Dear Friends, Landowners, and Natural Gas Supporters,
As you may know, the N.Y.S. Legislators came back in session Tuesday, April 17, 2012 after successfully completing the Budget for 2012-13.
Now that the budget is complete, legislators with anti-natural gas development perspectives (who have positioned themselves against the viewpoints of the JLCNY and landowners) will aggressively attempt to move legislation against natural gas development in New York State. Based on what may occur between now at the end of the legislative session, we may be asking you to express your support for safe and responsible natural gas development in order to assure that our interests are heard and advanced forward.
Below is an important and valuable summary prepared by our Albany consultant. In this summary is a review of the bills we are concerned about and watching closely and some other recent news from Albany.
Marcellus Shale Update
N.Y.S. Legislature:
On April 25, 2012, Senator Minority Leader John Sampson and the Senate Democratic Conference will be holding a Public Forum that will discuss the health effects and safety of hydrofracking. The forum will take place at the Legislative Office Building in Hearing Room B in Albany, from 11:00AM to 3:00PM. The forum will address 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).
On April 20, 2012, Senate Bill S7012 (Krueger) was introduced and referred to the Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to prohibiting the sale or use of any liquid waste product from hydraulic fracturing operations and requiring the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish rules and regulations concerning the proper disposal of waste products generated during the process of hydraulic fracturing.
On April 17, 2012, Senate Bill S3208 (Young) was amended and referred to the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee. This bill amends the Parks, Recreations and Historic Preservation Law, in relation to oil and gas drilling in Allegany State Park. This bill would require a surface access permit to be issued by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in order to extract privately owned oil or gas from beneath state-owned surface lands in Allegany State Park. These permits are subject to certain requirements and conditions and the application for such permits are subject to a detailed environmental review.
On April 4, 2012, Senate Bill S6903 (Avella) was introduced and referred to the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill requires a seismological impact study related to hydrofracking. This bill requires a school of geological sciences within the state university of New York conduct a comprehensive seismological impact assessment to examine potential geophysical impacts that may be caused by the extraction of natural gas using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. A seismological impact assessment shall mean a combination of procedures, method, and tools by which a policy, program, or project may be judged as to its potential effects on the seismic activity in the surrounding area, and the potential impact in New York State.
This bill also requires that prior to the commencement of such assessment the school must prepare a scoping document that will establish the parameters of the seismological impact assessment. The scoping document shall include the analysis required by this act, as well as any other analyses conducted, and shall be subject to public review, comment and revision. The bill also outlines the required analyses that need to be reviewed/examined. A draft of the seismological impact assessment must be released for public review and comment, followed by at least two public hearings regarding the findings of the draft. Upon the closing of the public comment period, the school of geological sciences shall categorize, review and respond to all public comments. If substantive changes to the seismological impact assessment are made as a result of public comments, such school of geological sciences must issue a revised draft. This revised draft shall similarly be subject to public comment and review, in compliance with the parameters set out for the initial draft. This is a new bill.
On April 4, 2012, Senate Bill S6895 (Grisanti) was introduced and referred to the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to prohibiting the use of wastewater for road and land spreading, for dust control or de-icing. This is a new bill.
On April 4, 2012, Senate Bill S6894 (Grisanti) was introduced and referred to the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to the creation of a geographic information system-based display to provide high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) information to the public. This bill requires establishes a geographic information system-based display, which is used to indicate the locations of permitted wells for HVHF. This system will also provide the location of public water supply wells and intakes, and the stage of the HVHF operation for each permitted well; including, but not limited to: the approximate percentage of the required water for HVHF fluid that has been accessed and stored on site, whether HVHF is in progress, and whether gas is being collected. Such information is required to be updated weekly and to be publicly accessible on the department's website. This is a new bill.
On April 4, 2012, Senate Bill S6893 (Grisanti) was introduced and referred to the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee. This is a bill relates to wastewater treatment of hydraulic fracturing fluids. This bill would prohibit that no publicly owned treatment works can and will accept wastewater associated with the exploration, delineation, development, or production of natural gas where high-volume hydraulic fracturing is utilized. This is a new bill.
On April 4, 2012, Senate Bill S6892 (Grisanti) was introduced and referred to the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to creating the "High-volume Hydraulic Fracturing Waste Tracking Program." This bill required that the Commissioner establishes a program for tracking the generation, transportation and receipt of liquid and solid waste associated with the production of natural gas where high-volume hydraulic fracturing is utilized. This is a new bill.
On April 4, 2012, Senate Bill S6891 (Grisanti) was introduced and referred to the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to high volume hydraulic fracturing natural gas production discharge notifications. This bill requires that any person responsible for causing a discharge of any substance used in or associated with processes related to the production of natural gas where high-volume hydraulic fracturing is utilized must immediately notify the department, but in no case later than two hours after the discharge. Within forty-eight hours of receipt of notification made pursuant of a discharge, the department will provide notification of this discharge to the general public through a new or existing database via its website, which will be updated daily. This is a new bill.
On April 2, 2012, Assembly Bill A9759 (Hanna) was introduced and referred to the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. This bill would amend the Environmental Conservation Law, in relation to requiring applicants to pay for the costs associated with monitoring their hydraulic fracturing operations. This bill requires that prior to issuing a permit for hydraulic fracturing the department will assess the costs of the permitted operation. If the actual costs to be expended on the permitted operation exceed the permit application fees paid by the applicant, the department can require that the State be reimbursed for costs which may be paid. This reimbursement can cover costs and expenses incurred for salaries and expenses for regular employees of  the department who may devote all or a part of their time to that particular project, except that is not intended  to apply to the salaries of the members of the department engaged only in general administrative work  in connection with the project. This is a new bill
Other Advocacy Efforts:
On May 15, 2015, the coalition of at least 50 environmentalist organizations, New Yorkers Against Fracking, are sponsoring an all-star concert event at The Egg in Albany, NY at 7:00PM; in order to raise awareness about hydrofracking and raise funds for the coalition. The concert event will feature musical artists such as: Medeski; Martin & Wood, Citizen Cope, and many others.
On April 23, 2012, it was reported that a coalition of at least 26 environmentalist organizations opposed to hydrofracking in New York plan to take part in a press conference scheduled for April 27, 2012 in Corning, NY, at the Radisson Hotel at 5:00PM. This press conference is at the same location that state Democrats are using for cocktails and fundraising, these Democrats include: Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, Democrat U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The coalition plans to unveil the results of a recent survey on public attitudes towards fracking at the event.
On April 18, 2012, it was reported that the Obama administration set the first ever national standards to control air pollution from gas wells that are drilled using hydraulic fracturing. Top officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that these new regulations would ensure pollution is controlled without slowing natural gas production. Drillers will now be given more than two years to employ technology to reduce emissions of smog- and soot-forming pollutants during that stage. The EPA will require drillers to burn off gas in the meantime, an alternative that can release smog-forming nitrogen oxides, but will still slash overall emissions.
On April 17, 2012, the Environmental Advocates of New York, an environmental organization whose mission is to protect the air, land, water, wildlife, and health of all New Yorkers, pressed the Senate Republicans to consider Senate Bill S4616 (Avella), which is currently in the Senate Rules Committee. This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law, to add a new section that would classify all waste resulting from oil or natural gas production activities as hazardous waste, if such waste meets the definition of hazardous wastes set forth in the Environmental Conservation Law. This section also directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to make all necessary changes to bring its rules and regulations into compliance. The same-as of the bill, Assembly Bill A7013 (Sweeney) passed in the Assembly on February 13, 2012, and was referred to the Environmental Conservation Committee in the Senate.
On April 11, 2012, sixteen environmental groups issued a letter to the NYSDEC in opposition to an effort put forth by landowners and companies in Tioga County, to conduct hydraulic fracturing using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). On March 29, 2012, it was reported that the Tioga County Landowners Association reached an agreement with gas drillers to begin developing the Marcellus Shale using liquid propane as a fracking agent. Brokers of the deal, between eCorp, GasFrac Energy Services, and the Tioga County Landowners Association, believe that fracking with natural gas is not included under a New York State moratorium that prevents drillers from using high volume hydraulic fracturing. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the members of the Tioga County coalition will form an LLC called Southern Tier Energy Partners to participate in the deal.
On April 6, 2012, it was reported that an energy landscape in the United States has shifted with the development of natural shale gas. According to Daniel Yergin, a former Harvard professor and author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the oil industry, hydrofracking in the US has doubled U.S. energy efficiency since the 1970s and that further doubling is still possible. Yergin believes that hydrofracking will be utilized as a bridge-way to new government fuel efficiency standards in order to continue to improve vehicle gas mileage, while improvements in other areas, such as the development of Boeing’s fuel-efficient Dreamliner aircraft, in order to continue to save energy.
On April 5, 2012, it was reported that a new Shale Resources and Society Institute based in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geology, will serve as a resource to help the public, policymakers and other stakeholders understand shale's potential as an energy resource. According to the Institute’s Director, John P. Martin, the goal of the institute is to provide accurate, research-based information on the development of shale and other unconventional resources.
On March 30, 2012, it was reported that a new statewide anti-natural gas coalition of over 50 organizations, New Yorkers Against Fracking, held a call-in action to Governor Cuomo’s office urging him to stand up  for New Yorkers’ health and ban natural gas development in New York State. Over a several day period, 3,464 calls to Governor Cuomo were documented.
With these concerns in mind, now would be a good time to remind Governor Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Martens that the support for Natural Gas is strong in NY and the reasons for proceeding to develop it are many.
Please go to the JLCNY website (www.jlcny.org/site), read the "Two Take Action Letters to Cuomo and Martens" posting, and complete the "Cuomo Take Action" first and the "Martens Take Action" second.
Then ask a few of your neighbors, friends, and family members to do the same.
While that may not seem very significant, until we need to address specific bills these simple actions will go a long way to helping all of us enjoy the benefits Natural Gas development will bring to our homes and communities.
Warm Regards,
Dan Fitzsimmons, President
Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.