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 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JLCNY Opposes Permanent Hydraulic Fracturing Ban in New York

BINGHAMTON – January 23, 2020

Contact: Dan Fitzsimmons, JLCNY, 607 775-5821 

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York issued the following press release in response to Governor Cuomo’s proposed permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing:

 

Dan Fitzsimmons, President of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York said: 

It would be unwise for Governor Cuomo to hamstring future administrations that will be called upon to make energy decisions for New York. It is impossible to predict the long term energy future of this State, changing energy needs and emerging technologies. There will be innovations in energy that have not yet been imagined. New York should take appropriate actions to promote clean air and clean water through all available technologies and resources. But, it would be a mistake to limit our future energy options with a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing.

We must ensure that our State and Nation's electricity is affordable, reliable, safe, secure and clean and that it can be produced from all domestic sources, including renewable sources. Governor Cuomo, please do not jeopardize our long term energy future.

 

About The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York

The mission of The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is to foster, promote, advance and protect the common interest of the people as it pertains to natural gas development though education and best environmental practices. JLCNY gathers and provides factual, objective information about safe and responsible natural gas development to landowners and community members. ###

JANUARY 16, 2020

New York and Pennsylvania share a border and access to the Marcellus Shale – the largest natural gas field in the United States. But they do not share similar approaches to energy development. Pennsylvania has harnessed the potential of the Marcellus Shale and fracking technology. New York has taken the opposite approach by banning fracking and using creative legal tactics to try and block pipelines in the state. These divergent energy policies have had a major impact on each state’s economy and population.

The Empire State’s economic performance since the end of the Great Recession hasn’t been especially outstanding, roughly equaling the US averages for growth in private employment and gross domestic product. But a closer look reveals a tale of two New Yorks.

The 12-county metropolitan region that includes the Big Apple, with a population of 13.3 million, has gained jobs and grown personal income much faster than the nation. But the other New York — home to 6.2 million in the 50 counties north and west of Dutchess and Orange counties in the mid-Hudson Valley — has trailed far behind most of the country. In fact, much of upstate has yet to recover from the downturn.

Since the recession ended, upstate has gained private-economy jobs at a third the national rate and less than a quarter the downstate rate. Only three states (Connecticut, West Virginia and Wyoming) had slower private-job-creation rates than upstate. Twenty New York counties, all ­upstate, still lagged their prerecession private-employment levels in spring 2019. Upstate’s once-mighty manufacturing sector has been ­especially weak over the past decade, losing jobs even as manufacturing employment rose nationally for the first time in half a century.

After peaking at nearly 9 percent in January 2011, the statewide jobless rate has dropped by more than half, reaching near-historical lows in some areas. But unlike in New York City, unemployment upstate has declined because fewer people are looking for work — not because more are working.

From 2009 to ’18, only five states registered lower personal-income growth than upstate New York. Some of the state’s weakest income-growth rates were in Southern Tier counties that would have had the most to gain from shale-gas production, via “fracking,” before Gov. Cuomo banned it in 2014. Downstate, meantime, personal income jumped faster than the national average.

Upstate trends are consistent with a national pattern of rural and small-city decline. Yet in New York state, the cycle of decline dates back earlier — at least to the 1980s.

Why is upstate New York notably weaker than comparable areas in the Midwest? Higher taxes are part of it. Upstate employers also must deal with some of the ­nation’s highest workers’-compensation ­insurance rates, a uniquely expensive liability standard on construction projects, a state “environmental-quality” law that makes it easier to slow down ­development, mandated union preferences for all public works and most recently a virtual ban on ­the expansion of natural-gas pipelines.

The ideological shifts in Albany are casting more clouds. In 2018, Democrats took control of the state Senate for only the third time since World War II with their largest majority in more than a century. Members from New York City and its suburbs now dominate both chambers; more lawmakers than ever are committed progressives.

During his more moderate, first-term incarnation, Cuomo initiated some pro-growth policies beneficial to upstate. But more recently, he has veered aggressively leftward, signing virtually every major piece of progressive legislation that made it to his desk in 2019. These included the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which will embolden the governor’s war on fossil-fuel infrastructure, along with his aggressive push for solar panels and offshore wind-turbine projects.

One result of this deep-green agenda will be higher electricity costs upstate, where utility rates had remained roughly in line with or even below national norms. Cuomo also signed a law extending New York City–style rent regulations to upstate communities that already have ample affordable housing.

In yet another blow, the Legislature passed a Cuomo-supported farm-labor rights and unionization bill, even as the New York Farm Bureau and other industry groups denounced it as costly and unbalanced in its treatment of family farms.

Upstate’s decline isn’t good news for New York City, though. Thanks to the state’s redistributive ­income-tax and aid formulas, the poorer and less self-sufficient the region gets, the more it will ­depend on subsidies from higher-income households and businesses downstate. Instead of exploiting their political dominance, downstate Democrats would better serve their own interests by sparing upstate from their version of “progress.”

E.J. McMahon is research director at the Empire Center for Public Policy and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Adapted from City Journal. Twitter: @EJMEJ

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced legislation in the FY 2021 Executive Budget to make New York's fracking ban permanent. The measure would restrict the Department of Environmental Conservation from approving permits that would authorize an applicant to drill, deepen, plug back or convert wells that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a means to complete or recomplete a well, protecting the health of New Yorkers and ensuring permanently that our environment is not harmed by this practice. This bill reflects an important step forward toward achieving New York's clean energy economy goals.

 

"New York's leadership on hydraulic fracturing continues to protect the environment and public health, including the drinking water of millions of people, and we must make it permanent once and for all," Governor Cuomo said. "In the five years since fracking was banned, we have proven that it was in fact, not the only economic option for the Southern Tier. The region has since become a hotbed for clean energy and economic development investment through programs like 76West and Southern Tier Soaring, creating new good-quality jobs that pave the way for further growth."

 

High-volume hydraulic fracturing utilizes a well stimulation technique that greatly increased the ability to extract natural gas from very tight rock. High-volume hydraulic fracturing, which is often used in conjunction with horizontal drilling, raises significant, adverse impacts. In 2014, a review by the NYS Department of Health found significant uncertainties about health, including increased water and air pollution, and the adequacy of mitigation measures to protect public health. Given the red flags raised by existing research and absent conclusive studies that disprove health concerns, DOH recommended that the activity should not proceed in New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation officially prohibited the practice in 2015, concluding a comprehensive seven-year review process that examined potential environmental and health impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing. New York's was the first ban by a state with significant natural gas resources.

 

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Cuomo has detailed the biggest and boldest environmental agenda in the nation, and the permanent ban of hydrofracking is a critical part in ensuring the protection of water quality, transitioning from fossil fuels, and continuing our role as a climate leader. "

 

Actor and Environmental Advocate Mark Ruffalo said, "I join with environmentalists, health experts, and New Yorkers everywhere in applauding Governor Cuomo for including legislation in the budget to make the fracking ban permanent law. The science overwhelmingly shows that fracking is disastrous for drinking water, public health, and climate change. Permanently banning fracking is what real environmental and climate leadership looks like."

 

In 2017, Governor Cuomo along with the Governors of Delaware and Pennsylvania, comprising a majority of the Delaware River Basin Commission, announced that they voted in favor of a resolution put forward by the commission to issue draft regulations to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in the Delaware River Basin. This action further protected the public health of communities in New York and a precious water supply for more than 15 million people.  

 

In the wake of the ban, the clean energy ecosystem in the Southern Tier has grown rapidly over the last five years, fueled by a variety of programs and resources. New companies have sprouted in the Southern Tier with innovations in a wide variety of clean energy sectors, supporting over 4,100 jobs as of 2017. Examples of this industry density include the success of 76West Clean Energy Competition, new business like Imperium3, Sungeel, and Micatu locating in the ST, and the most recent spotlight on the region's clean energy expertise with the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Binghamton University's Stan Whittingham. These efforts have been bolstered by Southern Tier Soaring, the URI-winning strategic plan developed by the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council.

Pavillion, Wyoming has been a star in the fractivist sky for some time. It made a feature-performer out of Gasland hero John Fenton, but the star has fallen.

The Wyoming County Department of Environmental Quality has studied Pavillion, the site of one of the greatest of fractivist myths, for six long years and just concluded, for the second time, that natural gas development is not responsible for groundwater issues in that community. A final report titled Final Pavilion, Wyoming Gas Field Domestic Water Wells Report on Recommendations for Further Investigation was recently released this week. It’s the end of the road for anyone taking John Fenton, Josh Fox or Desmog Blog seriously.

Here’s what Desmog Blog, an on-line public founded by a convicted felon, published slightly some four years, based on input from Gasland and Grassroots Solution performer, John Fenton:

John Fenton, of Pavillion, WY, described his sense of hope when EPA first arrived to conduct tests on the drinking water in his hometown.

“One of the biggest things for us is that we tried for years and years and years to get the state of Wyoming to come and listen to the problems that we were having and were constantly met by excuses of not having money or manpower or scientific knowledge. So therefore when we actually got EPA to agree to come in and do a groundwater study, we were very excited that we got some knowledge and some people that were trained to specifically look at the issues that we were dealing with.”

But in 2013, the EPA abandoned its investigation into the water contamination in Pavillion. “The EPA folded,” Mr. Fenton said.

He criticized the draft assessment for failing to include the type of new research that EPA had originally planned to conduct. When the draft’s conclusions after years of research was first published, those who hoped that the new report would help resolve questions swirling around fracking were largely disappointed, with scientists describing the EPA’s approach as largely a review of the current literature. Plans to conduct tests at a site before and after fracking had been slashed from EPA’s study, and EPA also heavily relied on data that was self-reported by drillers.

“This has to be an on the ground study,” Mr. Fenton told the panel. “This has to be more inclusive with the people who are directly impacted, not just the people who are making profit from this.”

Well, EPA may not have done the study Fenton wanted, but it did a very thorough job and the Wyoming County Department of Environmental Quality just spent six years conducting an exhaustive study of Pavillion specifically and here’s what it found, courtesy of Energy In Depth (see also this).

Here are the top three things to know from WDEQ’s analysis of more than 11,000 water samples in its 2016 report and an additional 3,650-plus in the Final Report:

Fact #1: Methane in domestic water wells is not from oil and natural gas development.

Further, after years of investigating groundwater in the region, WDEQ determined that methane detected in domestic water wells was not from oil and natural gas development:

“Gas in the upper Wind River Formation appears to have originated mainly from upward migration from deeper commercial gas-bearing zones and evidence suggests that upward gas seepage (or gas charging of shallow sands) was happening naturally before gas well development . . .[t]he general chemical characteristics (major cations and anions) of the groundwater from the water-supply wells . . . are consistent with those reported for the Wind River Formation across the Wind River Basin.” (emphasis added)

Fact #2: Inorganic compounds detected above drinking water standards are naturally occurring.

Analysis of samples taken from 13 water wells in 2014, 2017, and 2018, found:

“Inorganic compounds that were found over applicable drinking water standards are generally associated with naturally occurring salts, metals and radionuclides.”

“[N]o organic compounds were identified at concentrations exceeding applicable drinking water standards.” (emphasis added)

Fact #3: Fracking fluid did not migrate into the water.

In a blow to environmental activists who have spent years trying to push the narrative that fracking was the cause of groundwater issues in the community, WDEQ clearly dispels this myth:

“Evidence does not indicate that hydraulic fracturing fluids have risen to shallow depths utilized by water-supply wells. Also, based on an evaluation of hydraulic fracturing history, and methods used in the Pavillion Gas Field, it is unlikely that hydraulic fracturing has caused any impacts to the water-supply wells.” (emphasis added)

Conclusion

Activists have tried for years to keep the Pavillion narrative alive as an example of oil and natural gas contamination. But numerous investigations from state and federal regulators spanning several years continue to show these claims lack merit.

WDEQ’s Final Report further solidifies what the agency said in 2016: Oil and natural gas activities are not responsible for groundwater quality in Pavillion. And with this, it appears the book is finally closed on the palatability investigation in the region.

I can’t improve on that. But, I can note this is the falling from the sky of one of the greatest of fractivist myths. The truth always emerges in the end and the Pavillion claims of Fenton, Fox and other fractivists are now mere fallen stars, briefly bright but burned up in an atmosphere of facts.

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