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The following article is an outline and commentary about the attached PDF file "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas". Please download and read the PDF for the full story. JLCpulse

Published: Thursday, Jul. 28, 2011 - 12:41 pm

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2011 -- /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Who are the multi-million dollar foundations and activists, nonprofits, media groups and academics that are attacking the natural gas industry and its safe, effective hydraulic fracturing process? Who spreads myths and lies about a business that has created thousands of jobs and has delivered energy extracted from U.S. lands to millions of Americans, reducing our dependence on foreign countries?

In a report this week for Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Foundation, American Tradition Institute executive director Paul Chesser and research fellow Mark Newgent identify those who oppose natural gas development, and expose their financial incentives, their relationships to each other, and their misleading statements and outright lies about hydraulic fracturing (colloquially called "fracking").

Read "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas" ( http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/docLib/20110726_PB2307FrackAttack.pdf )

"Environmentalist groups and activists want you to believe that they — and by extension the land, water and air that we all treasure and want to protect — are endangered because so-called 'big' fossil-fuel companies allegedly have a huge advantage in spending on lobbying and messaging," said Chesser, who is also a senior fellow for the Commonwealth Foundation. "Our report shows that 'Big Green' also plays a big money game — often built on lies and distortions, which unlike energy, are useless to the public and harmful to the issues debate."

Among its revelations the report, titled "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas," exposes efforts by the Sandler-funded ProPublica, which to date has dedicated 120 articles to an assault on natural gas and hydraulic fracturing. Former subprime mortgage lenders Herb and Marion Sandler, who have joined George Soros in support of Center for American Progress and many other leftist groups, poured more than $9 million into ProPublica to help launch it on its mission. Herb Sandler serves as chairman of its board of directors.

Also examined in the report are the funding activities of the Heinz Endowments, overseen by liberal icon Teresa Heinz Kerry, which recently expanded its anti-gas funding dramatically. Among the Heinz grants were thousands of dollars for "outreach and organizing" and to "characterize pollution impacts" from drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. Another large Heinz grant went to a University of Pittsburgh public health center run by alarmist Conrad Volz, who left his position in April after several errors were found in a report where the natural gas industry was falsely accused of dumping carcinogenic agents into drinking water supplies.

In the Oscar-nominated movie "Gasland," activist groups Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future and PennEnvironment, and dozens of other national and state groups come under scrutiny in the report as well.

The 12-page expose is available for reading on the Commonwealth Foundation's Web site ( http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/ ) .

Read "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas" ( http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/docLib/20110726_PB2307FrackAttack.pdf )



By Steve Israel

Published: 2:00 AM - 07/24/11 Times Herald-Record, Record Online

Farmers do it. So do hunting camps. Now, the owners of some of the region's other huge swaths of undeveloped land — summer camps — are doing it too: leasing their property for gas drilling.

Most of the approximately 40 summer camps across the Delaware River in northern Wayne County, Pa., have signed lucrative leases with the Hess Corp. to drill for gas, according to Marian Schweighofer, executive director of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Association, which helped negotiate many of the leases, and planner Tom Shepstone of Honesdale, Pa., a paid consultant for the gas industry.

One of the region's largest, most renowned camp systems, the Ten Mile River Boy Scout camps on 12,000 acres near the Delaware River in Sullivan County, is actively monitoring the drilling and leasing of land above the gas-rich Marcellus shale — even though experts say the gas beneath that part of Sullivan is most likely not worth drilling.

"We're certainly paying attention to the situation," said William Kelly, a spokesman for the Greater New York Council, Boy Scouts of America.

"We have a piece of property that's attractive.

"But our only concern is the safety of the kids."

 

Camps see benefits to leasing

The camps that have leased land include some of the region's oldest, most famous sleepaways, including Tyler Hill Camp in Tyler Hill, Pa.; two camps run by the New Jersey YMHA-YWHA in Lakewood, Pa., Shoshanim and Nesher; one run by B'nai B'rith in Lake Como, Pa., the Perlman Camp; and the independent Camp Morasha, also in Lakewood.

The camps say leasing makes environmental and economic sense. The leases have already netted hundreds of thousands of dollars, with much more possible if drilling actually begins.

"Like any landowner, we want to maximize the value of our land," said Shalom Lamm, president of the corporation that owns Camp Morasha, which negotiated its own drilling restrictions. "We have the ulterior motive of making sure we thrive in the future. Knowing we have so many safety protections, like setbacks from water and restrictions on where and when they can drill, it made a great deal of economic and institutional sense."

 

A way to protect the land

The camp owners, who have hundreds of acres that go unused much of the year, are bordered by neighbors who have also leased their land for the controversial horizontal drilling process of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," which uses sand, water and chemical additives to extract natural gas.

So a few years ago, when leasing of the Marcellus shale first began, most of the camps joined the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance and signed leases that include stringent drilling protections. They include setbacks from lakes, cabins and water supplies, along with a surface development plan, in which the camp designates the area and time for drilling, which will not include the summer.

Since the camps signed leases, "fracking" along the Delaware is on hold until the Delaware River Basin Commission finalizes its regulations.

"It's bigger than us," says Harrell Wittenstein of the Perlman Camp. "If your neighbor does it, you have drilling, so we might as well be protected."

Jay Jacobs, who owns Tyler Hill, and is chairman of the New York State Democratic Party, agrees.

He knows critics of "fracking" say the process will pollute the water and hurt the land.

He and other camp owners believe the protections in their leases ensure the safety of their camps — and campers.

"The main thing is, we're looking to protect the water and the environment," he says, noting that any drilling would be as far away as possible from the 30 acres of actual camp on Tyler's Hill's 200 acres. "There wouldn't be any activity during the summer months and it wouldn't be anywhere near the campers."

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Pennsylvania's gain vs. New York's missed opportunity.

From The Wall Street Journal Digital Network- Review and Outlook-  July 26,2011

Politicians wringing their hands over how to create more jobs might study the shale boom along the New York and Pennsylvania border. It's a case study in one state embracing economic opportunity, while the other has let environmental politics trump development.

The Marcellus shale formation—65 million acres running through Ohio, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and southern New York—offers one of the biggest natural gas opportunities. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, recognized that potential and set up a regulatory framework to encourage and monitor natural gas drilling, a strategy continued by Republican Tom Corbett.

More than 2,000 wells have been drilled in the Keystone State since 2008, and gas production surged to 81 billion cubic feet in 2009 from five billion in 2007. A new Manhattan Institute report by University of Wyoming professor Timothy Considine estimates that a typical Marcellus well generates some $2.8 million in direct economic benefits from natural gas company purchases; $1.2 million in indirect benefits from companies engaged along the supply chain; another $1.5 million from workers spending their wages, or landowners spending their royalty payments; plus $2 million in federal, state and local taxes. Oh, and 62 jobs.

Statistics from Pennsylvania bear this out. The state Department of Labor and Industry reports that Marcellus drilling has created 72,000 jobs between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011. The average wage for jobs in core Marcellus shale industries is about $73,000, or some $27,000 more than the average for all industries.

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue says drillers have paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2006—and the numbers are swelling. In 2011's first quarter, 857 oil and gas companies and affiliates paid $238 million in capital stock and foreign franchise taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes and employer withholding. This exceeds by some $20 million the total payments in 2010.

The revenue department also identified some $214 million in personal income taxes paid since 2006 that can be attributed to Marcellus shale lease payments to individuals, royalty income and asset sales. And all of this with no evidence of significant environmental harm.

***

Then there's New York. The state holds as much as 20% of the estimated Marcellus shale reserves, but green activists have raised fears about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing and convinced politicians to enact what is effectively a moratorium.

Getty Images

A Minard Run Oil Company drilling team lowers steel pipe sections into a recently drilled 2100 foot gas well to "notch" the side walls before a high pressure fracturing takes place in Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania in 2008.

1shalestates
1shalestates

The Manhattan Institute study shows that a quick end to the moratorium would generate more than $11.4 billion in economic output from 2011 to 2020, 15,000 to 18,000 new jobs, and $1.4 billion in new state and local tax revenue. These are conservative estimates based on a limited area of drilling. If drilling were allowed in the New York City watershed—which Governor Andrew Cuomo is so far rejecting—as well as in the state's Utica shale formation, the economic gains would be five times larger.

Consider New York's Broome County, which borders Pennsylvania and from which you can spot nearby rigs. The county seat of Binghamton ought to be a hub for shale commerce, but instead its population is falling as its young people leave for jobs elsewhere.

A study commissioned by the county in 2009 found that Broome could support up to 4,000 wells, but drilling even half that number would create some $400 million in wages, salaries and benefits; $605 million in property income from rents, royalties and dividends, and some $43 million in state and local tax revenue.

The Broome analysis pointed to Texas, where Chesapeake Energy paid Dallas Fort Worth International Airport $180 million for drilling rights on 18,000 acres of airport property—$10,000 per acre. The airport receives a 25% royalty on the natural gas produced by airport wells—more than $28 million in fiscal 2008. The study also noted the boon that rising oil and gas property values have been to Texas landowners, tax authorities and school districts.

***

Governor Cuomo has said he wants to lift New York's moratorium, and the state's recently released draft rules are a step forward. But they must still undergo legal review and a public comment period that could bar New York drilling for the rest of this year, if not longer. New York will also still ban drilling in about 15% of the state's portion of the Marcellus and impose more onerous rules than other states on private property drilling. Such bows toward the obsessions of rich, big-city greens explain why parts of upstate New York are the new Appalachia.

As they look across their northern border, Pennsylvanians can be forgiven for thinking of New Yorkers the way Abba Eban once described the Palestinians: They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

This will be the next battleground for economic prosperity in upstate New York. One has to wonder when the costs to taxpayers for absolutely nothing will stop. We will have to pay close attention to assure that our interests are protected!!! JLCpulse

By Peter Mantius, on July 28th, 2011, Bulldog Blog

In New York State, the tension between the state’s authority to grant drilling permits for high-volume hydrofracking without notifying affected communities and the communities’ right to ban unwanted industrial activity is shaping up as the key legal battle over the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.

At stake is whether the gas industry will get relatively free reign to drill statewide or be hemmed in by a patchwork of local ordinances that confine new gas wells to industrial zones.

On July 1, the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a major portion of its revised draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for high-volume hydrofracking. The agency plans to begin issuing permits to frack the Marcellus shortly after it finalizes the GEIS later this year or in 2012.

Meanwhile, towns all over upstate New York are busy passing local bans on drilling. They cite municipal home rule law that vests towns with the police power to enact laws to protect and enhance their visual and physical environment.

The city of Buffalo and at least 11 other New York towns have enacted fracking bans, and seven counties ban fracking on county land. Another 20 towns either have bans under formal consideration or have strong movements pushing for a ban or a moratorium on drilling.

The gas industry says they’re all wasting their time because the bans won’t hold up in court. It points to the law that gives the DEC exclusive authority to issue drilling permits. That law “supersedes all local laws related to regulation of oil and gas development except for local government jurisdiction over local roads and the right to collect real property taxes.”

At first, the DEC ignored the obvious legal conflict. In its first draft GEIS issued in 2009, it never addressed local bans. There weren’t many to address. But in its July 1 revised draft GEIS, the agency acknowledged home rule’s growing significance by requiring applicants for Marcellus drilling permits to “compare the proposed well pad location to local land use laws …” Any conflict “would trigger additional DEC review before a permit could be issued,” the agency said.

Asked whether he thought a local fracking ban would stand, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens has said, “The law is not perfectly clear….I think we’ll see some legal challenges along the way that will make that clearer.”

The DEC could hardly continue to ignore “home rule” issues after the state General Assembly passed a bill this year (A3245) that would have given the increasingly popular local bans more weight than the DEC’s authority to permit gas wells.

Its passage triggered alarms in the gas industry. “We have been warned that this bill may have a chance to make it through the Senate!” one pro-gas industry website declared in June. “This (S3427) is a dangerous bill.”

While the Senate never took up the bill before adjourning in June, anti-drilling advocates say reviving the home rule legislation is a top priority. Roger Downs, a lobbyist in Albany for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, told a panel audience in Ithaca July 25 that the bill is likely to come up if and when the state legislature meets in special session later this year.

A new law allowing communities to opt out of gas drilling would continue a pattern the DEC has established since Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Martens as the agency’s commissioner shortly after his own  inauguration in January.

While the DEC under Martens has laid out a path to drilling the Marcellus in New York, it has also banned it sensitive areas, reversing stances the agency had taken before this year. And it has pledged to codify those positions in state law. For example, the DEC is now proposing to ban high-volume fracking:

– In the New York City and Syracuse watersheds. While the DEC has acknowledged the special sensitivity of those unfiltered water systems since April 2010, it had previously stopped short of a ban because it feared the legal repercussions of denying property owners in those watersheds the chance to cash in on gas royalties.

– On the surface of state-owned lands, including state forests. The DEC had been defending the industry’s right to drill in the forests despite lawsuits alleging conflicts with the legislative intent behind the establishment of those protected areas.

– Within 500 feet of the boundaries of primary aquifers.

Downs of the Sierra Club speculated that the DEC’s new stances may fit with Cuomo’s presidential aspirations. He noted that the governor was highly successful during his first legislative session, winning on-time approval of a state budget and signing a law permitting gay marriage in New York State. The rise of his approval rating above 70 percent has fueled talk of a Cuomo presidential run in 2016. Downs said that as a presidential hopeful, he will need to have shown national leadership on fracking, and pressing for a statewide ban would hurt his chances of appealing to moderates nationwide. He’s chosen more targeted bans instead.  Only time will tell if that strategy extends to the issue of home rule.

Sentiment in favor of a local ban or moratorium on fracking tends to be strongest in and around the Finger Lakes, especially in communities dependent on wineries or lakeside vacationers who want to prevent the noise, air pollution and heavy truck traffic that come with intense drilling. But most of the communities that have enacted bans fall outside the prime target area for Marcellus drilling, according to industry spokesman Scott Cline. The prime territory is just north of New York’s border with Pennsylvania around Binghamton, and most communities in that area aren’t keen on bans, Cline noted.

Speaking July 27 at Keuka College, which is near several communities that have passed drilling bans, Cline said, “It’s unlikely you’ll see Marcellus drilling in the Finger Lakes.” A possible exception to Cline’s generalization is the Cooperstown area near Lake Otsego, which has a tourism-dependent economy and does fall in prime Marcellus drilling territory. Four towns in Otsego County have already banned fracking and at least a half dozen others are considering that path. That means Otsego County is a likely flash point for the coming legal battle over the enforceability of local drilling bans. Those who argue pro and con are already forming battle lines.

Helen Slottje, an attorney in Ithaca, has been researching case law and developing legal strategies for fracking bans for at least two years. The team opposing bans includes Tom Shepstone, campaign manager for EnergyInDepth’s Northeast Marcellus Initiative. He called the bans “Potemkin Laws” in references to the fake villages meant to impress the Empress Catherine II in the 18th century Russia. Shepstone described the bans as “artificial constructs designed to fool others into thinking local officials have taken meaningful actions when, in fact, they’ve done nothing but create a temporary obstacle at great risk to the taxpayers who will have to pay the bill for their foolishness.” And Michael P. Joy, an energy attorney with Biltekoff & Joy in Amherst, N.Y., predicted that town drilling bans will prove to be “costly to manage and impossible to win.”

But Slottje points to a 1996 court decision that held that a municipality isn’t obligated to permit the exploitation of its natural resources if limiting that activity is a “reasonable use of its police powers to prevent damage to the rights of others…” Speaking as a panelist in Ithaca July 25, she said courts have shown  “incredible deference to local governments” in similar cases. That pattern of deference suggests that fracking opponents have reason to be optimistic about the bans’ chances in court challenges, she added. Slottje said her optimism does not extend to another hot-button legal issue dear to some anti-drilling activists: equal protection. They have suggested challenging the fracking bans in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds as a violation of the equal protection rights of citizens with private water wells who are left exposed to drilling. They shouldn’t get their hopes up, Slottje added.

Equal protection arguments are difficult to make stick in court, unless they are brought by an easily identifiable class of victims, such as a particular race or religious group. When the affected class is a good portion of the general population, the courts tend to defer to the state’s agenda if they have reasonable justification, she said. So while equal protection challenges are still likely, they face more of an uphill legal battle than home rule cases, Slottje concluded.

Joy of Biltekoff & Joy strongly disagrees that home rule will prevail over state authority. He stresses the provision in New York Environmental Conservation Law that states that the DEC’s rights to issue drilling permits “shall supersede all local laws and ordinances.”

We are proud to have representatives of the JLCNY available to provide information, documentation and insight for all those interested in learning more about safe effective leasing and drilling of gas wells. Please stop in and visit with us, we will be happy to spend some time with you. You may follow this link for information about the Broome County Fair.  http://www.broomecountyfairny.com/

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