that after over four years of thorough investigation, New York officials will finalize guidelines that allow permitting of safe development to proceed.
    • A uniform standard for natural gas development. There must be uniform standards for natural gas development implemented by knowledgeable, trained state regulators. New York’s system cannot be distorted by a confusing legal patchwork that impedes private property rights, hinders progress and limits viable economic opportunity.
    • Local moratoriums are graying the lines of where and what types of mineral development will be allowed. Legislation has even been proposed that would allow local municipalities to pass additional regulations potentially at odds with state rules. These are not sound governing principles and impede positive economic opportunities.
    • Redundant and overlapping authority among local governments, state officials, and regional or federal bodies has created a scenario in which the absence of clear authority reduces the potential for economic benefits. Left unaddressed, the current legal uncertainty in New York will continue to impede safe development and take property rights of landowners. These impediments to reasonable development of private property and economic liberties cannot be allowed to stand in direct conflict with our protected rights.
    • Right to pursue economic opportunities for all citizens of our communities. Landowners inherently are the best environmental and economic stewards of our assets. We stand for protection of our rights, including the protection our land, its natural resources, the surrounding environment and our communities’ interests. It has been proven that job creation, not only in gas development, but in a broad array of locally based businesses has followed the safe development of shale gas. Further, that landowners can structure agreements under clear regulatory guidelines that preserve our property rights, minimize land disruption and protect our air and water.
    • Transparency and disclosure by well operators. Industry and regulators alike should disclose all information necessary about activity related to our land and minerals to assure and protect the public. For industry, that means continued disclosure of all additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process and the results of water testing near wells, in accordance with state law.
    • Reasonable protections of our land and water through flexibility in locating wells and well pads. Setbacks from waterways, water wells, and flood plains are reasonable environmental considerations. Landowners want to protect their environment and their communities. Limitations must achieve a commercially viable balance and be based solely on sound science and best practices that reasonably mitigate potential impacts.
    • Arbitrary setbacks and excessive regulations serve no public interest. Overly restrictive setbacks amount to a taking of private property rights and a ban on development. Where setbacks do not halt development outright, they severely limit landowners’ ability to negotiate or dictate the location of well pads on their own property. The adoption of any setbacks by state guidelines should include a sunset clause for their expiration after a reasonable period of time with development occurring free of major incidents of contamination.
    • Property owners deserve the flexibility to negotiate their own commercially reasonable terms with gas developers that protect the best interests of their land. Reasonable flexibility in situating well pads benefits property owners, neighbors, and communities alike.

    The basic property rights outlined above will be the standard by which our 70,000 members measure the success of state officials in balancing the rights of property owners with legitimate issues of public concern.
    We further encourage our membership, families and businesses in our communities to hold local and state elected officials accountable to these principles by supporting property rights advocates for elected office.

    Mary Esch AP in Huff Post

    ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A coalition of upstate New York landowners seeking to lease land for natural gas drilling pressed state officials Wednesday to consider the rights of property owners as they make decisions on shale gas development.

    The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York was at the Capitol to present a "Declaration of Rights."

    "Landowners' rights are being trampled by those with extreme political agendas," said Dan Fitzsimmons of Binghamton, president of the 70,000-member coalition. He referred to groups seeking a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects chemically treated water into drilled wells to release gas from shale.

    Opponents of fracking say it poses significant health risks, including the potential to contaminate water supplies. They argue that one landowner's rights don't trump the rights of neighbors who will be subjected to the noise, traffic, environmental risks and other issues when heavy industrial development comes to a rural or residential area.

    The industry and environmental groups have stepped up lobbying in Albany as the Legislature considers bills including one to ban fracking. The Department of Environmental Conservation may decide in coming months whether to allow the technology after four years of studying the environmental impacts and developing new guidelines and regulations to ensure it's done safely.

    "We have the opportunity to create a vibrant new economy in New York. Unfortunately, we are currently being denied that opportunity by those who base their opposition on information that is not backed by science," said Jennifer Huntington, a Cooperstown dairy farmer.

    Huntington is suing the Otsego County town of Middlefield over its municipal ban on fracking. The case is being appealed after a trial-level state supreme court judge ruled in favor of the town in February. Another local ban by the town of Dryden in Tompkins County was challenged by gas-driller Anschutz Exploration Corporation and upheld by a state supreme court judge. That ruling is also being appealed.

    State Sen. Thomas Libous, a supporter of natural gas development, joined the landowners at a news conference at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon. He said natural gas drilling presents an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs in the Southern Tier. He said it can be done safely under regulations being developed by the DEC.

    Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said the responsibility of having to maintain and pay taxes on land should come along with the right to sell or lease and profit from the mineral resources beneath it.

    Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said he also supports the right of landowners to develop the natural resources on their property, noting that such development would bring new jobs and wealth to the region.

    Chesapeake Upgrades, Repairs Pennsylvania Roads

    Chesapeake paid for improvements to State Road 2024 in Bradford County.

    Traveling in the Marcellus Shale invariably means driving on rural roads that twist and turn through the countryside of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These charming scenic byways often consist of thin layers of pavement known locally as piecrust that require near-constant repair. The annual freeze/thaw cycle and consistent use lead to road damage and year-round patching.

    When Chesapeake Energy Corporation began operations in northeastern Pennsylvania, we understood that many roads were not designed to accommodate the heavy loads that are a part of the natural gas production process. That’s why we began offering Road Use Maintenance Agreements to local municipalities to cut down on their paperwork and expenses while ensuring that Chesapeake remains responsible for any road damage its operations might cause. Currently, we have such agreements with more than 40 local municipalities. We also work with thePennsylvania Department of Transportation’s regional districts to secure Excess Maintenance Agreements and Roadway Maintenance Plans.

    Since 2010, Chesapeake has invested more than $300 million repairing, maintaining and upgrading roads in the Marcellus. Sometimes this work has included simply repairing existing roads. At other times, it has required full-depth reclamation — a pavement rehabilitation process that blends the recycled asphalt underlying materials to stabilize the subsurface base, improves the road’s structural integrity and rebuilds it to today’s engineering standards.

    Working with local townships and the Pennsylvania departments of transportation and environmental protection, Chesapeake has repaired nearly 450 miles of roads in northern Pennsylvania alone. In 2012, we plan to invest approximately $25 million upgrading approximately 56 miles of state roads in northern Pennsylvania and another $15 million on township roads.

    Chesapeake’s infrastructure efforts sometimes go beyond our needs to provide relief for others. While developing a plan to rebuild James Street (State Road 1041) in Bradford County, Chesapeake recognized that pre-existing erosion issues were causing the roadway edge to slide down into an adjacent creek. That safety hazard required immediate action. While not caused by Chesapeake’s operations, we recognized the risk to public safety and committed approximately $300,000 in additional work to address the slippages while upgrading the rest of the roadway.

    Elsewhere, flooding in the fall of 2011 damaged a culvert on Mosier Road in Standing Stone Township, Bradford County, to the point that it was unsafe for vehicle crossings. The roadway, which is used as a school bus and postal service route, is critical. Chesapeake Midstream Partners invested more than $150,000 to rebuild the culvert and stabilize the road above it. The project was completed within a week.

    Chesapeake keeps roads in a safe condition and often makes upgrades before our employees and contractors use them. The company is dedicated to safe operations and being a good neighbor in the communities where we operate, at times employing more than 22 crews from 15 different local contractors to make repairs and upgrades to damaged roads. These projects are part of Chesapeake’s commitment to responsible development of the Marcellus in Pennsylvania.




    2011 Road Construction


    State Road 2010 in Bradford County before and after repairs provided by Chesapeake.

    Bradford County:

    SR 1001, Clapper Hill Road
    SR 1003, Steam Mill Hollow Road
    SR 1004, Turkey Path
    SR 1007-1, Spring Hill Road
    SR 1008, Crow Hill Road
    SR 1056-1, Cotton Hollow Road
    SR 1058, Litchfield Road
    SR 2004, Golden Hill Road
    SR 2013, Rienze Road
    SR 2015, North Street
    SR 2017, Marshview Road
    SR 2025, Homets Ferry Road
    SR 3002, Overton Road
    SR 3004, Hatch Hill Road
    SR 3008, Southside Road
    SR 3010, Mill Street
    SR 3011, Madigan Road
    SR 3018, Bridge Street Hill
    SR 3019, Bailey Corners Road
    SR 3020, Plank Road
    SR 4002, Shotgun Hollow Road
    SR 4003, Nobel Road

    Sullivan County:

    SR 1014
    SR4016-1, Overton Road
    SR4018, Dushore-Overton Road

    Susquehanna County:

    SR 367
    SR 3001, Doolittle Hill Road
    SR 3003
    SR 3004
    SR 3005
    SR 3007

    Wyoming County:

    SR 4004, Golden Hill Road
    SR 4005, Nimble Road
    SR 4019-1, Kaiserville Road




    Published in  North Central PA.com

    Canonsburg, PA – While a clear majority of Americans – facing stubbornly high national unemployment and underemployment rates – still believe that the U.S. economy is getting worse, according to new Rasmussen Reports research, positive, private sector-driven economic growth continues to buck trends across Appalachia.

    One key factor? According to a new Associated Press analysis, Pennsylvania mineral owners and family famers received more than $400 million in Marcellus Shale royalty payments in 2011 alone, while the natural gas industry invested several billion dollars in the commonwealth during that time. As Fadel Gheit, a senior oil and gas analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., tells the AP, “We are producing record levels of natural gas.”

    This from the AP story:

    • Gheit said the real value of shale gas is that the lower energy cost is making American industry more competitive around the world. That opens doors for long-term investments, such as Shell Oil’s plan to build a huge petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania. “In my view this is much bigger than anything we’ve seen in our lives” as far as a new energy development, Gheit said of shale gas.
    • Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the current low natural gas prices benefit consumers throughout the state. “Every single Pennsylvanian has more money in their pocket today — to save, invest and help make ends meet — as a result of plentiful natural gas development from the Marcellus Shale,” she said.

    Natural gas-related consumer savings and economic activity across the region are indeed being broadly realized. But importantly at the same, natural gas producers are taking further steps – anchored in content-rich Recommended Practices – aimed at ensuring that we get this historic opportunity now and for further generations.

    From more jobs and a robust manufacturing base, to reducing the environmental impact of natural gas production while identifying new ways to positively leverage America’s abundant natural gas supplies, our industry remains focused on raising the bar and operating in line with our Guiding Principles.


    • “Manufacturers Tie Ohio Plant Investments to Shale Gas Expansion”: U.S. Steel added 200 jobs at its Lorain Tubular Operations to provide seamless steel pipe for oil and gas producers, said Doug Matthews, vice president of U.S. Steel’s Tubular Operations. Prior to the recession, the company was trying to find a direction for the Lorain plant. At the time, most of the market for its seamless pipe had moved away and the facility wasn’t equipped to produce products for the energy industry, Matthews said. By 2010, the shale gas boom had begun in Ohio and U.S. Steel decided to invest in the Lorain facility to supply the industry’s growth in the region. Shale gas has also reduced input costs for U.S. Steel, which is a heavy consumer of natural gas, Matthews said. “It’s a catalyst for a revitalization of U.S. manufacturing,” he said. (IndustryWeek, 5/2/12)
    • Washington Post columnist David Ignatius: America is entering a new era of energy security. … Robin West, a friend who is chairman of PFC Energy, argues that, because of the rapid expansion of oil and gas production from shale, America is likely to become by 2020 the world’s No. 1 producer of oil, gas and biofuels — eclipsing even the energy superpowers, Russia and Saudi Arabia. West explains that the natural-gas boom will mean a dramatic change in energy imports and, thus, the security of U.S. energy supplies. … “This is the energy equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down,” contends West. “Just as the trauma of the Cold War ended in Berlin, so the trauma of the 1973 oil embargo is ending now.” The geopolitical implications of this change are striking: “We will no longer rely on the Middle East, or compete with such nations as China or India for resources.” (Washington Post op-ed, 5/4/12)
    • Mark Williams, the Downstream Director of Royal Dutch Shell PLC: “Low prices for natural gas offers manufacturers a powerful competitive advantage.” (Dow Jones, 5/3/12)
    • “Cheap shale gas is giving American chemical companies a competitive edge over foreign rivals.” (The Economist, 5/4/12)
    • The Washington Post writes that responsibly expanding global market access to clean-burning American natural gas would “improve the country’s trade deficit, produce returns on domestic energy projects, increase state and federal tax revenue, support construction and maintenance jobs, [and] reduce the leverage of gas-rich international bullies such as Russia.” (Washington Post editorial, 5/6/12)


    • “Gassing up With Natural Gas Might be in NEPA’s Future”: Instead of going to the pump to gas up vehicles, people may soon be going to the “valve” to fill up on a different type of gas – compressed natural gas. … Even though the U.S. has the world’s largest natural gas reserve, it has less than half a percent of the world’s CNG vehicles. … The greatest benefit of CNG vehicles will come to large, high-mileage fleets such as bus systems, trucking firms and waste haulers. With the gallon equivalent of natural gas at about $2, half the price of gasoline and diesel, interest is at a high point.  … Ford offers a line of CNG-ready vehicles that can be taken to company-approved up-fitters and remain under warranty. The options are often less costly than CNG vehicles off the assembly line, said Cynthia Williams, Ford environmental policy manager. (Times-Tribune, 5/5/12)
    • “Getting Natural Gas-Powered Cars in Use”: “CNG we see as a long-term-viable fuel and we will continue to make our products capable to run on natural gas,” Cynthia Williams, Environmental Policy Manager for the Ford Motor Co. said. … “I think natural gas is definitely the way of the future,” Luzerne County Transportation Authority executive director Stanley Strelish said. (Times-Leader, 5/5/12)


    • “Removing Water Trucks From Road”: A pipeline designed to transport water directly to natural gas drilling sites in Lycoming County went into operation in early April. As of the end of that month, the pipeline reduced by about 2,000 the number of truck trips required to support drilling operations in the area, according to Karl Kyriss, president of project developer Aqua Capital Ventures LLC. … “Water trucks haul an average of 5,000 gallons. Our pumping rate at Jersey Shore is 500,000 gallons per day, so every day we’re pulling about 100 trucks off the road,” Kyriss said. (Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 5/7/12)
    • “This is an industry that is constantly evolving with technological innovation,” said Matt Pitzarella, Range’s Cecil-based spokesman. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 5/5/12)
    • “Water Pipeline Supplies PA Shale Drill Sites, Eliminates 2,000 Truck Trips From Roadways”: A newly constructed private pipeline supplying fresh water to certain natural gas producers drilling in the Marcellus Shale in north-central Pennsylvania is now fully operational, according to an announcement from Aqua America Inc. (NYSE: WTR) and Penn Virginia Resource Partners, L.P. … In less than a month of operation, the pipeline has already eliminated more than 2,000 water truck trips over rural roadways. In addition, this project supported the creation of approximately 100 local jobs over the course of construction. (Water World, 4/30/12)


    • Williamsport, Pa. “Tax Revenues up $487,000”: The city saw a $487,000 increase in business privilege and wage tax revenues between 2010 and 2011, according to the city finance committee that met Wednesday. “The revenue reflects increased economic development. Some of it is likely to be a result of increased activity directly or indirectly related to Marcellus Shale industries,” said City Councilman Jonathan Williamson, chairman of the city finance committee. (Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 5/3/12)


    Both sides of shale debate could be more forthright.

    By Terry Engelder
    The exploitation of natural resources often spawns two camps, the industrialists and the environmentalists, each of which engages in disingenuous arguments - the bigger the resource, the more disingenuous the arguments. The debate over extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale has followed that pattern.

    A pocket of gas may have exploded within 1,300 feet of a Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. well near Dimock, Pa., on Jan. 1, 2009. In a recent Associated Press story about a state shutdown of Cabot's drilling near Dimock, a company spokesman said, "It just isn't scientifically fair to say in any short period of time that Cabot's activities did or did not cause the methane in the groundwater."

    This statement doesn't reflect well on Cabot for a couple of reasons. While it is true that methane naturally seeps into groundwater throughout much of the state, potentially leading to such accidents, drilling activity is known to accelerate the process.

    Many private wells in the state have dissolved methane in their water, and people drink this water all the time with no ill effects. But if the volume of methane in the water is near saturation, it can collect in pockets of gas when underground pressure is released by water pumps that aren't properly vented.

    In the course of our research, my colleagues and students at Penn State have drilled into pockets of methane gas at depths of 500 to 2,000 feet. When such a pocket is penetrated, gas rushes up to the surface, blowing foaming, white water out of the well - much as carbon dioxide drives soda out of a shaken bottle. Fourteen families in the Dimock area have described milky-looking water in their wells.

    Penn State's research on the Marcellus Shale is supported by nearly a dozen leaders in the shale gas industry. More than one of these companies have engaged us in trying to solve problems associated with drilling through and isolating shallow gas pockets. Cabot's denials of culpability seem disingenuous given that other industry leaders have recognized the issue and are working with Penn State to address it.

    The state Department of Environmental Protection is also working with the industry to make sure groundwater is protected, and the Cabot shutdown is clear evidence of this. Yet, in a long letter to the Centre Daily Times in State College, an environmentalist recently wrote that gas drillers and DEP regulators "can and do destroy communities and ecosystems, even when the people in those places don't want to be destroyed and say so." This is an equally disingenuous statement from the other side of the debate.

    Whether groundwater is contaminated by chemicals employed in deep hydraulic fracturing - the process used to retrieve shale gas - is a controversial question. The industry claims there have been one to two million uses of the technology without a single report of such contamination. The physics of groundwater flow give some credence to that contention. (Surface spills are a different issue, but they are relatively easy to manage.)

    One environmentalist recently pointed to alleged cases of contamination in Pennsylvania. But one was a clear case of methane migration from shallow pockets, not from hydraulic fracturing. Another involved the presence of arsenic at 2,600 times the federal standard for drinking water, but arsenic isn't used in fracturing.

    As disingenuously, one New York academic recently wrote that exploiting Marcellus Shale gas is comparable to burning coal in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions. This is simply not the case.

    The Marcellus Shale is too important to America's energy future to be the subject of disingenuous arguments from either side. It is a gift to the people of Pennsylvania and the greatest opportunity they will ever have to move away from foreign oil and toward a fuel with a smaller global-warming footprint. It is an opportunity that requires clear thinking on both sides of the debate.

    Terry Engelder is a professor of geoscience at Pennsylvania State University. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    pril 28 2012 Philadelphia Inquirer By Dr Engelder

    4/30/2012 (Updated 5/2/2012 9:34:39 AM) FOX 40 NEWS

    Could and should Vestal shut out fracking through local land use laws?

    The answer to both questions was "yes"  Monday night, at a meeting of fracking opponents:

    Craig Stevens says he got a rude awakening when he moved back to his ancestral home in Silverlake Township, Pennsylvania a few years ago.

    He says a gas drilling company got a lease on the land he jointly owns with family members--even though, he says,  his grandmother's life tenency prevented her from conveying land.

    With such warnings from Pennsylvania  ringing in their ears,
    members of VERSE, or, Vestal Residents For Safe Energy, were looking for ways to ban fracking in Vestal town limits.

    Several lawyers were on hand to tell them that it can be done, under existing land use laws-- and courts have already upheld such bans in other areas--

    Kelly Branigan, a registered nurse from Middlefield Township said there are plenty of health concerns to think about.

    She pointed to a recommendation from federal researchers at the Centers for Disease Control--that fracking should not be allowed to proceed anywhere in the US until more research is done to determine what the long-term health effects will be.

    But a few members of the opposition were also on hand-- telling us that nurse Branigan's information was hogwash:

    Victor Furman, of the Vestal Landowners Coalition said that at the last meeting, Branigan told of a gas worker whose boots were eaten away by toxic substances, and who had suffered skin burns, but could not be treated properly, because the gas company refused to disclose what chemicals or substances the worker had been exposed to. 

    Furman says there was not solid evidence to support her assertions.

    VERSE members say, however, that there are reams of scientific data which should raise health concerns among any parties who analyze the
    information objectively.

    Time to get cracking on fracking

    Last Updated: 1:03 AM, May 2, 2012


    headshotMichael Benjamin in NY Post

    Roustabout may become the next hot job in New York — with modern versions of scenes from classics like “Giant” and “There Will Be Blood” coming to life across the Southern Tier.

    If the Department of Environmental Conservation ever makes good on Gov. Cuomo’s promises and produces reasonable regulations on fracking, shale-gas wells and pipeline projects will need hundreds of roustabouts.

    The median salary for the job is $38,000 annually — higher with experience. With a high-school diploma, an entry-level gas-field roustabout starts at an average of $22,000 a year.

    Jobs New York needs: Changing pipes at a fracking site outside Waynesburg, Pa.
    Jobs New York needs: Changing pipes at a fracking site outside Waynesburg, Pa.

    Plus, fracking means thousands of other jobs, too — jobs New York needs to get out of its economic doldrums.

    Unemployment stands at 8.7 percent statewide, and 9.8 percent in the city; in Southern Tier counties, it averages 8.9 percent.

    Nationwide, jobs in the oil and gas industry are projected to grow 6.4 percent by 2016. Demand will grow for geologists, engineers, administrative assistants, sales and marketing reps, financial analysts, fleet mechanics, truck drivers, heavy-equipment operators, machinists and pipefitters.

    At a recent Binghamton gas-industry jobs fair, attendees learned of opportunities for wetland and wildlife specialists, truck drivers, pipe suppliers and software engineers.

    But “fracking” means “hope” for people here in the city, too — people such as my Brooklyn friend Ray Lewandowski — an ex-offender, single parent and commercial trucker who deserves this second chance.

    There were jobs for those who test our water, treat and transport wastewater and keep gas-well operators honest.

    Gas companies pay for road improvements, too — creating opportunities for small businesses, including minority- and woman-owned firms.

    Decades of economic distress have left counties unable to upgrade many Southern Tier rural roads. Just across the border in Pennsylvania, gas companies are paying for the work, saving local governments millions of dollars.

    Yes, a boom also attracts those looking to make a dishonest buck. But local law enforcement will be prepared to handle upticks in crime.

    And the DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement already screens and licenses applicants for waste-transport and other permits under its “bad actors” provision. It can deny permits to unscrupulous operators or those suspected of organized crime ties.

    Safety concerns? Fracking is under way across the country, with nothing remotely like the problems that critics claim it would bring here in New York. The Obama administration has endorsed it — it’s the main reason US energy production is up under this president.

    The choice for New York is between well-regulated gas drilling and extraction, and thousands of good new jobs — or nothing.

    So far, it’s been “nothing”; DEC Commissioner Joe Martens keeps finding reasons to delay.

    Commerce opened up Western New York in the 1830s. Gov. DeWitt Clinton was ridiculed for his Erie Canal plan, but he understood that prosperity required bold action.

    The next time Gov. Cuomo walks through the Hall of Governors, he should pause in front of Clinton’s portrait and commit to following his example.

    Our state needs this. Fracking means an economic stimulus capable of generating thousands of good-paying jobs, plus millions of dollars in added government revenues. It could mean the success of Cuomo’s approach to leaner, smarter government.

    Instead, the governor has allowed the anti-fracking crowd to seize the initiative here in New York.

    It’s past time for Gov. Cuomo to join President Obama’s jobs agenda — and put New Yorkers to work in our untapped gas fields.

    On Friday June 15th, 2012, the JLCNY will hold it's

    Third Annual Clambake at Mountain Top!

    This is great event that gets more exciting each year with an auction of fine items, food, and fun!
    We already have some wonderful donations for the auction and raffles and many more are expected
    You can count on lots of unique surprises in the line up! You won't want to miss out on a single moment!
    For more information and to reserve your tickets on line please go to...
    This is a great way to support our cause and have a great time doing it.
    So please reserve your tickets and save the date now for the event of the summer!
    Warm Regards,
    Dan Fitzsimmons, President
    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.

    I think we as residents of New York State and\or Pennsylvania or any other state should be very upset with the real news that came out in this "public forum". It sounds like some or many animals in our  or other unnamed states are suffering from mad cow disease or other well known wasting diseases. Animals dying of strange neurological , wasting or other unnamed symptoms without disclosure to the authorities to prevent losses is or should be a crime. We need to insist that the locations and ownership of the cows dying from unknown causes be disclosed and immediately investigated by the states DEC, health department as well as federal authorities. Cornell has an excellent lab and plenty of federal support to determine that nature of wasting diseases for the benefit of our nation, much less New York State. The real cause of death should not be a mystery. This is not the kind of thing that can or should be blamed on Hydraulic fracturing when there is absolutely no evidence that such a thing is true or legitimately occurring behind closed doors, and has not been reported elsewhere. Illness of this type is dangerous to the whole states/nations agricultural business and because it is currently located in limited pockets needs to be investigated before the illness spreads. No big mystery should ever exist, unless it is convenient to the cause of the anti drilling groups to trump up the story to sow the seeds of doubt. Surely the farmers who have experienced the losses would, should or have been willing to turn these sick animals over to the appropriate health authority. Or perhaps all of this nonsense is one more attempt by the anti drilling crowd to cloud the water and further put off the business of drilling and exploration that many landowners and farmers need so badly to avoid having to shut down their farms or loose their land.

    One really has to wonder why there are so many what appear to be conveniently able and ready buyers for the distressed property, where does their money come from? Makes you  begin to wonder if this whole delay is about benefiting a few select people at the expense of the many current landowners.

    One other potential explanation for the hue and cry of animals falling victim to gas drilling is that there was a reported accident where fluids were accidentally released into the animals living space where they were ingested. No one has ever said that there is zero chance of an accident when dealing with construction and industrial jobs. There will be accidents and the key component is to have the proper environmental regimen to handle them. We will never be able to confirm the reason for the death of the animals being reported unless there is complete disclosure, but we can assume that the cause is well known and the companies responsible stepped to the plate and assumed responsibility. If that is the case, the companies and the animal owners have the right to keep their settlements private as well as confidential, that in fact is not a crime. Across the country there are industrial accidents daily, maybe even hourly that are not and should not be subjected to the current hyper extreme environmental criticism which exists today as the norm. As a nation we would come to a screeching halt economically, if we accepted no risk to achieve a reward. I suspect that we are suffering today from over regulation which has a huge negative impact on  our nations business. It will be a mistake of huge magnitude if all use of hydraulic fracturing is prohibited, at a time when its use is making a world wide difference in the energy markets.

    It seems really funny/phony that there was nothing positive about gas drilling and exploration to be heard or reported in this one sided forum. A good example would be improved health care systems in general and new found employment opportunities for nurses and physicians who have been leaving the state in droves to more vibrant economies. Environmental jobs and much greater diversity  and quality of employment opportunities related to our destitute areas.Unemployed New York residents put to work in jobs which help them to recover their pride.

    A one sided forum uncontested is like a lynching where guilt or innocence are not in consideration at all, hanging is the only objective in mind. Once we get past all this political posturing, I am sure these same legislators will find a hundred ways to tax and spend the proceeds, once again hurting the very people they are supposed to represent.JLCpulse


    Senate Democratic Conference Public Forum:

    On Wednesday 25, 2012, Senator Avella and the Senate Democratic Conference held a Public Forum that discussed the health effects and safety of hydrofracking. The forum took place at the Legislative Office Building in Hearing Room B in Albany, from 11:00AM to 3:00PM. The forum addressed a series 17 of bills that are currently pending in the Senate. The 17 Senate bills are as follows: S425 (Krueger)/A2922 (Sweeney et al.); S893 (Krueger)/A2108 (Lifton et al.); S1230 (Duane)/A4237 (Brennan et al.); S1234 (Duane); S1848 (Oppenheimer); S2697A (Avella); S3472 (Oppenheimer)/A3245 (Lifton et al.); S3483 (Oppenheimer)/A7986 (Sweeney); S4220 (Avella)/A7218A (Colton); S4251A (Addabbo)/A7283A (Nolan); S4616 (Avella)/A7013 (Sweeney); S5592 (Carlucci); S5879A (Ball)/A8805A (Abinanti); S6097 (Avella)/A300A (Maisel et al.); S6261 (Ball)/A7400A (Sweeney et al.); S6345 (Krueger)/A2890 (Sweeney et al.); and S6772 (Avella).

    The vast majority of those who attended the forum were in opposition to fracking in NYS as they piled into the room with their petition signs, flyers and t-shirts. Of the few Democratic senators that attended the event, each one said a few words in the beginning about their feelings on the matter – all strongly opposed to the idea of hydrofracking in NYS with Senator Avella periodically mentioning how the 17 bills listed above were a top priority to their conference. There were 55 panel speakers invited by the Senate Democrats and a large number of individuals who signed up the morning of that hoped to voice their views on the matter if there was time. However, since the Senate went into session that day at 3:00PM, not all 55 panel speakers actually had an opportunity to read their testimonies and none of the those who signed up the day of were provided the opportunity to voice their opinion into a microphone.

    Q & A:

    In the beginning of the forum during the first few panels the senators asked a couple of questions or made comments, this however ceased after the senators realized how limited their time was. Their questions were as follows:

    Senator Liz Krueger:

    Q: What are the effects of hydrofracking on agriculture farm animals?

    A: During our studies we saw a drastic drop in milk production of cows and the cows started to waste away. Also, the cows started to collapse for reasons other than typical reason they commonly collapse.






    Senator Daniel Squadron:

    Q: In your opinion, is hydrofracking clearly safe, unsafe, or unsafe with supporting evidence coming in everyday?

    A: Currently, there is not a lot of research out there on horizontal hydrofracking because it is so new and there are not a lot of health impact studies. However, there are too many red flags in position and too many non-disclosure agreements put in place to know more information. The vast number of these non-disclosure agreements alone show that fracking is not safe.

    Q: Is there a safer alternative, or a safer approach to hydrofracking?

    A: Yes, they are called solar panels. Also, I want to note that fracking with the use of LPG has not been proven to be a safer alternative to hydrofracking and that the term hydrofracking does not just apply to water. Currently, only one company in Canada has used this method successfully and they are the only source that has released information about this method, so I would be very afraid and not trust or believe everything you hear or read.

    Senator Tony Avella:

    Q: How many jobs will actually be created by hydrofracking if it is permitted in NYS, I’ve heard numbers as high as 70,000 and are these jobs temporary?

    A: It is important to note that these numbers of employment include reserves and that 70% of these worker actually come from out of state and are actually temporary workers for the local rigs.

    Q: Do property values go down once a gas lease is signed and drilling begins?

    A: Yes in some cases property values do decrease and this has to do with the issue of water quality – water quality is always linked to the value of a home. However, in some places where there is less natural water and they are less concerned about the environment, property values have increased.

    Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins:

    Comment: I just want to note that I think it is highly disturbing that no representatives from the industry are at this event, or ever come to events like these. Even just to shed some light on the matter and show that there is nothing to hide.

    Additional Notes:


    One of the panel speakers noted that the night before the forum, on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, the New Yorkers Against Fracking sponsored an event called “Frackonomics” that was attended by 600 people. At this event a former DEC Commissioner said fracking should be banned, the panelist did not specify which former-Commissioner made these remarks.

    Also, Josh Fox, the director of Gasland, was in attendance and was one of the panel speakers. He announced that he has sent numerous requests to Governor Cuomo’s administration to go on the record about fracking in NYS for his sequel: Gasland 2. However, Cuomo has not responded to any of Fox’s requests. Fox’s last request to Cuomo’s administration was a series of 23 questions relating to fracking, which he provided a copy of to the senators. Fox stated if he did not hear back from Cuomo’s administration on these 23 questions he would take their silence as their formal response.

    Key Themes:

    There were some key themes consistently presented throughout the day, that dealt with the major issues people had surrounding hydrofracking in NYS. The themes were as follows:

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Hydrofracking presents potential risks to NYS watershed and aquifers, particularly in the New York City region;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There are a vast number of direct and indirect agricultural affects in relation to livestock:

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Livestock are forced to drink contaminated water because farms whose water has become contaminated due to drilling cannot afford to provide filtered or bottled water for these animals

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->These animals then either die off, are placed into quarantine prior to being slaughtered, or are forced to be sold putting farms out of work

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Livestock are collapsing for reasons unknown and not similar to common reasons for that particular species

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->There was also a decrease in milk production of cows

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->These livestock that intake contaminated water and die are commonly fed to other animals such as chickens and pigs – therefore humans are affected by these contaminations in an indirect fashion

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There is a need to study the potential health risks and factors of hydrofracking before even considering moving forward with it in NYS;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Fracking presents potential air pollution concerns for the environment, our environment should be put first;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There is a great threat to New York’s State Parks, one of the natural beauties the state has to offer, which may be drastically destroyed if fracking is permitted;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There are a vast number of economic threats to consider:

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->The rate of homelessness is likely to increase, as it has in PA, since the price of rent has drastically increased


    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->Organic products produced and sold in NYS will drastically suffer – there are already a number of NYC organizations and retailers that have stated they will not buy or sell organic products from the Southern Tier if fracking is permitted in NYS; currently NYS is #5 in production of organic products

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->The employees that work on these rigs are primarily temporary and largely from out of town, 70% of these employees are out-of-towners – therefore these employees are not paying state taxes, they are sending their money back to their home state(s) and their families

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There are several flaws in the SGEIS draft that should be addressed:

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->It does not include all of the issues that we are now aware of

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->o   <!--[endif]-->It does not include public health care costs, or special need costs

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There is the question of whether or not property values increase or decrease if a landowner signs a gas lease and drilling occurs on the land;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->The use of toxic chemicals and substances in the fracking solutions poses potential harm, such chemicals should be exposed to the public and in what quantities;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Currently the price of natural gas is at an all time low, we should wait until the price of natural gas increases;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->There is the issue of flow-back wastewater and how there is now talk about such wastewater going to Long Island to be treated, or even being deposited into our lakes, streams, and rivers;

    <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->New York State could be the leader in renewable energies and in agriculture, however hydrofracking is not the bridge to get there


    Key Legislation:

    Throughout each testimony there was strong support for all of the 17 bills previously mentioned, particularly Senator Avella’s bills: S4220 (Avella)/A7218A (Colton); S6097 (Avella)/A300A (Maisel et al.); and S6772 (Avella). Here is a summary and status update of each of these bills:




    Bill: S4220A (Avella)/A7218A (Colton)




    Assembly Status: 01/04/12 referred to environmental conservation


    Summary: This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to prohibiting the use of hydraulic fracturing and the disposal and/or processing of any fluid which was used in a hydraulic fracturing process. This bill begins by defining the term: "hydraulic fracturing" to mean: "fracturing of rock by man-made fluid-driven fracturing techniques for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil well production." It then prohibits the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from issuing any permit for the drilling or operation of any well proposing to use hydraulic fracturing or hydraulic fracturing fluids for the extraction of gas and/or oil. Lastly, this bill prohibits the acceptance, disposal and/or processing of any fluid (including drill cuttings) used in a hydraulic fracturing process. Drilling fluids include drilling mud, chemical additives contained in or added to drilling fluids during hydraulic fracturing process, flow back water and any other residual liquids. Drill cuttings include solid products removed from the well bore during an oil or gas well drilling operation. This is a new bill.

    Bill: S6097 (Avella)/A300A (Maisel et al.)


    Assembly Status: 01/04/12 referred to environmental conservation

    Summary: This bill deal with the establishment of a moratorium upon the disposal and/or processing of any fluid which were used in and cuttings from a hydraulic fracturing process outside of the State pending the issuance of a report thereon by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and certain justifications from the Department of Environmental Conservation. This bill would place a moratorium on the importation of any hydraulic fracturing fluids until 120 days after the issuance of the EPA 2-year comprehensive study of potential adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing and fracturing fluids on water quality and public health. This is a new bill.

    Bill: S6772 (Avella)


    Summary: This bill requires a health impact assessment for horizontal gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing and imposes a moratorium on such activities pending adoption and implementation of the final health impact assessment. This bill requires that the a School of Public Health within the State University of New will conduct a comprehensive Health Impacts Assessment by following a model recommended by the United States Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Sciences. In order to examine the potential public health impacts that could be caused by hydrofracking. Prior to the commencement of research, the School of Public Health shall prepare a scoping document that will establish the scope of assessments to be made by the Health Impacts Assessment. The scoping document must include the required analyses and shall be subject to public review, comment and revision. The bill requires that the Health Impacts Assessment needs to include any potential health impacts that may be caused by hydrofracking and hydrofracking related activities and the costs to treat these health impacts. The bill mandates that no horizontal gas drilling or high-volume hydraulic fracturing shall be conducted in the State, and the State should not issue any permits for extraction of oil or natural gas using this process, prior to the adoption of the Final Health Impacts Assessment by the Department of Health.



    New York is way behind the curve on taking care of its residents in upstate.The big apple city is fat, with no issues compared to its ragtag neighbors to the North. Ohio has Latta making them successful, we have Hinchey and Hanna leading us down the path to oblivion, how sad for us.JLCpulse

    U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green)
    Guest contributor, EIDOhio.org
    April 27, 2012

    With vast, untold resources thousands of feet below the surface, Ohio is experiencing an industrial renaissance that’s reigniting the state’s manufacturing base and growing the economy. Across the state, we are seeing ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new manufacturing facilities, expansion projects, and hiring announcements due to shale activity. The Utica Shale’s potential is having a direct and immediate impact in job creation, which inturn has revitalized industries and communities across the state.

    An eye opening report by ABC News denotes Steubenville, a city long suffering with unemployment rates far beyond the national average, has experienced a resurgence in employment. This past year, the oil and gas industry has created more than 300 new jobs, with more than 10,000 expected in the next three years. According to the ABC News report, if jobs continue to grow at this pace, every adult in Steubenville could be working by April 2015.

    Read the full article...

    Be sure to follow Congressman Latta on Twitter @BobLatta!

    Congressman Robert “Bob” Latta is currently serving his third term in the United States House of Representatives. Congressman Latta currently serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, including the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Environment and the Economy, and Health.

    I am really puzzled by this announcement from Mr Martens countering NYS law concerning home rule. The nature of gas exploration is such that it crosses municipal lines regularly and by necessity. WE as a state cannot ever reach our full potential with little pockets of silliness declaring anti gas sentiments. Under this scenario a small group of people can and will control the majority of peoples rights to use of their land. Whats next ? the anti hunters will declare areas of the state as non hunting, or non fishing, or non chicken, whatever is silly will come to the surface.JLCpulse

    By Jon Campbell in Press Connects 4/26/2012

    ALBANY -- The head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation signaled Thursday that a community's support or opposition to hydraulic fracturing will be considered if the gas-extraction process is ultimately allowed.

    See an Interactive map of NY communities that declared a fracking moratorium or ban

    DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said local land-use rules will "continue to be a consideration" in the permitting process for gas drilling. So far, 95 municipalities in New York have issued a ban or moratorium on hydrofracking, according to New Yorkers Against Fracking.

    Conversely, it would be "easier" to issue a permit in a community that's supportive of gas drilling, Martens said following a news conference.

    "I think logically where there is less resistance and less opposition and there is not a local land-use plan in place, I think those will be easier to permit than in other places," Martens said. "That's not to say that we're going to prohibit them in other places, but it's a consideration we have to carefully view."

    The DEC is in the midst of a nearly four-year review of high-volume hydrofracking, a controversial technique that involves the underground injection of water, sand and chemicals to unlock gas from shale rock. Permits for the process have been on hold until the review is completed, which is expected later this year.

    With natural-gas prices at a 10-year low and the DEC dealing with low staffing levels, many expect permitting to begin slowly if the agency moves to allow the technique. Some lawmakers and lobbyists, including Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, have suggested first allowing hydrofracking in regions of the state that support the technique.

    Other groups have pushed for an all-out ban of hydrofracking. New Yorkers Against Fracking, a coalition, has more than 80 groups that want a ban, spokesman John Armstrong said.

    "I think that most New Yorkers think the idea of essentially having sacrifice zones in the state is not a good one," Armstrong said. "A lot of these communities actually have a majority of people who don't want fracking. Just because they haven't gotten bans passed by their town boards ... doesn't mean that they want fracking."

    Meanwhile, Martens said the DEC continues to work on reviewing and responding to comments that came in during a public-response period last year. The agency received more than 66,000 comments on a 2011 draft of its review, along with 13,000 on a 2009 draft.

    "We are busy working on reviewing the comments and responding to them," he said. "They've been logged; they've been categorized and distributed to the appropriate staff."

    Folks, I guess I owe you an apology regarding this very artificial flap about the completion date of the dSGEIS currently underway. Frankly I thought it was much adieu about nothing since a SEQR review is entirely different in nature, but similar in title. So I did not put any of the information up on the site because it was rapidly debunked and I did not want to cause additional confusion. Emotions are running high enough as it is and I believe our focus needs to be on getting our towns to make the positive declaration supporting the NYS DEC results regarding gas exploration and drilling.JLCpulse

    Dear Friends, Coalition Leaders, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,

    I know many of you were very concerned about comments that were reported by the media recently attributed to Commissioner Martens. According to numerous people who were at the NYS Business Council Environmental Conference, held on April 19th, 2012 (the event that was the subject of the news reports), NYSDEC Commissioner Martens was asked about the progress of the agency’s review of comments on the revised dSGEIS for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Martens suggested that the review process would be completed “over the summer.”
    On a separate panel, at the same conference, a representative from NYSDEC discussed the agency’s timeline for its proposed changes to the DECs State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process in general. This panel is looking to make some mostly administrative changes in the SEQR process, which applies to all types of projects. Review of comments for the revised dSGEIS is UNRELATED to the timeline outlined for the reassessment of SEQR regulations. The February 2013 date mentioned in the media had nothing to do with natural gas drilling permits, but rather the adoption of draft changes associated with the SEQR process, which is separate and distinct from the SGEIS process for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing.
    I hope this eases your concerns as it does mine.
    Warm Regards,
    Dan Fitzsimmons, President
    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.

    Deep-sea drilling and fracking are helping to unearth abundant supplies of oil and gas. The coming energy renaissance could be just the elixir the U.S. economy needs.

    By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., contributor  In Fortune CNN Money

    FORTUNE -- Thursday night in South Texas, and the parking lot at the Texas Roadhouse, on Highway 287 outside Port Arthur, is jammed. Big-shouldered Sierra trucks jostle with shiny Rams, F-150s, and Tundras, with a pearl-white, freshly polished Dodge Challenger sports sedan thrown in for contrast. Inside, manager David Gonzalez copes with an overflowing crowd and counts his blessings. "Every week this year we've been up 6% to 12% over the same week last year," he tells an out-of-state visitor. "It's a good time!"

    Les bon temps are roulant, not just in Port Arthur but all up and down the Gulf Coast, from Beaumont to Biloxi. A renewed surge in deepwater production in the Gulf of Mexico has led to one of those periodic booms that have marked the oil-rich region ever since the first well, at Spindletop, just south of Beaumont, blew its top in January 1901. At the same time, a surge in domestic natural-gas supplies, which has come mostly from hard-to-reach shale formations tapped by the controversial fracking process, has pushed domestic oil and gas output to its highest level since 1988. Increased overseas demand for refined products like gasoline and diesel has made America a net exporter of finished petroleum products, something not seen since 1949. And to meet that demand, the oil giants are building and expanding Gulf Coast refineries, the first major investments in such facilities in four decades.

    Many of the pickup-driving diners at the Texas Roadhouse are oil-patch contractors currently employed at one of two massive expansions going on just outside Port Arthur: the $3 billion addition to Valero's (VLO) Port Arthur refinery and, literally across the road, the $7 billion project to double the size of the refinery owned by Motiva Enterprises, a joint venture between Royal Dutch Shell and Saudi Aramco.

    Along the coast it's easy to spot the effects of America's oil and gas renaissance in new hotels built in the past five years (many of them now populated by itinerant oilfield workers), in the multiplying numbers of overnight "shale-ionaires," in rising home values, expanding car and truck dealerships, and effectively full employment.

    What really excites experts is that these signs of prosperity in the gulf point to a larger trend. "We call it the great revival of the North American oil industry," declares Daniel Yergin, head of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "This is a turnaround not just for North America's oil supply, but one with global impact. It's certainly the biggest development in the world oil market of this century."

    That means the oil and gas boom could make America a major player again in the world energy market and help spur the entire U.S. economy. Already, both Texas and Louisiana have unemployment rates significantly below the national average, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the West South Central region -- which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas -- has the second-lowest overall unemployment rate in the country, at 7.1%. The lowest? West North Central, which includes North Dakota (with a 3% unemployment rate), where gas producers in the supergiant Bakken formation can't find enough workers to fill their shifts.

    7 electric cars for the future

    On the East Coast, abundant natural gas flowing from the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, is enriching farmers who lease their lands to production companies and is estimated to have created 60,000 jobs in the region, with another 200,000 possible by 2015.

    Cheap domestic energy is also good news for the manufacturing sector. "The discovery and development of North America's shale resources has the potential to be the most remarkable source of economic growth and prosperity that any of us are likely to encounter in our lifetimes," U.S. Steel CEO John Surma told the Congressional Steel Caucus in a late March hearing. It's a virtuous cycle: More drilling requires more steel, and lower energy costs give U.S. steel producers a cost edge. This at a time when the Department of Energy reports that the energy intensity of U.S. steel companies is now among the lowest in the world.

    In St. James Parish near Baton Rouge, ground was broken last year for a $3.4 billion steel plant being built by Nucor Steel (NUE), the first major facility built in the U.S. in decades. U.S. Steel is investing in a new facility in Lorain, Ohio, and V&M Star Steel (the North American subsidiary of the French pipemaker Vallourec) plans to spend $650 million on a small-diameter rolling mill in Youngstown, Ohio.

    It's not just Big Steel that will benefit. Feedstock made from cheap natural gas is a boon for the petrochemical industry. Citing "the improved outlook for U.S. natural-gas supply from shale," Dow Chemical (DOW) says it will build an ethylene plant for startup in 2017. (Ethylene is used to make things like plastic bottles and toys.) Dow will also restart its ethylene plant near Hahnville, La. Shell, which is building a new petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania, is also considering a $10 billion Louisiana plant to convert natural gas to diesel. "Low-cost natural gas is the elixir, the sweetness, the juice, the Viagra," says Don Logan, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. "What it's doing is changing the U.S. back into the industrial power of the day."

    Valero's oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is undergoing a $3 billion expansion.

    Valero's oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is undergoing a $3 billion expansion.

    It is ironic that only a few years ago the conventional wisdom was that America was running out of natural gas. Now becoming "the Saudi Arabia of natural gas," as some industry promoters like to say, means that America will start exporting lots of the stuff. "We're going from being a very large sinkhole for all hydrocarbon products," says Charif Souki, CEO of Cheniere Energy (LNG), a natural-gas supplier, "to becoming the low-cost energy producer in the world."

    While the U.S. remains the world's largest importer of crude oil (the nation still imports 45% of its oil) liquefied natural gas (LNG) may soon become a big export item, adding jobs and helping offset America's trade deficit. Companies that built import terminals to bring in LNG in the early 2000s are now spending billions to remake them into export facilities. Cheniere Energy plans to break ground on the first new LNG processing unit at its Sabine Pass Terminal on the Louisiana coast this year and be exporting natural gas by 2015. Cheniere has signed contracts with four overseas customers including Spanish utility Gas Natural Fenosa. Besides Sabine Pass, at least three other LNG terminals, built as intake ports, have applied for export licenses. Essentially the infrastructure of the Gulf Coast oil and gas industry is being spun around to serve the new realities of the great petro-revival.

    For all the ebullience in the industry these days, the boom times could change, and quickly. "Tight oil," trapped in hard-to-exploit formations like oil sands and oil shale, is economical right now because of high crude prices, which could fall if Middle East tensions subside and new supplies flood the market. Some experts believe that world oil prices have to stay above $85 a barrel (current price: $105) for tight oil to remain profitable. A crackdown on environmentally risky fracking could stop the natural-gas boom in its tracks. Environmentalists cite concerns that fracking can despoil water supplies and contribute to air pollution. Another Deepwater Horizon accident could halt offshore production in the gulf for decades.

    Even plans to export lots of cheap natural gas could hit market realities. American producers today, even with shipping costs, can sell gas into Asia, Europe, and South America for about 40% less than the price of gas in those markets. New supplies coming online over the next decade from Australia and China could drive prices down, crimping margins for U.S. exporters.

    Could any or all of those factors stifle the Great Revival? That's hard to say. As the regulars at the Texas Roadhouse can tell you, that's the thing about booms. They eventually always turn to busts. In the meantime, let the good times roll.

    --Richard Martin is the editorial director of Pike Research and author of SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future.

    Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that Dow Chemical will build an ethylene plant in Louisiana for startup in 2017. The company says it plans to build it in the Gulf Coast, but it has not announced a specific location.

    This story is from the April 30, 2012 issue of Fortune

    Folks, I guess I owe you an apology regarding this very artificial flap about the completion date of the dSGEIS currently underway. Frankly I thought it was much adieu about nothing since a SEQR review is entirely different in nature, but similar in title. So I did not put any of the information up on the site because it was rapidly debunked and I did not want to cause additional confusion. Emotions are running high enough as it is and I believe our focus needs to be on getting our towns to make the positive declaration supporting the NYS DEC results regarding gas exploration and drilling.JLCpulse

    Dear Friends, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,

    I know many of you were very concerned about comments that were reported by the media recently attributed to Commissioner Martens. According to numerous people who were at the NYS Business Council Environmental Conference, held on April 19th, 2012 (the event that was the subject of the news reports), NYSDEC Commissioner Martens was asked about the progress of the agency’s review of comments on the revised dSGEIS for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Martens suggested that the review process would be completed “over the summer.”

    On a separate panel, at the same conference, a representative from NYSDEC discussed the agency’s timeline for its proposed changes to the DECs State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process in general. This panel is looking to make some mostly administrative changes in the SEQR process, which applies to all types of projects. Review of comments for the revised dSGEIS is UNRELATED to the timeline outlined for the reassessment of SEQR regulations. The February 2013 date mentioned in the media had nothing to do with natural gas drilling permits, but rather the adoption of draft changes associated with the SEQR process, which is separate and distinct from the SGEIS process for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing.

    I hope this eases your concerns as it does mine.

    Warm Regards,
    Dan Fitzsimmons, President
    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.


    • Article by: DAVID BARTLETT  Updated: April 20, 2012 - 8:08 PM in The Star Tribune

    For the United States, a 'reversal of fortune' in energy

    Photo: Matthew Brown, Associated Press

    The increase in world oil prices stemming from instability in the Middle East underscores the close relationship of energy and geopolitics, which arises from several realities:

    • The status of fossil fuels as an exhaustible resource subject to interstate rivalries.

    • The contribution of energy to nations' economic growth.

    • The centrality of energy as a national strategic resource closely bound to foreign policy.

    • The prominence of state-owned companies in leading energy-producing countries (for example, the Russian Federation) that regard such enterprises as instruments of state power.

    • The role of energy in global climate change and other cross-border issues.

    The geopolitics of energy has become a hotly contested issue in the U.S. presidential election. Republican challenger Mitt Romney indicts President Obama for the recent spike in gasoline prices, citing the administration's suspension of the northern section of the Keystone pipeline as proof of the president's supposed hostility to the oil and gas industry.

    Obama counters that his "all of the above" national energy strategy (coupling accelerated development of renewable energy with environmentally safe exploitation of fossil fuels) best positions the United States for energy security in coming years.

    Indeed, the current boom in U.S. energy production (which reflects the policies of both the Obama and Bush administrations) provides grounds for optimism about the country's prospects for energy independence:

    1. Advances in recovery technologies (including seismic analysis, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) have fueled a surge in hydrocarbon production. Between 2008 and 2011, U.S. oil production rose from 5 million barrels per day to 5.7 million. At present recovery rates, domestic oil output is projected to reach 6.7 million barrels a day by 2020.

    2. According to the National Petroleum Council, the combined oil production of Canada (whose tar sand reserves are the focal point of the Keystone controversy) and the United States could reach 22.5 million barrels a day by 2035, sufficient to meet North American oil demand.

    3. The expansion of U.S. natural gas production is even more impressive. From 23.5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in 2006, natural gas production reached 28.6 tcf in 2011. The Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States holds 2,543 tcf of technically recoverable natural gas reserves.

    As natural gas production has surged, wellhead prices have plummeted ($10.79 per tcf in July 2008 to $2.89 per tcf in January 2012), benefiting hard-pressed American households as well as energy-intensive manufacturers.

    4. The foremost driver of the U.S. natural gas revolution is shale gas: From 1 percent of total natural gas production in 2000, shale gas accounted for 14 percent of natural gas output in 2009. Pending resolution of concerns over the environmental impact of much-maligned hydraulic fracturing methods, shale gas is projected to reach 45 percent of U.S. natural gas production by 2035.

    5. Parallel with increased production, domestic fuel consumption is falling as a result of the increased efficiency of the U.S. passenger fleet (a trend likely to continue with the federal government's new CAFE standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025) and shorter driving distances by Americans (projected to decline from the 2003 peak of 12,500 miles a year to 11,600 miles a year in 2020).

    6. The combination of increased domestic production and decreased consumption has significantly lowered American demand for imported energy. Between 2005 and 2011, imports fell from 60 percent to 45 percent of total liquid fuel consumption in the United States. During the same period, the share of total energy consumption from domestic sources rose from 71 percent to 81 percent, the highest level since 1992.

    7. These shifts have transformed the United States into a major energy exporter. Drawing on its refining capacity (the largest and most sophisticated in the world) the U.S. is now a net exporter of gasoline and other refined petroleum products. Furthermore, the shale gas boom positions the country as an exporter of liquified natural gas as that inchoate global market develops.

    8. From a geopolitical perspective, the transformation of the North American energy market lowers dependence on imports from unfriendly and unstable countries (such as Venezuela and Nigeria, the fourth- and fifth-largest foreign suppliers of oil to the United States.) It also reduces the need for external financing of energy imports, which constitute a sizable part of the U.S. current account deficit.

    In brief, the United States is enjoying a "reversal of fortune" in energy that provides a wide range of economic and political benefits. But three cautions are in order:

    First, oil prices remain high and volatile despite increased production in North America and other regions. This reflects both supply-side factors (anxieties over the impact of a cessation of Iranian oil exports in a potential armed clash with Israel) and demand-side factors (notably mounting consumption of oil and gas by China, India and other emerging economies undergoing energy-intensive development).

    Second, the environmentally sustainable exploitation of newly discovered fossil fuels requires continued improvements in recovery and remediation technologies along with strengthened governmental regulations.

    Third, falling hydrocarbon prices may weaken the commercial viability of renewable-energy technologies like biofuels (whose development has slowed in the United States amid declining natural gas prices and rising feedstock costs) and solar and wind (intermittent renewables that are still far from grid parity in the country).

    Delays in the commercialization of these technologies would hinder the steady migration from hydrocarbons to renewables and frustrate international efforts to lower greenhouse gases.


    David Bartlett is senior lecturer at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    By Mark Perry on

    The chart above displays monthly “natural resources and mining” employment levels in North Dakota (blue line, right scale) and Pennsylvania (red line, left scale) over the last ten years (data here). After more than a decade of flat employment levels for energy-related jobs in both states, employment levels recently have been booming, along with the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota and the Marcellus natural gas boom in Pennsylvania.

    In just the last three years, energy-related jobs have almost tripled in North Dakota and almost doubled in Pennsylvania.  And while the “Great Recession” crippled the U.S. labor market with job losses approaching 8 million, the recession had almost no effect on the shovel-ready, job-creating labor market for energy jobs in North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

    I have provided page one of six, for the full article, please click on the link. JLCpulse.

    Pipeline and Gas Journal April 2012 By Richard Nemec


    At the end of 2011, the shale boom continued to spawn new-found expectations for U.S. oil and natural gas resources that contain large opportunities for the pipeline and other infrastructure sectors that are quietly riding the production upswing. Resulting low domestic gas prices relative to other global markets have sparked a scramble for export licenses to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe and Asia.

    The roughly decade-old strategy fostered by declining reserves in Canada and the United States that sparked a building boom for LNG import facilities on both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has been turned upside down. As a result, the infrastructure firms are gearing up for a new building boom to support exports.

    How and where it rolls out is yet to be determined, and may take several years to be sorted out, but in early 2012 it looks like all major coastal regions could have serious export projects and related facilities in the preconstruction stage. The activity should include Alaska and the U.S.-Canadian West Coast, which observers like the consultants at Canadian-based Ziff Energy Group think will be the leading locations for exporting gas.

    In December, Ziff published a report, “North American LNG Exports,” identifying 10 proposed export sites – one on the East Coast, four in the GOM, and five on the U.S./Canada West Coast. It concludes that continued wide differences between U.S. gas prices and the rest of the world will make U.S. LNG exports inevitable.

    At year-end, a Congressional Research Service report estimated that total LNG export proposals cumulatively would reach 12.5% of the current U.S. annual natural gas production in 2011. The report noted that pipeline exports, which accounted for 94% of the nation’s gas exports in 2010, were also expected to rise.

    Surprisingly, various industry players with interests in future exports all talk fairly bullishly about the economic and technical logistics needed to build multibillion-dollar liquefaction facilities and related infrastructure, such as transmission pipelines and various gathering pipeline systems. Most of the time-consuming part of the export development involves regulatory and political hurdles, they say.

    Energy consultants at Wood Mackenzie (Woodmac) assume it will take 10 years to get a North Slope gas-driven LNG export project going out of the Port of Valdez on the east side of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Others think two or three years could be shaved off of that, but the key finding in a Woodmac report in mid-2011 was that Alaskan LNG exports potentially could generate up to $419 billion during the 30-year life of a project for the U.S. economy, particularly in Alaska.

    Competing interests for a pipeline through Canada to the United States, which has been a focus of many pipeline and infrastructure companies, particularly Calgary-based TransCanada Corp., argue an export option does not meet regulatory and other economic hurdles.

    Four years ago a consultant’s report to Alaskan government officials said an export project would “likely confront significant, expensive, and time-consuming barriers” based on a myriad of requirements for applications to, and approvals by, a host of federal agencies, not to mention U.S. State Department and national security concerns. By contrast, the report found a pipeline-only approach through Canada confronts none those problems, according to the authors, Greenberg Traurig LLP, writing back in 2008.

    John Hanger's Facts of The Day April 20, 2012


    The EPA gas air rule blows still more big holes in Professor Howarth's discredited 2011 study that falsely implanted in the minds of many that "gas was as dirty or dirtier than coal" for global warming pollution.

    First, while Professor Howarth assumed no green completions were used during flowback, EPA documents that green completions are currently used on 50% of gas wells.  This fact alone destroys Professor Howarth's false methane leakage estimates that are at the heart of his paper.

    Second, the current rate of green completions apparently is higher than the EPA had assumed, when arriving at the EPA 2.4% methane leakage rate. As a result, the EPA may lower its current methane leakage rate number, even before the green completion requirement takes effect in January 2015.

    Third, to his credit, Professor Howarth himself said of the then proposed EPA green completion requirement: "Can shale-gas methane emissions be reduced? Clearly, yes, and proposed EPA regulations to require capture of gas at the time of well completions are an important step."

    At this point, the EPA air rule is final; 50% of wells are already green completing; 100% of wells must flare in the period prior to January 2015 (Howarth assumed zero flaring too).  Those facts alone destroy the conclusions of the Howarth paper.

    But, in addition, Howarth stopped his "life cycle" analysis of emissions from carbon and gas prior to the combustion of both at power plants and rejected the IPCC's 100-year global warming potential factor in his analysis.

    Will all that be enough to end the use of the Howarth paper in public processes and dialogue? Unfortunately probably not.

    Well the way I read this article, if you are interested in having the ability to sell your mineral rights, it is time for you to get right on down to your town board meeting and insist on a declaration welcoming drilling to your town. We have been battered by the anti-gas gestapo crowd, listened to false information and suffered through the insufferable, it is our turn to make out position count in the towns were we directly elect officials and pay the property taxes. So get organized with your coalitions and get going!!  Mold your own future. JLCpulse

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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    ALBANY -- Areas of New York that have been supportive of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas could be the first to get approval if the state Department of Environmental Conservation allows the technique, according to lawmakers and lobbyists.

    With the DEC in the midst of a lengthy review of its permitting guidelines for hydrofracking, some believe the agency will eventually move to allow it in certain areas near the Pennsylvania border.

    Sen. Thomas W. Libous, R-Binghamton, a gas-drilling supporter, said the state may ultimately focus on regions that haven't shown opposition to hydrofracking.

    "I believe they're going to look at areas of the state where there is Marcellus Shale, where there is potential for drilling in areas of the state that are going to be open to it," said Libous, the Senate deputy majority leader. "It just doesn't make sense for them to do it elsewhere, and I think there are enough areas of the state that would be open to it."

    Since 2008, the state DEC has been crafting permitting rules to dull the environmental impact of high-volume hydrofracking, a process that involves the use of water, sand and chemicals injected deep underground to unlock gas from shale formations. The technique hasn't yet been permitted in New York and won't be until the agency's review is complete.

    New York's portion of the vast, gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation lies beneath all or part of 30 counties, stretching from the western part of the state to the Catskills, according to the DEC. But the thickest and most lucrative part of the shale is believed by geologists to be in the southern portions of Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties.

    And most of the government opposition to hydrofracking has come from outside the shale's epicenter in New York. More than 90 municipalities have issued bans or moratoriums on hydrofracking; All but one -- the city of Binghamton -- have been outside of Broome, Tioga and Chemung counties.

    In December, Binghamton City Council at the urging of Mayor Matthew T. Ryan, approved a two-year ban on hydraulic fracturing -- the only official governmental ban in Broome County.

    At its April 4 meeting, the Town of Union board accepted a petition from the Glen Park Homeowner's Association requesting a "ban on gas drilling using hydrofracking" in the town and establishing a 5-ton weight limit on vehicles using Western Heights Boulevard.

    More recently, Residents Against Fracking in Tioga presented the Town of Owego board a petition with 1,000 signatures asking for a ban.

    "We are totally against fracking," said Gerri Wiley, who submitted the RAFT petition and referred to a brochure titled "101 reasons High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Needs to be Banned in New York State."

    Recently, some pro-hydrofracking landowner groups have mobilized in towns close to the Pennsylvania border, hoping to convince town boards to pass resolutions in support of gas drilling and the economic opportunity it brings.

    James Finch, acting supervisor of the Town of Conklin said the town board would soon act on the resolution as a way of signaling to the DEC that it wants drilling within its borders.

    "That's the only thing that's going to bring this area back," said Finch, noting that the town has been hit hard by flooding twice since 2006.

    In the Town of Vestal, both pro- and anti-hydrofracking groups have lobbied board members in recent weeks, hoping to have the board take action in their favor.

    "I'm getting tapped by both sides, and they're both working diligently to try and prove their case," said Supervisor John Schaffer. "We have not supported it, and we have not denied it. We will listen to everybody, and we will react when the time comes to react."

    DEC already signaled that it would allow some local involvement in the permitting process. A draft version of the agency's hydrofracking review lets municipalities "raise a flag with DEC" if a permit application doesn't follow its local land and zoning laws, DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis wrote in an email.

    "If high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, local governments will get advance notice of all applications and can comment on compatibility of such application with local land use laws and policies," DeSantis wrote. "DEC will consider this in its review of the permit application and can deny or condition a permit based on this information if it deems such action is appropriate based on the impacts."

    DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, meanwhile, has repeatedly said the agency won't issue more permits than its staff can handle -- a number that would likely be small, given that the agency has lost more than 800 full-time positions since 2008.

    Courts have so far backed local control over whether to allow hydrofracking. A pair of state Supreme Court decisions last month found that municipalities can indeed ban drilling or hydrofracking within their borders; both decisions are currently awaiting appeal.

    Allowing any hydrofracking permits, however, would be sure to anger groups opposed to the technique, many of whom believe it can cause irreparable harm to the environment.

    "My sense is once DEC completes their process, I think that we'll ease into this," said Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, Otsego County.

    "There will be a limited number of permits. Where the best opportunity is for the most return on wells and where the local community welcomes the opportunity, I think that obviously makes sense to issue permits that meet those two criteria."

    Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, said she believes the DEC needs to start over in its regulatory review and take human-health impacts into account before allowing any drills in the ground. Lifton and Seward have been supporters of "home rule," sponsoring separate bills that would clarify the municipal right to ban or zone drilling.

    "We have to know whether this industry is ready for primetime in New York -- whether it's safe, whether it's going to hurt the water," Lifton said. "And I don't believe we're at that point."

    Allowing a piecemeal approach to drilling in New York would likely receive pushback from the gas industry.

    Thomas West, who represents several gas companies as an Albany-based lobbyist and attorney, said the industry would likely move slowly into New York anyway because of natural-gas prices that have been trading at decade-long lows. But he questioned the legality of the state allowing drilling in some areas and not others.

    The DEC has already announced its intention to ban surface drilling within the New York City and Syracuse watersheds, a move West also questioned.

    "I don't know how the state can come down and make a value judgment and say, 'We're going to allow it in limited place," West said. "I think DEC is sticking its neck out by carving out areas."

    One of the members of our Southern Madison County Gas Coalition asked me if I was concerned that low prices would be a big set back to expanded natural gas drilling in the Utica and Marcellus shales when New York gives approval.  This is my response and I think it should be provided to others who have similar concerns.
    Dave Keefe

    From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    Sent: 4/20/2012 9:10:13 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time
    Subj: Re: Bloomberg Business Week: Is Natural Gas Too Cheap to Drill?
    Thanks, Dave - really appreciate it.

    On Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 5:19 PM, <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> wrote:
    Tom, what is occurring now is a classic natural gas market cycle that has been repeated with minor variations 4 or 5 times during my career in the oil and gas business.  Let's say that we start with high prices for natural gas because demand is exceeding supply with the demand significantly accelerated due to a couple of cold winters in a row.  Prices move up as this demand increases because the supply is insufficient to meet the demand.  Then this demand starts to erode because those who can do so switch to other fuels.  Gas burning power plants switch to coal because coal is very cheap.  Buildings install coal burning heat supply, witching from gas.  Plants using gas as a feedstock to produce plastics, petrochemicals, medications and many other products cut back on their production of those products by using less natural gas feedstock.  At the same time that these factors are diminishing demand, natural gas operators liking the high prices for their gas production are moving in a direction to produce more gas increasing the supply, and in the current case this increase in supply is significantly multiplied by the introduction of horizontal drilling and improved hydraulic fracturing techniques.
    The result to all of these changes in gas supply and gas demand, creates what we call price elasticity related to declining demand and burgeoning supply.  Over time natural gas price gradually declines to a level that discourages new drilling until a balance is achieved between supply and demand.  But this balance is never actually achieved because as the gas price decreases, a point is reached where it is much cheaper to use than alternative energy sources.  At that point the cycle goes back in the other direction.
    All newly constructed homes use natural gas instead of fuel oil or coal.  Power plants install new equipment to convert them to use of natural gas instead of fuel oil or coal.  Commercial buildings switch from fuel oil to natural gas.  Large fleets of vehicles are converted to the use of natural gas instead of gasoline.
    Manufacturers of plastics, petrochemicals and other products using natural gas as feedstock expand their plants to make more products and use a lot more gas because at the low gas price they  make much more money on their products.  All consumers who are able to do so switch to a natural gas energy source rather than other fuels.  As this demand gradually, and not always gradually, increases, gas prices move upward and continue to rise until the cycle is reversed and goes in the other direction.  Normally the arch of the higher gas price is quite prolonged because switching to natural gas normally requires a significant capital investment and most consumers are reluctant to switch quickly because they need to benefit from, and justify their investment.
    Right now, we are seeing major switching into natural gas.  Most natural gas operating companies will slow their drilling to a degree, but will continue to drill where producing volumes from individual wells will assure payout at the current price.  They will also drill as necessary to keep their leases valid and current.
    I expect that prices will begin to move up toward the end of the year.  We are probably due for some cold weather this coming winter and maybe the next.  The weather factor could accelerate pricing.
    We need to get Gov. Cuomo to allow drilling to commence and I believe that he will do so fairly soon.  A few successful wells in the Utica shale would help our cause a lot.  I am not fearful of the current low pricing since I know that it will follow a cycle that we have seen many times before.
    By on April 17, 2012 in Bloomberg Business Week

    The price of natural gas is right around $2 and even traded below that level for the first time in a decade on April 11. Since peaking at $10 per 1,000 cubic feet in June 2008, natural gas prices have steadily declined as new horizontal fracking techniques have unlocked massive amounts of shale gas. As prices have declined, so has the number of operating gas rigs. There were only 624 operating in the U.S. as of April 13, the fewest since April 2002, according to Baker Hughes (BHI), a Houston oil- and gas-services company. Gas rigs have been disappearing particularly fast since late October, the last time prices were above $4.

    Essentially, gas is so cheap that it’s no longer profitable to drill.

    “Producers typically need $5 [per 1,000 cubic feet] to break even,” says David Greely, an energy analyst at Goldman Sachs (GS). The industry hasn’t seen prices consistently over $5 since September 2010, back when there were nearly 1,000 rigs operating in the U.S. The number of gas rigs peaked near 1,600 in mid-2008, when prices peaked at $10. (The boom was effectively confirmed in June 2009, when a Colorado School of Mines report showed that U.S. natural gas reserves were 35 percent higher than previously estimated.)

    Other analysts say $5 is too high and that the average gas producer can still make money with the price between $3 and $4, depending on the well because different types of wells have different cost structures. Newer, high-production wells can turn a profit even with prices below $2, while older wells that are just trickling out gas need much higher prices to make money. That’s probably why there’s been stronger demand for horizontal rigs that specialize in fracking. Even those numbers have started to diminish in the last couple weeks.

    Still, a fair amount of activity persists in the field. Low borrowing costs have helped spur a healthy appetite to invest in gas drilling despite low prices, with a lot of funding coming from equity markets and in the form of joint ventures. According to Greely, producers have continued drilling, despite low prices, in an effort to expand volume and hold on to leases, which require that they continue drilling.

    With weather unseasonably warm this winter across most of the nation, demand for natural gas fell off precipitously, leading to a huge rise in surplus storage—from less than 100 billion cubic feet in December to nearly 900 bcf last week. “The primary driver of low prices right now is the lack of winter and lack of demand,” says Craig Shere, a natural gas and utility analyst at New York-based energy research firm Tuohy Brothers.

    While many analysts believe natural gas prices will remain depressed through the rest of the year, Shere feels that the market is overly bearish about the price of gas, discounting in particular the longer-term production declines from falling industry capital expenditures, as well as increased demand from power plants that are switching from coal to gas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects demand for natural gas from the power sector to increase by 9 percent this year.

    “We’re seeing switching levels that no one imagined,” says Shere. As a result, gas will supply more of the electricity generated during the hot summer months than its customary 25 percent. Couple that with expected lower production rates in the coming months, and Shere believes supplies will tighten before the end of the year. “We will eat off this excess storage and prices will rise as a result.”

    On April 21st, from 2:00-5:00PM, the Windsor Colesville Oil and Gas Lease Coalition and Deposit Coalition will join forces to host a Chili Cook-Off Contest Fundraiser!
    This family friendly event will be held in the Windsor High School which is just south of Rte. 17 (take exit 79) on the west side of Rte 79.
    Admission is $5.00 for adults, and children less than ten years old will be admitted at no charge. Once in you’ll get to enjoy all the chili you want to eat, Chobani yogurt, refreshments, hot dogs or chili dogs, and a live DJ.
    There will also be a large item raffle. Raffle tickets will be sold for 1 for $5.00 or 5 for $20.00.
    1st place is a Bluestone table
    2nd place 1/2 of Angus beef cut and wrapped
    3rd place Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun
    4th place is a handmade patchwork quilt
    As if that is not enough, there will also be a bake sale, 50-50 raffles, and many Chinese auctions. Some of the items already in the auctions are…
    32" Flat Screen TV
    Tool Sets
    Golf Package
    Rack of Firewood
    Pallet of Sidewalk Stone
    Maple Syrup
    Carhart Clothing
    Gift Certificates to Michelangelo's Restaurant, Grandma's Café, Annie's Bar & Grill, Hitchin’ Post, and Harpursville Farm & Garden.
    There’s just too many to list and many more items still coming in!!
    As for main attraction, the Chili Cook-Off Contest, right now there are about 35 contestants signed up. First place winner in each category (Individual, Restaurant, and Celebrity) will receive a new gas grill.
    Who will have the best Chili around?
    Who will have bragging rights for the coming year?
    Come on out, sample the entries, and find out for yourself! The cookin’ and eatin’ will make this one of the hottest events around! The fun times will make it one of the coolest!
    So come early, stay late, bring your appetites, and thanks for helping us support our important cause!
    Warm Regards,
    James Worden
    Windsor Colesville Oil and Gas Lease Coalition

    The Athens News in a letter to the Editor

    To the Editor:

    Ohio University's announcement to operate the Lausche Heating Plant on natural gas is great news (The NEWS, April 16). With prices at record lows, these savings will provide the university with funding to focus on the world-class research and education for which it is well known.

    An example of savings can be seen in a recent study, which showed Ohio consumers saved over $1.5 billion in energy costs last year thanks to shale development. Meanwhile, a recent Bloomberg article noted increasing use of natural gas for electricity is taking a huge bite out of greenhouse-gas emissions.

    All of this is possible thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a technology that's been used safely in Ohio for over 60 years. Indeed, it's so common that virtually all onshore natural gas used in America is produced via the process. Unfortunately, this may be news to some students, who, according to the recent Athens NEWS article, support the use of natural gas – unless it was developed via fracturing. That's like supporting paper only if wood isn't used to produce it. It's completely disconnected from the facts.

    As a graduate of Ohio University, I am excited to see the university recognizing the opportunity that natural gas has to offer.

    Shawn Bennett, Field Director
    Energy in Depth Ohio

    Cambridge, Ohio

    Junkscience.com Posted on April 19, 2012 by

    Mary and Dale Watson moved to this little community on the outskirts of Fort Worth for its peace and quiet. Then drilling rigs came in search of something else: billions of cubic feet of natural gas that lie underneath. That would once have meant a lot of noise and aggravation. Not now.

    “I don’t even notice it,” Mr. Watson said of the 15-story drilling derrick in the horse pasture behind his house. “I can go outside and hear a little bit, but as far as I can tell, it is no bother.”

    That is because Devon Energy Corp. DVN -2.19% built a 24-foot-tall wall of insulated tarps around the drilling site—its derrick, several large pumps and three diesel generators. The beige wrap, which looks as if it were designed by a ham-fisted student of Christo and Jean-Claude, damps the noise emitted by the round-the-clock operation.

    Devon wasn’t required to install the sound barrier under local ordinances, but it did so anyway to appease neighbors, such as the Watsons, who don’t own mineral rights and so don’t benefit financially from the drilling.

    As drilling for natural gas spreads to communities across the U.S., state and local governments are battling over how to regulate the gas industry, and residents in many areas are deeply divided about whether to support it. In the Fort Worth metropolitan area, which lies above the gas-rich Barnett Shale formation, energy companies are working to make their operations more palatable, partly in hopes of fending off stricter rules. One driller has even written a book on building well sites that blend in: “Urban Drilling for Dummies.”

    “They don’t want problems or complaints,” said Keene city administrator Bill Guinn of the drilling companies. “They don’t want to get overly regulated.”

    Other cities across the country are looking at way to soften the impact of the drilling operations. As of last month, there were 15,731 gas wells in the Barnett Shale, mostly in a seven-county area, according to state records.

    Fort Worth’s planning department has been fielding calls from Louisiana, Pennsylvania and even England, asking about how the city has handled quality-of-life issues. The city has 66 pages of rules for gas wells, including requiring the company to obtain letters of approval from all property owners within 600 feet of a well, banning any construction on Sundays or at night and limiting noise levels. The area surrounding the city has dozens of municipalities with local ordinances on natural-gas drilling.

    “It is always a challenge to drill in an urban environment,” said Fernando Costa, an assistant city manager in Fort Worth. Evolving rules have helped ease community fears, he said., adding, “I think, on the whole, Fort Worth has come to embrace gas drilling.”

    Just a reminder to all, the beat goes on in the on going attempt to continue New Yorks taking of landowner property rights. Stay diligent and engaged if you want to maintain your legal land use. In this recent sample, only 17% of the signatures are from New York! JLCpulse

    signature # location & date


    # 13,689
    05:59, Apr 20, Ms. Katherine Hope, IL
    # 13,688
    03:34, Apr 20, Ms. Linda Butcher,
    # 13,687
    01:04, Apr 20, Mr. Tunde Yussuf, Ireland
    # 13,686
    20:32, Apr 19, Dr. Nathan Daniell, Australia
    # 13,685
    20:22, Apr 19, Ms. Sandy Commons, CA
    # 13,684
    18:55, Apr 19, Name not displayed, NY
    Save our future our land, our water and our Lives!!!! NO FRACKING!!!!!!
    # 13,683
    16:27, Apr 19, Ms. Theresa DiTullio, NY
    # 13,682
    16:27, Apr 19, Mr. warwick neal, WV
    # 13,681
    15:58, Apr 19, Mrs. mariana varela, Colombia
    # 13,680
    15:45, Apr 19, Ms. Joan Craig, NY
    # 13,679
    14:11, Apr 19, Ms. Margery Schiff, NY
    # 13,678
    11:58, Apr 19, Mrs. Mary Boerboom, MN
    # 13,677
    10:41, Apr 19, Ms. Patricia Archuleta, NV
    # 13,676
    10:40, Apr 19, Mrs. Holly Schaeffer, UT
    # 13,675
    10:18, Apr 19, Mrs. Magdalen Bray, United Kingdom
    # 13,674
    09:02, Apr 19, Ms. Beverly Thomas, TX
    # 13,673
    08:56, Apr 19, Ms. Margaret Reardon,
    # 13,672
    07:54, Apr 19, Mr. David Balfour, HI
    # 13,671
    06:27, Apr 19, Ms. Cynthia M. THOMAS, FL
    # 13,670
    03:28, Apr 19, Ms. Sasha Green, United Kingdom
    # 13,669
    03:08, Apr 19, Mrs. marilyn graziano, Italy
    # 13,668
    02:43, Apr 19, Name not displayed, NY
    # 13,667
    01:03, Apr 19, Mrs. Estelle Oelofsen, South Africa
    # 13,666
    22:31, Apr 18, Mr. ludwig krause, South Africa
    # 13,665
    22:12, Apr 18, Mrs. Susanne Rash, NY
    # 13,664
    21:29, Apr 18, Ms. Erin Walden, CO
    # 13,663
    21:03, Apr 18, Ms. Diane Schwarz, VA
    # 13,662
    19:48, Apr 18, Ms. jo ann norton, OR
    # 13,661
    19:11, Apr 18, Mrs. Sandra Nealon, CA
    # 13,660
    19:08, Apr 18, Mrs. Barbra Drake, WI
    # 13,659
    19:01, Apr 18, Ms. Laura Austria, NJ
    # 13,658
    18:02, Apr 18, Ms. Dale Thien, FL
    # 13,657
    16:14, Apr 18, Mrs. Mary Carter, ID
    # 13,656
    16:11, Apr 18, Mr. Randy Harmon, KS
    # 13,655
    16:02, Apr 18, Ms. Gill Armstrong, United Kingdom
    # 13,654
    15:33, Apr 18, Mrs. Bety Bigelow, WA
    # 13,653
    15:18, Apr 18, Mrs. patricia ruch, PA
    # 13,652
    15:13, Apr 18, Dr. francois sahli, France
    # 13,651
    14:51, Apr 18, Ms. jenn kurtz, NH
    If you scroll down through all the signatures on NYRAD and Toxic targeting web site you will see about 35 - 40 percent of the signatures they collected are from out of state or even out of country. See the above example taken from just 120 signatures or two pages. I have scrolled through the petition and was fascinated by the outside interest who were signing this petition.
    The info is in the link provided above
    researched by:
    Victor J Furman , NY resident

    By Victor Furman in Press Connects

    I have read several letters to the editor attacking the Vestal town board written by Sue Rapp, a member of Vestal Residents for Safe Energy (VeRSE), a group that is calling for a moratorium on gas drilling in Vestal.

    She has stated several times that the town board is dragging its feet and not favoring or denying her group's stance for a moratorium. I beg to differ. I have seen several news reports in which presentations were made by both sides of the issue. Attorney David Slottje was invited in by the town board to do a presentation, and attorney Robert Wedlake of the Binghamton law firm Hinman, Howard & Kattell was afforded the same amount of time at a later date to respond. I have heard statements from the Vestal town supervisor saying the town is doing its due diligence in reviewing and researching comments and town issues.

    In my view, Rapp seems to be giving the town board a bad rap by accusing them of making this a non-issue. Everything I see on the news and read in this newspaper shows that the town board is taking this issue very seriously and has been very fair in letting both sides of the issue be presented. The board also has listened to landowners both for and against the moratorium.

    There is no need for any town in New York to add another moratorium to the state's already four-year-long hold on drilling in its effort to get drilling done right. Certainly the Town of Vestal does not have more money than the state when it comes to drafting drilling regulations, researching the science, studying the geology, sending experts to other states and hiring the many vendors it has used to write the toughest drilling regulations in the country. The Vestal town board should be commended for its hard work on this matter, not chastised.

    Furman is a Chenango Forks resident.

    In Press Connects

    ALLENTOWN -- The state's top health official has assured doctors that Pennsylvania's new Marcellus Shale gas drilling law will allow them to talk to their patients about proprietary chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process -- and share the information with public health agencies and regulatory bodies as they see fit.

    The Pennsylvania Medical Society started questioning the new law almost two months ago, and on Wednesday issued a statement saying that Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila had clarified the issue in a letter.

    The Associated Press reported last week that doctors worried the confidentiality provision was too vague, and on last-minute negotiations that stripped up to $2 million in new Health Department funding for research on the public health impacts of gas drilling.


    Dear CGN members,


    Last week was a banner week for Clean Growth Now members and our support of moving forward with responsible natural gas drilling in New York.  We wanted to share just a few highlights with you.  Thank you so much to our members who came together in so many ways and on so many different levels to achieve these successes.




    Positive Resolutions


    We are proud to announce that the Town of Conklin passed a positive resolution last week on drilling.  We have attached a copy to this update.  We hope to build on this great effort showed by Conkin and others who recognize responsible development opens the door for long-awaited economic growth opportunities and jobs.  If you know of communities willing to join this effort, please let us know.

    Natural Gas Career & Education Exposition

    All of us who attended the April 11th Job Fair at Broome Community College in Binghamton can tell you what a great success it was!  The hard work of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and its fellow sponsors resulted in a fantastic event.  In addition to the great media attention illustrated by the pieces included below, we were proud to have three CGN members lend their stories to radio airchecks aired live from the job fair on stations WAAL and WHWK.  All three scripts were run on both stations, and we have attached a copy of them.  Thank you to Lancaster Development, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters and Vestal Asphalt for your assistance with these spots.


    Economic Threat of Local Bans


    CGN wants to once again strongly recommend our members read the attached paper entitled, “A Policy Analysis of Local New York Laws Banning Oil and Gas Exploration,” by  Robert Alt, a Fellow in Legal and International Affairs at the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University in Ohio.  There has been great media attention, including a CGN voices leading a media call about the impact of a “home rule” approach on New York’s economy and job prospects.  The call received great attention, focusing on how local bans threaten New York’s Economic Potential with “Legal Quicksand”.  Some of the highlights are below.


    We are also seeking compelling new venues in the core Marcellus area to position speakers favorable to shale gas development under the appropriate state guidelines and welcome your suggestions.


    Thank you again for all you are doing for Clean Growth Now and the State of New York.  We cannot do it without you.


    Kind regards,

    Bill, Stephen & Catherine




    Job seekers gather for NY gas-drilling jobs fair Associated Press by Mary Esch, 4/11/12 (ran in Syracuse Post-Standard, Business Week, Albany Times Union, Huffington Post, Newsday, more)

    People lined up Wednesday for New York's first job fair in the shale gas-drilling industry, as prospective employers pinned their hopes on the state lifting a four-year-old ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.


    For job seekers, a fracking fair NY Times by Mireya Navarro, 4/10/12

    Undeterred by New York State’s delays in deciding whether to allow fracking for natural gas, Broome County Community College, a business group and a coalition of landowners are holding a “career and education expo” on Wednesday for residents interested in learning about jobs in the gas industry.


    Broome Community College to host drilling career expo Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin by Steve Reilly, 4/9/12

    Shale gas drilling hasn't made its way to the Southern Tier yet, but that hasn't kept job opportunities from trickling across the state line.


    Binghamton job fair targets natural gas opportunities Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin by Steve Reilly, 4/11/12

    Larry Peloso Jr. hasn't been able to find work since he graduated from SUNY-Delhi last year with an associate's degree in carpentry and building trades.

    "I couldn't find any jobs ... because of the housing industry," said the 22-year old Otsego County resident. "So I was trying to get a job with the gas companies."


    Gas career expo News 34 (Binghamton ABC/NBC affiliate), 4/11/12

    Nearly 50 companies that work in the gas drilling industry took part in a job fair Wednesday.


    Career expo in Broome County to showcase job opportunities in natural gas development WBNG (Binghamton CBS affiliate), 4/10/12

    The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York on Monday announced that it will host a Natural Gas Career and Education Expo in partnership with Broome Community College and Broome Tioga Workforce NY on Wednesday, April 11th, from 3-7 p.m. at the Broome Community College Ice Center.


    Natural gas career and education expo WBNG (Binghamton CBS affiliate), 4/11/12

    Town of Dickinson, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York hosts its first Natural Gas Career and Education Expo at Broome Community College.


    Natural gas career and education expo to be held Wednesday YNN (Binghamton Time Warner TV station), 4/10/12

    A new event aims to educate the public on careers in the natural gas industry.  The Joint Landowners Coalition is hosting its first ever Natural Gas Career and Education Expo Wednesday night. The event will feature more than 45 vendors from throughout New York, Pennsylvania and Canada.


    Career expo highlights natural gas jobs YNN (Binghamton Time Warner TV station), 4/11/12

    It's been the center of debate in New York for the past few years, but Wednesday, hydrofracking was the center of a forum on jobs at Broome Community College. It's an industry proponents say is growing rapidly across the country.


    Natural gas career expo set for Wednesday at BCC WICZ (Binghamton Fox affiliate), 4/10/12

    Broome Community College and the Joint Landowners Coalition are convinced that natural gas drilling will bring plenty of jobs to the area.


    N.Y. holds first gas-drilling job fair Times Tribune (Scranton, PA), 4/12/12

    People lined up Wednesday for New York's first job fair in the gas-drilling industry, as prospective employers pinned hopes on the state lifting a four-year-old fracking ban.


    Local Bans Risk Deterring Immense Revenues Out of State

    At peak capacity, the DEC estimates it could bring in revenues of about $2 billion per year. This is significant money that’s potentially being left on the table. … If New York doesn’t want the business, Ohio and Pennsylvania do. (Robert Alt on YNN Capital Tonight with Maureen McManus, 4/11/12)

    Opponents of Natural Gas Development are Using Legalities as Political Ploys

    In hopes of fueling this kind of confusion and its deleterious effect, opponents have bypassed state capitals on their way to the local city hall in order to make development as unattractive as possible. (Consequences of Towns Fighting States over Natural Gas, 4/12/12, Forbes, Brigham McCown)


    Local Bans Would Create Substantial Legal Costs for Towns

    “These local municipalities are going to be on the hook for pretty significant legal bills in defending these statutes, probably for years,” said Robert Alt of the Ashbrook Center during a conference call with reporters set up by the pro-fracking group Clean Growth Now. “The litigation in these cases is probably going to stretch out for years.” (Drillers to Locals: Frack Bans Could Be Costly, 4/11/12, Capitol Confidential, Casey Seiler)


    Moratoriums on Development Erode Property Owners’ Rights

    Ashbrook Center Legal and International Affairs Fellow Robert Alt, who has partnered with the group on this issue, describes the moratoriums as “legal quicksand.” “Not only do these bans erode property rights for local landowners, they have the effect of forcing individual towns down an unknown legal path where the only certainty is extensive legal costs and lost jobs."

    (Pro-Frackers Say Local Bans Pointless, 4/11/12, Schenectady Daily Gazette, David Lombardo)


    The Economic Opportunity Is Long-Term

    “The (Marcellus shale) reserves are significant enough that the industry is going to be here, if we allow it to come, for many, many decades,” said Brian McMahon of the New York State Economic Development Council … “There is no reason that I have seen to think that this is a short term economic phenomena. This is a long term economic gain for the state, for the citizens, for taxpayers, for landowners.” (Drillers to Locals: Frack Bans Could Be Costly, 4/11/12, Capitol Confidential, Casey Seiler)

    Associated Press

    BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Before work begins on a gas well or pipeline in northern Pennsylvania, Merlin Benner or one of his colleagues walks the land looking for timber rattlesnakes, a protected species.

    "When we find them, we're required to move them far enough away to get them out of danger and out of sight of the workers," Benner said. "State regulations are in place to protect the snakes, but the clients are more concerned about the safety issue."

    Job creation is one of the main arguments in favor of natural gas drilling using the controversial technology of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Industry opponents, who believe health and environmental risks outweigh economic gains, say job numbers are inflated and the economic impact will be a boom-to-bust one.

    But jobs are being created, not only in the gas industry and the hotels and restaurants that cater to its rig workers, but also in numerous companies that are filling industry-related niches.

    Benner, whose company is Wildlife Specialists of Wellsboro, Pa., is among business owners who have started or expanded because of the shale gas boom that began about four years ago in Pennsylvania. Drilling is expected to spread into New York if the state Department of Environmental Conservation completes its four-year review and approves it, possibly this summer.

    Benner worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for 15 years as a wildlife biologist before retiring early in 2007 to start his company.

    "We went from one person five years ago to about 15 full-time now and 15 to 20 seasonal workers in the summers," he said.

    President Obama said in his State of the Union address in January that natural gas drilling could create 600,000 jobs nationally.

    Benner's company also delineates wetlands, looks for endangered Indiana bats, and conducts habitat surveys. The firm illustrates the diversity of businesses that are directly involved with natural gas well and pipeline projects in the Marcellus Shale, a deep, gas-rich rock formation underlying southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

    John Payne, owner of Payne's Cranes in Bainbridge, said his company had been busy erecting modular homes until the economy tanked in 2008. "We were doing about 60 homes a year and that dropped to maybe a dozen," Payne said. "The gas development came along at just the right time for us. It's the best opportunity I've had in 42 years, no exaggeration."

    Payne's Cranes unloads gas compressors and erects the buildings that house them, as well as erecting, disassembling and transporting drilling rigs. "We've modernized considerably since we started working in Pennsylvania three years ago," Payne said.

    Payne has added four employees, increasing his full-time staff to 18, and four cranes, going from eight to 12.

    Chris Musser and two friends started Crosshair Consultants of Vestal after they graduated from college in 2009.

    "We saw an opportunity and jumped on it," Musser said. "We've gone from four to 10 employees plus two part-time, and we just signed a lease for a larger office space." Crosshair contracts with gas companies to oversee truck fleets, ensuring that vehicles are properly maintained and drivers comply with safety regulations.

    Dave Nixon, who opened a Pennsylvania branch of California-based Rain for Rent two years ago, said he has 130 employees and is looking to hire 20 to 30 more. They rent water storage tanks, pipes, and pumps and their employees install, operate and remove the equipment.

    The company's work has changed along with stricter regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which frees gas from shale by injecting a well with millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to crack surrounding rock.

    "Most of the water is being recycled now," Nixon said. "When we started out in 2010, we weren't filtering at all."

    Kim Grant, of the Buffalo-based Applied Sciences Group, said the company that programs the wastewater controls used in fracking grew 20 percent last year, adding nine employees, and expects to hire another nine this year.

    "There's a significant need for software engineers in the gas industry," Grant said.

    While Wildlife Specialists does a lot of work for the gas industry as well as for wind farms and other developers, Barry Butler, a wetland specialist for the company, said he has mixed feelings about drilling.

    "Philosophically, I think most of the people in our office would like to see the environment not change," Butler said. "But that's not going to happen, even without the gas industry here. So we want to sit down and figure out how we can best develop the resource our country needs while designing and managing the projects so they have the least environmental impact possible."

    April 17, 2012, 6:00 am NEW YORK TIMES
    The snack-food company is currently testing a pilot fleet of 18 trucks powered by C.N.G.Frito-Lay North AmericaThe snack-food company is testing a pilot fleet of 18 trucks powered by C.N.G.

    On Tuesday, Frito-Lay announced it would add 67 trucks that would run on compressed natural gas, known as C.N.G., to its fleet. Eventually, the company said, a majority of its longer-range vehicles would run on C.N.G., as well as liquefied natural gas for longer-distance hauls.

    The C.N.G.-powered trucks would save the equivalent of $2.50 a gallon compared with diesel at current prices, as well as reduce greenhouse emissions by 23 percent when compared with diesel rigs, the company said. Currently, 18 trucks burning natural gas in 8.9-liter Cummins Westport engines are undergoing a pilot test.

    “The good news is that it’s a win-win for us, both in terms of our sustainability strategy and reducing our costs,” Michael O’Connell, senior director of fleet capability at Frito-Lay, said in an interview. “The payback for the extra cost of the natural gas trucks is a year and a half, so it’s a little bit of a no-brainer. We retire approximately 125 tractors a year, and we plan to replace as many of them as we can with natural gas.” He said it could take six to seven years to convert all of the company’s tractor-trailers.

    Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, operates the seventh largest private delivery fleet in the United States.

    Chris Trajkovski, the national fleet-sustainability manager for Frito-Lay, said the 67 trucks would be fully deployed by the middle of July. In use, they would save the company about 900,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually, according to Mr. O’Connell.

    Aside from high diesel prices, the growing market share for natural gas in the heavy truck sector reflects the proliferation of affordable natural gas in the United States — itself a function of increased domestic exploration and new extraction techniques like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Daniel Ustian, president and chief executive of the truck builder Navistar, said in an interview that natural gas could command 10 to 20 percent of the tractor-trailer market in a year.

    Converting the nation’s tractor-trailer fleet to natural gas is a keystone of the plan offered by the Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens. “We have to target the heavy-duty vehicles, which is where you can get the volume,” Mr. Pickens said in an interview with Wheels in 2010. Last year, the delivery service U.P.S. said it would add 48 heavy tractor trucks running on liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G., to its fleet. At the time, the U.P.S. fleet had more than 1,100 natural gas vehicles in service, including 11 other L.N.G.-powered tractors.

    Frito-Lay also plugs in. In 2010, the company announced it would add a fleet of 176 electric box trucks, which have since traveled a million miles delivering the company’s products.

    “On certain drive cycles the electrics work extremely well,” Mr. O’Connell said. “We’re currently finalizing the purchase of 100 additional 24-foot electric box trucks from Smith Electric. And we’re testing trucks from Electric Vehicles International.”

    Chris Woodward - OneNewsNow - 4/16/2012 8:45:00 AMBookmark and Share

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) logo smallA pro-oil and gas organization says recent episodes involving the Environmental Protection Agency and natural gas drillers prove the federal agency is unfit to regulate hydraulic fracturing.


    The EPA announced in December 2010 that natural gas driller Range Resources had contaminated a well in Parker County, Texas, near the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Range claimed it was methane that was naturally occurring from another well in which Range was not drilling.

    After the EPA stood its ground, the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas activity in the state, confirmed what Range had been saying. The EPA then admitted it was possible, but stood by its order for Range Resources to provide water to residents.

    Steve Everley of Energy In Depth says the EPA has now decided to drop the issue.

    Steve Everley 2 (EID)"This is now the third time just this year that the EPA has been forced to admit that its search for water contamination from hydraulic fracturing has turned up empty," he notes.

    "In Dimock, Pennsylvania, without any new data, they went from saying there is no contamination to there might be contamination, we're going to investigate it. And when their results came out -- lo and behold, there are no significant health concerns from any of the contaminants in there, all of which are naturally occurring."

    The other case involves Pavillion, Wyoming, where in December 2011, the EPA tried to link hydraulic fracturing to water contamination. In March of this year, the EPA reported that the methods it used were flawed and that the agency would have to re-test things.

    "We know from EPA and all the rules and regulations that it's put out, they stand by it and say, This is science, this is based on fact. But if even the EPA is coming out and admitting that it's testing in Pavillion, Wyoming ... was really bad," Everley says. "So the Parker County, [TX] case is part of a broader trend of showing that the EPA, frankly, is unfit to regulate hydraulic fracturing because they don't know what they're talking about."

    Last week, the Obama administration announced it was creating a multi-agency working group to coordinate federal oversight of drilling for natural gas. The working group will be headed by White House energy adviser Heather Zichal and will include representatives of nearly a dozen agencies that oversee various aspects of drilling.

    Panelists at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference all say that natural gas should give way to cleaner fuels in the future. But how long will it take to get there?

    By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., writer-reporter  CNN

    FORTUNE -- What can the executive director of the Sierra Club and a Shell executive agree on? That natural gas can serve as a bridge fuel in the United States, carrying the country from its dependence on oil to a widespread use of renewables.

    The main point of contention is the length of that bridge.

    Panelists on both sides of the fracking divide gathered Tuesday at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference in California to discuss the future of natural gas in the U.S.

    Ultimately, the country will ideally transition to clean fuels including nuclear energy, solar and wind power, says Pat Wood, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and currently a principal at Wood3 Resources. "Between now and then, God gave us a great big gift here with fracking."

    Fracking is a well-stimulation method used when drilling for natural gas. Oil and gas companies have used the method on vertical wells since the 1950s. But in 2003, Halliburton (HAL) started fracking along horizontal wells, allowing companies to extract much more natural gas than previously conceived.

    In simple terms, fracking creates fissures in the shale rock alongside a well, then floods those fissures with a mixture of sand and water to push gas out of the cracks and up the well.

    Fracking and gas drilling have caused controversy across the country. Some Americans, especially those living near the Marcellus Shale in the northeast, have claimed that fracking has poisoned their water, or, at the very least, their quality of life. Two states that touch the Marcellus – New York and New Jersey – have temporarily banned fracking.

    "The real issue is how you properly construct a well," says Russ Ford, the vice president of onshore gas, upstream Americas for Shell's exploration and production arm. Most of the pollution problems attributed to fracking happen when companies don't line their wells properly, he says. Ford claims that when wells are properly built, as they usually are, fracking is safe.

    Safe enough, in fact, to become an even greater portion of the U.S. energy portfolio going forward. Ford would be happy, he says, to displace dirty coal with natural gas.

    That may not solve America's unhygienic fuel problem, says Mike Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club's long-term goal is to retire one-third of U.S. coal plants used for power generation by 2030. Over that period of time, Brune says, natural gas production will ideally remain stable if not decline slightly until more information is available on the safety of natural gas drilling, and whether natural gas is truly a green fuel.

    But if you ask the industry, the wheels making natural gas a major global fuel source are already in motion. And fracking, according to Wood and others, is the blessing keeping those wheels good and greased.

    April 16, 2012: 5:00 AM ET

    America's most profitable company now produces about as much natural gas as it does oil. CEO Rex Tillerson thinks the fracking party has just begun.

    By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., assistant managing editor for CNN

    Drill pipe ready for use on a rig at Exxon's Johnson Ranch site outside Fort Worth

    Drill pipe ready for use on a rig at Exxon's Johnson Ranch site outside Fort Worth

    FORTUNE -- For Rex Tillerson fracking is more than a revolutionary approach to drilling oil and gas -- it's part of his personal history. Simply mention the word to the CEO of Exxon Mobil (XOM) and he starts reminiscing about his days as a young engineer. It was 1976, and Tillerson had been sent to East Texas for his second assignment at the company. His job was to follow around rigs drilling for natural gas and "complete" the wells. That meant experimenting with a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. By pumping water, sand, and chemicals down into a well at high pressure, he could cause cracks in the stone where the gas was trapped and allow more of it to flow.

    That winter Tillerson practically lived out of the back of his car, driving to the company's district office in Tyler at night so he could run punch-card decks through the computer to design his new fracking programs. Out in the field, when the temperature dropped and the wind blew, the then 24-year-old engineer was grateful for the shelter provided by the big diesel engines that powered the water pumps. "I would stand between those big fracking tanks to stay warm, because the water's heated," says Tillerson in a rare interview, laughing at the memory. "I'd stay there until they were ready to crank those babies up, and then I'd have to go out into the weather."

    What's warming his heart today is the shale gas revolution that technology has enabled. In fact, Tillerson is betting much of his company's future growth -- and a good portion of his legacy -- on the promise of fracking. Two years ago Tillerson engineered a $35 billion acquisition of natural-gas producer XTO Energy in large part to buy the company's hydraulic-fracturing expertise. It is easily the largest deal the energy giant has done since the $88 billion mega-merger with Mobil orchestrated by Tillerson's predecessor, Lee Raymond, in 1999.

    In buying XTO, the 60-year-old Tillerson has further reshaped the company. In 2011, Exxon reported sales of $486 billion -- a gargantuan number that could vault it past Wal-Mart (WMT) to recapture the No. 1 position in this year's Fortune 500. The $41 billion in profit it earned was the second-largest total in corporate history, behind only the $45 billion record that Exxon set in 2008. Those astronomical earnings have been driven by persistently high oil prices. But today Exxon, the prototypical oil giant, gets about 50% of its production from, and has 50% of its reserves in, natural gas. The company's stock has risen 77% since Tillerson became CEO at the beginning of 2006, compared with 29% for the S&P 500 index (SPX). To deliver the future returns that its shareholders expect, Exxon needs the XTO purchase -- which so far hasn't lived up to its promise because of falling natural-gas prices -- to pay off bigtime. Tillerson has good reason to believe it will.

    Over the past several years fracking has unlocked a vast new source of energy supply in the U.S. Advanced forms of the process that Tillerson used in the 1970s, combined with innovative methods of drilling, have enabled energy companies to extract huge quantities of natural gas and oil trapped in shale rock -- assets that were previously thought to be either impossible or uneconomic to produce. Production from large shale deposits, or "plays," such as the Barnett in Texas, the Haynesville in East Texas and Louisiana, and the vast Marcellus in the Northeast, has surged.

    This shale gas boom has turned assumptions about the future of the U.S. and global energy picture upside down. Less than a decade ago the consensus was that America was beginning to run out of economically recoverable natural gas and that the country would need to import vast quantities of it from overseas. Now we're awash in natural gas. U.S. production has increased 28% since 2005. In 2011 about a third of that production was from shale gas, up from just 11% in 2008. By 2035, according to a study by the research firm IHS Global Insight, shale gas will account for 60% of U.S. production.

    It is widely thought that the U.S. now has 100 years or more of domestic gas supply at current consumption rates. Already there has been a frenzy of exploration. The shale gas industry employed more than 600,000 workers in the U.S. in 2010, according to IHS, and by 2015 it will contribute some $118 billion to the U.S. economy. (For more on the economic ramifications of this boom, see "America's New Job Machine Is Heating Up.") Large shale deposits in South America, China, and Europe mean that it should eventually be a global trend as well. The International Energy Agency estimates that the world currently has a 250-year supply of natural gas. "In my 50 years of following the energy business, this is by far the biggest event that I've seen," says John Deutch, an MIT professor and a former CIA director who last year chaired a Department of Energy subcommittee on shale gas.

    The surge in shale gas production has happened so quickly that drilling activity has raced ahead of regulators and public understanding. Fracking has become a dirty word to many -- almost a catch-all term for concerns about the consequences of a new onshore exploration boom in the U.S. that has reached into areas previously untouched by the energy industry. Environmentalists have raised concerns about contamination of freshwater aquifers, pollution from truck traffic, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and even earthquakes. It didn't help fracking's reputation that Gasland, a 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary about the dangers of shale drilling, caught the public's attention with its footage of contaminated tap water that could be lit on fire, though the veracity of some of the film's content was later challenged.

    Still, if there is a single factor that could slow shale gas development, it's environmental backlash. Already New York (which potentially has a lot of Marcellus Shale gas) and New Jersey (which probably doesn't) have temporarily banned fracking. Both France and Germany have imposed moratoriums on shale gas drilling. And in November, the Environmental Protection Agency released a 190-page report explaining how it plans to conduct a study of the impact of shale gas on drinking water that should be ready by 2014. Meanwhile, the shale gas industry continues to boom.

    Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson

    Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson

    Tillerson brushes aside environmental concerns as manageable and overblown. He regards the shale surge as unambiguously good news for the U.S. and the world, the latest triumph for an industry that periodically invents new ways to find and harness fossil fuels from the earth. "The most important thing for people to understand about shale gas is it's just yet the next big resource opportunity for us," he says. "The world's economy has a voracious appetite for energy, so thank God we can do this."

    But the growth of shale gas is also, he believes, part of a larger narrative as the world shifts to a greater reliance on so-called unconventional resources -- and we are at a decisive moment. To understand this transition, it's important to examine why the country's largest energy company is staking part of its future on shale and how it plans to make the most of its new resources.

    It's just after noon on a windy Tuesday in southeastern Oklahoma, and the rig at XTO Energy's Gayle 1-32H well is about to breach the Woodford Shale at a depth of 11,700 feet after 38 straight days of 24-hour drilling. Inside the kitchen of the doublewide that serves as both office and bunk for the crew, a group of XTO drilling and production supervisors are eating banana pudding out of paper cups and discussing the geological plan for the well. A monitor nearby shows the drilling progress in real time. A TV has Criminal Minds on mute.

    This is Singing Cowboy country. Gene Autry himself grew up nearby, and the area has always had a lot of ranching. Now Ardmore, the biggest municipality in the area, is experiencing a classic mining-town boom. The hotels are booked. The Wal-Mart is always busy. XTO has just started building a new two-story regional office off the Ardmore exit of I-35, and it's already considering an expansion.

    The rig at the Gayle well is a state-of-the-art piece of equipment that is drilling its first hole. It cost $18 million to build, and XTO has contracted it for three years at a cost of $24,000 per day. It's one of 12 rigs the company has running full-time in the Woodford right now. The company has 65 wells in the area, but it's now drilling at a pace to finish about 130 wells per year. "We're stepping things up here," says Guy Haykus, XTO's regional production supervisor. "Right now this is a limelight area."

    The Woodford holds a particular appeal for XTO and other shale drillers today because it produces a lot of "wet" gas. Regular natural gas, or "dry" gas, is mostly methane. That's what we use to fuel our stoves, heat our homes, and generate power at utility plants. But the price of dry gas has tumbled. Over the past decade, it has averaged $5.78 per million BTUs. Recently it fell below $2. Exxon and other companies have been shifting rigs to areas that produce a more complicated mix of hydrocarbons that includes "wet" natural-gas liquids such as ethane, propane, and butane. Those liquids are used as chemical feedstock or as additives in gasoline, and they fetch a higher price than methane right now.

    After the drill enters the Woodford, the crew at the Gayle site will slowly turn it sideways and then drill horizontally for another 5,000 feet through the shale. That makes it possible to hydraulically fracture a large section of rock from a single well. (See "How Fracking Works" graphic to the right.) It's the combination of horizontal drilling with fracking that has enabled the massive growth of shale gas production.

    The shale gas revolution began almost right underneath Exxon's feet. In the early 1980s a visionary, independent natural-gas driller named George Mitchell began experimenting with ways to get gas out of the Barnett Shale, which ranges all across the Dallas-Fort Worth area -- even under Exxon's headquarters in Irving, Texas. Geologists have always known that shale contains trapped gas and oil. In fact, shale is the deep layer of rock where much of the traditional natural-gas supply was "cooked." But extracting hydrocarbons from the rock was thought to be too difficult and expensive to justify.

    Mitchell, however, was convinced it could work. After nearly 20 years of trial and error, Mitchell Energy developed a formula for fracking with water and sand that worked spectacularly well. The company's production of natural gas in the Barnett soon spiked. In 2002, Mitchell, then 82, sold his company to Devon Energy (DVN) for $3.2 billion. Devon was able to combine its expertise in horizontal drilling with Mitchell's fracking techniques and boost production even more. Soon Devon and other companies were pulling huge amounts of gas out of the Barnett.

    Exxon was a little slow to recognize the magnitude of what was happening right on its doorstep. Not long after he became CEO in 2006, Tillerson decided to investigate. He formed a joint venture with an independent driller in the Barnett and leased a bunch of acreage. "I said, 'All right. Go out and develop a position, and my primary objective is I want to understand this, and I want to learn about it,' " says Tillerson. After about a year he sold off the assets. But the Exxon CEO had learned a couple of important things: First, that shale gas was going to be significant. And second, that Exxon was late to the party. Most of the best acreage in the established plays had already been leased, driving up prices.

    In July 2009, Tillerson got a call from the Jefferies & Co. oil and gas banker Jack Randall, an old friend from the marching band at the University of Texas. (Tillerson played the drums, and Randall the trumpet.) Randall, a member of the board of XTO Energy of Fort Worth, told Tillerson that XTO chairman Bob Simpson was interested in selling the company. XTO was an early player in the Barnett and had grown into the largest natural-gas producer in the U.S. Tillerson and Simpson began negotiating, and on Dec. 14, 2009, they announced a $41 billion all-stock acquisition of XTO by Exxon, with a 25% premium for XTO shareholders. The deal got a mixed reception from Wall Street. By the time it closed, a dip in Exxon's stock price had pushed the value down to $35 billion.

    Tillerson felt a bold move was justified. "The strategic decision I made was, Okay, we're going to enter this wholeheartedly, and we want a big position now," says Tillerson. "We can build it, and it will take several years for us to get to a material position. Or we can buy it." One factor in favor of buying it was that shale drilling is extremely labor-intensive compared with traditional oil and gas development. Rather than poking a hole in a big reservoir and letting the crude flow, shale development requires repeated drilling and fracking to unlock gas from new corners of a play. To Tillerson, retaining XTO's field engineers and executives, and their knowledge of shale development, would be key to making the merger successful.

    That imperative led the company to take a new approach to integrating XTO. Traditionally Exxon has been known for snapping up companies for their underlying assets and forcing its own ruthlessly efficient culture on the conquered. This was very different. Tillerson made it quite clear from the beginning that XTO would retain its own identity, and that, in fact, Exxon would be learning a thing or two from its new addition. He even coined a phrase for the process: reverse integration. Evidence of the subsidiary's continued autonomy was obvious at the drill site in Oklahoma. The engineers at the Woodford site wore XTO-branded hard hats, and their business cards said nothing about Exxon.

    Since the acquisition, XTO's proven shale gas reserves have increased 81%, through a combination of strategic acquisitions and development of existing acreage, to 82 trillion cubic feet -- enough to meet demand in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for 150 years. "Exxon made a bet on natural gas, and so far they are underwater, because the price of gas in the U.S. has collapsed," says Fadel Gheit, the longtime Oppenheimer energy analyst. "That doesn't mean that they are wrong, because their investment horizon is not the same as Wall Street's."

    Tillerson believes that the shale investments will pay off for Exxon over 25 to 30 years, a point he emphasized to analysts in March when explaining the company's careful approach to developing its shale assets. "Now, that is not the same model that all the other players out there would follow because they don't have the size," he said. "They don't have the technology resources, the research resources standing behind them. They don't have the financial resilience." He added, "We can be patient."

    Why is Tillerson so confident in the future of natural gas? In December, Exxon released its annual "Outlook for Energy," which is the company's view of future demand and consumption trends out to the year 2040. The biggest single theme in the research, which Exxon uses to guide its strategic planning, was the growing demand for electricity. Exxon estimates that worldwide electricity demand will increase 80% by 2040 as hundreds of millions in the developing world achieve a middle-class lifestyle. An increasing amount of that electricity will be generated by natural gas, which will pass coal as the world's second-largest fuel source, behind crude oil, by 2025.

    Exxon has been preparing to meet the emerging demand for natural gas for some time. In Qatar, which has huge natural-gas reserves in its offshore North Field, the company has invested heavily in facilities to produce and export liquefied natural gas, which is supercooled and transported in massive tankers. The company has a $15.7 billion LNG project in Papua New Guinea that will begin supplying gas in 2014 to customers in Asia. And Exxon is also a partner in the massive, Chevron-led, $37 billion Gorgon LNG project in Australia.

    Over the next five years Exxon plans to invest $185 billion in its business, most of it to explore for and develop new sources of oil and gas. The cost of the "next barrel" is on the rise, says Tillerson, as easy-to-access reservoirs are depleted. The company believes that deepwater projects will yield huge production gains in coming decades. It is working on a partnership to explore the Arctic and the Black Sea with Russian oil giant Rosneft, and last October it signed a deal to explore for oil in Kurdistan. But it's also counting on robust growth from unconventional new sources such as oil sands, tight oil, and, of course, shale gas.

    Just how much shale gas the U.S. has is a matter of some debate. The most common refrain, and one that President Obama used in his State of the Union speech, is that we now have 100 years of natural-gas supply in the U.S. from shale. That is based on a report issued last year by an industry organization called the Potential Gas Committee. But skeptics have pointed out that much of that total is "unproven." Because the development of shale is relatively new, most of the potential supply has yet to be fully explored. While it's certainly possible that some shale plays will turn out to be less rich than hoped, it's also possible that improving technology will allow Exxon and other drillers to extract even more than we can imagine today.

    With his silver hair, dark suits, and deep Texas drawl, Tillerson is the very picture of a big oil executive. In person, he comes across as relaxed and extremely comfortable in his own skin. Until, that is, the subject of environmental concerns and the media coverage of the shale gas boom comes up. Then suddenly his temper flashes. "I think we have to deal in facts," he says, his voice rising. "The assertions that our opponents make -- why don't you ask them to produce some facts, produce something? I mean, prove it."

    The U.S. shale gas industry employs some 600,000 workers, like these Texas roughnecks.

    The U.S. shale gas industry employs some 600,000 workers, like these Texas roughnecks.

    Tillerson believes the discourse about shale has been hijacked and distorted. He says that Exxon is transparent about its practices and points out, for instance, that the company was an early proponent of disclosing the chemicals that it uses in fracking. He argues that shale drillers are being held to an unrealistic safety standard. "What's happened is the tables have been turned around now to where we have to prove it's not going to happen," he says. "Well, that is a very dangerous exchange to get into because where it leads you from a regulatory and policy standpoint is to govern by the precautionary principle. And the precautionary principle will absolutely undermine the economy." He adds, "If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave."

    It's true that attacks on fracking have at times veered into fear-mongering territory. But shale drillers have often met legitimate claims of problems with defiance -- and caused themselves more trouble in the process. "Unfortunately, the industry's response too often has been just to argue that hydraulic fracturing can't possibly cause any problems," says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund and a member of the Energy Department's shale gas subcommittee last year. "When that kind of denial meets real and actual issues, the disconnect results in a lot of anger. And it erodes trust."

    It has also led to some resistance from shareholders. An advocacy group called As You Sow, representing a coalition of green-oriented investors, has proposed a shareholder resolution calling for Exxon to issue a report on the risks associated with its development of shale gas. In late March the Securities and Exchange Commission rejected a request from Exxon to exclude a vote on the resolution at its annual meeting in May. (A similar resolution last year garnered 28% of votes cast.) In its letter to the SEC, Exxon said that it was not subject to any fines or government-enforcement actions related to hydraulic fracturing. That may be true if you consider only the process of fracking itself, which happens deep underground. But a search of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection database shows that last year XTO was cited for 81 violations for its drilling activity in the Marcellus. And on Dec. 10, 2010, the company was fined $150,000 for "improper casing to protect fresh water."

    Shale gas drilling isn't going away. It's too important to the economy, and there's too much money to be made. The environmental impact also can't be totally eliminated. Fracking a typical well requires millions of gallons of water, which must then be disposed of safely. But many of the problems can be addressed. If drillers institute and follow high standards on cementing wells as they pass through aquifers and on proper handling of the water that flows back to the surface after fracking, spills and water contamination can be minimized. They can also lower the greenhouse gas impact of shale drilling by using "green completion" equipment that captures methane and volatile organic compounds from the drilling water and prevents them from escaping. This month the EPA is expected to finalize new regulations that make green completions mandatory on all new wells. The American Petroleum Institute, the industry's largest trade association, has argued that the industry needs more time to comply.

    Given Tillerson's long experience with fracking, it's perhaps not surprising that he takes criticism of shale drilling a bit personally. To him, the shale boom is a great example of the fundamental effectiveness of his industry -- the kind of achievement that always seems to be unappreciated. "We go through this every time we go to a new area to develop," he says. "It's just part of how society deals with having their energy needs met. What I find interesting about the U.S. relative to other countries is in most every other country where we operate, people really like us. And they're really glad we're there. And governments really like us. And it's not just Exxon Mobil. They admire our industry because of what we can do. They almost are in awe of what we're able to do. And in this country, you can flip it around 180 degrees. I don't understand why that is, but it just is."

    If Tillerson wants to fully realize the promise of shale gas in the U.S., he might need to figure out why.

    By DAN BERMAN | 4/13/12 12:14 PM EDT

    President Barack Obama on Friday released an executive order that will coordinate the administration’s activities on natural gas and perhaps answer criticism that the White House is trying to end hydraulic fracturing.

    The order creates a working group that includes various White House offices such as the Council on Environmental Quality and National Economic Council, as well as relevant cabinet departments and agencies like Interior, EPA and Department of Homeland Security.

    It comes on the heels of complaints by GOP leaders — including Mitt Romney — and the gas industry that too many departments are working on hydraulic fracturing regulations, potentially halting the growth of the industry.

    Over the past several months, numerous industry representatives have met with high level Office of Management and Budget officials — including Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs chief Cass Sunstein — to voice their concerns with the Interior Department’s upcoming well stimulation rule, which will govern fracking on federal lands, according to OMB records. A group of environmentalists met with OMB last week as well.

    Obama last July set up a similar coordination network for Alaskan onshore and offshore oil and natural gas exploration.

    Interior officials have said its rule will address well casing, wastewater disposal and fracking fluid disclosure. A preliminary draft of the rule was leaked in February, but Interior has yet to release an official draft of the rule.

    Next Tuesday, meanwhile, the EPA is scheduled to issue new air standards for oil and gas operations.

    Romney last week used a campaign stop at oil and gas operations company Mountain Energy Services in Tunkhannock, Pa., to attack the administration on fracking.

    “But now this president has eight different agencies trying to fight their way to become regulators of the gas extraction technology known as fracking,” Romney said. “And the intent, of course, is to slow down the development of our own resources.”

    For his part, Obama has repeatedly said natural gas is a key part of America’s energy mix.

    During his State of the Union address, Obama alluded to hydraulic fracturing without ever saying the words.

    “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years,” Obama said, echoing industry-backed estimates, and adding that gas extraction could eventually support as many as 600,000 jobs within a decade. “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”

    Unlike oil and gasoline prices, natural gas prices in the U.S. have continued to fall, this week dipping below the symbolic $2 mark for the first time in a decade.

    Obama also in his speech promised that all companies drilling for gas on public lands would have to disclose the chemicals they used — although that fell short of environmentalists' demands for full disclosure of all fracking chemicals anywhere — including on private lands, where much gas extraction occurs in places such as the Marcellus Shale. Obama also made no mention of the greens' call for giving the EPA the power to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

    Talia Buford and Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this report.

    This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro at 12:01 p.m. on April 13, 2012.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75108.html#ixzz1sKpw7px6
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    Apr 11, 2012

    Clean Growth NowHere’s a copy of a press release sent out by Clean Growth Now. Darren Suarez, Business Council of New York State Director of Government Affairs, is quoted as saying, “there is an unfounded belief that local bans don’t hurt anyone.”

    Here’s the full release:

    ALBANY, NY—As concern rises over potential impact of local moratoriums and proposed “home rule” legislation on the business environment and economy of New York and other states with shale resources, Ashbrook Center Legal and International Affairs Fellow Robert Alt—author of a detailed legal analysis on the subject (“A Policy Analysis of Local New York Laws Banning Oil and Gas Exploration”)—joined Clean Growth Now members to discuss this issue:

    New York’s goal has moved beyond determining how to responsibly develop the natural gas resources that lie below us in the Marcellus Shale. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has crafted a comprehensive regulatory framework in the form of the revised draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (rdSGEIS). This plan ensures that regulators will oversee safe development and hold operators to smart, strong requirements.

    Our aim now is resolving when New York can implement this carefully laid plan so that our state remains competitive in the market for energy development. Yet, certain developments threaten to stall this goal and the economic benefits it would bring.

    It’s legal quicksand,” said Robert Alt. “Not only do these bans erode property rights for local landowners, they have the effect of forcing individual towns down an unknown legal path where the only certainty is extensive legal costs and lost jobs.

    Rather than ‘open for business,’ these bans send the message that we’re ‘open to litigation,’” explained Brian McMahon, York State Economic Development Council (NYSEDC) Director. “Our communities face economic stagnation by way of local fiat while those in neighboring states experience economic growth, new job creation, and valuable tax revenue. The out-of-town activists peddling these local bans simply do not have a personal stake in growth.

    Darren Suarez, Business Council of New York State Director of Government Affairs, continued, “There is an unfounded belief that local bans don’t hurt anyone. This simply is not true. These local moratoriums are acting as investment repellant, depriving landowners of the just value of their mineral rights.

    gas protesters bcc job

    Seems that there is nothing acceptable to the environmental extremists who oppose gas exploration and drilling in New York State. This was a well attended event which was wonderfully presented by BCC providing some help to many unemployed job seekers. Still the protesters deemed it important to protest event none the less. Unlike other gas related events, this affair was very well protected from the gestapo acts of the typical protesters by a very diligent and professional group of law officers. Protesters were contained within a very limited area while job seekers had the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the many and varied jobs available related to the gas and drilling industries. A bright and shinny light on a cold spring day in Binghamton.

    The story of gas as the transition fuel between coal, and oil and renewable resources is in its infancy, and I am sure that we a nation and as residents of NYS will embrace the promise of a better tomorrow with great enthusiasm.JLCpulse

    I sure would like to be a fly on the wall listening in on the conversations these folks have had with their attorneys. What I wonder is whether all water wells should be tested in Susquehanna County, or for that matter any county where there is planned drilling. Years ago I lived on Valley View Road near Franklin Forks which is nearby the wells being blamed for water quality issues, and not far from Salt Springs State Park. I recall that the water out of my well was not crystal clear and there was always a strong sulfur smell and slime in the toilet tank, none of which disturbed me at the time. I never tried to light it!! Who knew? I wonder how I would react now in the hyper critical, big money environment that exists around gas drilling. I hope these folks resolve their issues fairly and equitably.JLCpulse
    By Laura Legere (Staff Writer) in The Scranton Times Tribune
    Published: April 11, 2012

    A Susquehanna C