Found on Capital Tonight

The Independent Oil and Gas Association, a consortium of energy companies that are pushing for high-volume hydrofracking in New York, released a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon expressing deep-seated exapseration and impatience with the drawn out regulatory process.

The IOGA letter is perhaps the most strongly worded missive from the industry group during the entire rule-making, which is expected to last beyond the key Nov. 29 deadline when the public comment period is due to be re-opened.

The Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Health are finalizing a health-impact study of fracking, the controversial natural gas extraction process, and announced last week that three experts have been contracted to sort through the guidelines.

But IOGA is upset that the regulatory period will be likely extended in to the new year.

In language that seems calibrated to knock at Cuomo’s soft spots for economic development and government accountability, the group writes that the economy of the state is being hurt by the delay and claim that member companies are now “exhausted” when it comes to trusting the state.

Update: Katherine Nadeau of Environmental Advocates of New York has a statement in response to the letter.

“IOGA’s statement says it all – the gas companies believe the state should care more about their bottom line than the public health and well being of the millions of New Yorkers who will be affected if fracking is permitted,” she said. “New Yorkers are looking to Governor Cuomo to ensure that the many significant questions about fracking’s impacts are answered before permitting can be considered.”

From the letter:

IOGA of NY and its members have waited patiently for, and worked diligently toward, the finalization of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) and the new regulations that would govern future oil and natural gas development in New York,” the group wrote in the letter. “Our companies – good employers with good jobs paying good salaries – have labored to maintain a presence in New York during this prolonged delay, but many have lost employees and opportunity to other states. Most of our business owners have developed oil and natural gas – or provided goods and professional services to the industry in New York – for decades. They truly wonder what type of future they now have in this state. Our companies need a signal that their state government cares at all.

The full letter is after the jump.

Cuomo has charted a very cautious path on high-volume hydorfracking, a method that could generate profitable dividends for the moribund upstate economy, particularly the state’s Southern Tier. But the vocal environmental lobby, a key consitutency of the Democratic Party both here in New York and nationally, have pointed to fracking’s effects on water and property and accidents across the border in Pennsylvania.

Cuomo has repeatedly insisted his decision on fracking will be based on the science and has urged both sides to ease their rhetoric.

November 19, 2012

Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, New York State
Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol
Albany, New York 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

On behalf of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, with more than 400 members, I write regarding recent published reports of the appointment of three “experts” by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) to review the proposed guidelines for high volume hydraulic fracturing.[i]

Previous to these reports, our members had been hopeful that the permit guidelines and regulations relating to drilling in the Marcellus Shale would be finalized and released by November 29, 2012. It now appears that the health study will not be finalized later this month, further delaying the issuance of regulations until sometime next year.

As of today, New York’s moratorium on opportunity has now lasted 4 years, 3 months, and 27 days (since first imposed on July 23, 2008). As we have said many times previously, this delay is harmful to energy policy in New York, and hugely detrimental to the upstate New York economy. We have also been frank that the existing industry is suffering from this delay. Our member companies are now well past the tipping point, and our trust in our state government now exhausted.

IOGA of NY and its members have waited patiently for, and worked diligently toward, the finalization of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) and the new regulations that would govern future oil and natural gas development in New York. Our companies – good employers with good jobs paying good salaries – have labored to maintain a presence in New York during this prolonged delay, but many have lost employees and opportunity to other states. Most of our business owners have developed oil and natural gas – or provided goods and professional services to the industry in New York – for decades. They truly wonder what type of future they now have in this state. Our companies need a signal that their state government cares at all.

The impacts of delay are real. Just 3 years ago our industry supported 5,000 jobs in upstate New York, due largely to the ongoing exploration of vertical wells across the Southern Tier. New permit requests to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation have dropped sharply in recent months and in 2012 will be far fewer than the nearly-600 permits usually issued. It would be hard to not overstate the dramatic unattractiveness of New York to our industry. The lives and livelihoods of hundreds of New York families are now at great risk. The unnecessary delay in concluding this rulemaking process is a serious problem for the upstate economy.

Accordingly, Governor, we urge you to release the SGEIS and let our industry begin the work of trying to recover.

Respectfully submitted,

Brad Gill
Executive Director

Dear Friends and Natural Gas Supporters,

The JLCNY has issued a response to recent comments regarding the NYS Department of Health's Health Impact Assessment of the SGIES and the timeliness of that review. Please read the attached "JLCNY - Health Impact - Letter 112012" PDF file to learn more. In addition, attached is an initial media response to our letter (the "Letter Article" PDF file) that you might like to read as well.

Finally, also attached is an article about the Assessment in general. In the "gov-fracking-regs-delayed" PDF file please note the highlighted comments made by one of the assessment panelists indicating she expected to complete her work sooner rather than later.

PDF Attachments

Now there's something to wish for as you grab hold of your half of the turkey's wishbone.

Have a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving everyone!

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


  • By Dave Quast   Posted November 17, 2012 at 3 p.m. in Ventura County Star

  • Normally, in a time of significant unemployment, seeing a help wanted ad is a good thing. That is, unless the ad has been placed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), in which case you can be sure that part of the job description involves actually killing thousands of jobs.

    You may remember the CBD. It is the same extreme activist group that led the effort to impose water rationing in the Central Valley in the name of a tiny fish, the delta smelt, regardless of the human cost. Now hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland sit fallow and thousands and thousands of jobs have been lost. The staggering unemployment in the region is a scandal.

    Now, the CBD is taking aim at another pillar of California's economy — oil and natural gas. For more than 150 years, California has been one of the nation's leading oil producers. In fact, as Gov. Jerry Brown said earlier this year: "California is the fourth-largest oil producing state and we want to continue that."

    Why? Because in other states, there's an economic renaissance happening right now thanks to the development of oil and gas trapped in deep shale deposits, and it could be repeated here in California. The state's Monterey shale is estimated to contain more than 15 billion barrels of oil. That's five times bigger than the Eagle Ford shale in Texas, which supports 47,000 jobs, contributes more than $600 million a year in revenue for state and local governments, and generates about $25 billion in overall economic activity, according to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

    Good news, right? Not for the extremists at the CBD. Accessing oil and gas in deep shale deposits requires the combination of a technology called hydraulic fracturing, which has been safely used in this country more than a million times since the 1940s, and advanced drilling methods.

    So, as part of their ongoing ideological crusade against domestic energy production, the CBD and other activist groups have recently started campaigning for a ban on hydraulic fracturing — which they insist on calling "fracking" to make it sound scary.

    That's what the CBD's help wanted ad is all about. The group wants a lawyer to help escalate its "anti-fracking campaign," which falsely claims presents "grave threats to public health." The CBD does need a really good lawyer because those claims aren't even remotely true.

    Just listen to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: "There's a lot of hysteria that takes place now with respect to hydraulic fracking," he told Congress earlier this year. "It can be done safely and has been done safely hundreds of thousands of times."

    That was also the conclusion of a recent court-ordered study of hydraulic fracturing at the Inglewood Oil Field near Los Angeles, which detected no environmental or public health impacts from the use of this technology.

    Despite this, the CBD has already filed a lawsuit against the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, demanding that the agency ban hydraulic fracturing, never mind that it is currently drafting new regulations on the process, and that California already has some of the toughest, if not the toughest, environmental laws in the United States.

    The fact that the CBD, and other fringe groups, are escalating their campaign against the state's energy producers should be a concern to all Californians. If they succeed, the state will be robbed of tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in tax revenue and economic activity.

    We are fortunate to live in a state with abundant natural resources and laws in place to ensure those resources are developed responsibly. The oil and gas industry welcomes a debate over the state's energy future, but in these tough times, environmentalists shouldn't be using the courts to put the brakes on our economy.

    If you think that isn't a real possibility, just ask a Central Valley farmer.

    November 20, 2012

    Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor, New York State
    Executive Chamber, NYS Capitol
    Albany, New York 12224


    Commissioner Joseph Martens
    Department of Environmental Conservation
    625 Broadway, 14th Floor
    Albany, NY  12233-1010

    Dear Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Martens:

    On behalf of the Joint Landowner s Coalition of New York (JLCNY), I am writing to express our strong disappointment in your recent comments that the release of the final draft SGEIS and the corresponding regulations will be extended beyond November 29, 2012.  The JLCNY has supported and continues to support best environmental practices concerning natural gas development, but fails to see the purpose, or benefit, of yet another delay.

    As you have said, reliable available science and studies should guide us in a straightforward simple review of health impacts related to the proposed safeguards defined by the DEC in its SGEIS. To extend the process beyond November 29, 2012 is an insult to the tremendous efforts of your DEC experts, taxpayers and all of us who have strived diligently to contribute reliably to this over four year process.

    The JLCNY representing 77,000 New York landowners have been active and substantive contributors to the dialogue for careful development over the past four years.  Our families and friends are physically the closest to the potential impacts of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) and have the utmost responsibility to inform ourselves and our government about HVHF.  Our self-interest is in protecting our generations-old properties, our families’ health, communities and our basic economic and property rights.

    Our organization has advanced numerous constructive recommendations to require better handling of produced water at the well site, to include reduced air emission “green” completions, to require repair to surface disruptions and other tangible improvements to protect community impacts.  We want to ensure that New York is at the forefront of the safeguards for natural gas development. We recognize that natural gas will power our economies, lead to more affordable energy options and have positive environmental impacts on air quality and greenhouse gasses.

    On air emissions, states and the Federal government (US Environmental Protection Agency) have already done substantial work on health issues.  For example, on April 17, 2012, the EPA issued regulations to reduce air pollution from the oil and gas industry.    “A key component of the final rule is expected to yield a 95 percent reduction in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) emitted from more than 11,000 new hydraulically fractured wells each year.  This significant reduction would be accomplished primarily through the use of a proven process – known as a “reduced emission completion” or “green completion” – to capture natural gas the currently escapes to the air”   (EPA OVERVIEW OF FINAL AMENDMENTS TO AIR REGULATIONS FOR THE OIL AND NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY).

    We also refer you to important activities at the state level.  In Colorado, “The EPA’s approval of the Regional Haze Plan is a ringing endorsement of a comprehensive and collaborative effort between many different groups," Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper said. "Colorado’s utilities, environmental community, oil and gas industry, health advocates and regulators all came together to address air quality. We embrace this success as a model for continuing to balance economic growth with wise public policy that protects community health and our environmental values.”   The plan implements sweeping public health and environmental protections by reducing pollution through emissions controls, retiring coal-fired power plants and converting certain electric generating units from coal to cleaner burning natural gas. (Press Release, Office of the Governor of Colorado, September 11, 2012

    In the JLCNY’s comprehensive comments to the SGEIS submitted in January, we recommended that the NYSDEC petition the New York State Public Service Commission to allow pipelines to be installed so that natural gas completions at well sites could be conducted as reduced emission completions.

    To review air emission impacts, we would encourage turning attention to a review of existing expert studies concerning air pollution from natural gas development, such as the “City of Fort Worth Natural Gas Air Quality Study: Final Report” published July 13, 2011.  This report is the most useful because it reviews an area with both a high population density and extensive natural gas development with hydraulic fracturing.   Please see the attached Appendix 1 for key language from the “Conclusions and Recommendations” portion of the final report.  We also recommend that you review the Health Watch by the Australian Institute of Petroleum Health Surveillance Twelfth Report from the University of Adelaide Department of Public Health.  This report follows workers in the oil and gas industry for decades and compares their health and mortality with the general population.

    While the JLCNY works to provide constructive solutions, paid professional activists are increasingly targeting everything related to energy, even natural gas pipeline projects and elements essential to powering job creating factories, reducing school and consumer heating costs, and firing power plants to serve major load demands as called for under the Governor’s Energy Highway Blueprint just released.  The activists have been offering  good paying compensation packages to hire obstructionists from Long Island to Buffalo and all metro areas to halt all energy related development (see Food & Watch announcements; Appendix 2).  Continued delay only empowers these paid professional activists whose goals are to stall shale gas drilling and all forms of progress to build a viable energy infrastructure.

    Our message is simple and clear.  We respect the State’s need to be diligent in its efforts.  We also recognize that it is our obligation to contribute constructively to our self-government with reliable and well considered information.  After four years of analysis and preparation, there is no need to be influenced by paid professional activists. Health issues associated with natural gas development have been studied.  We, as neighbors to potential well sites, appreciate the need to ensure that health and safety concerns are appropriately addressed.  We have actively researched scientific studies, facts, and real life development to assure the best practices are observed.  The JLCNY continues to support best management practices on all aspects of natural gas development, including closed loop drilling, use of steel tanks to contain flowback, multiple pipe casings cemented to the surface, GPS units on trucks, stormwater pollution prevention plans, spill containment personnel on site, reduced emission completions, and meeting all present and future air quality regulations.

    Stable and affordable energy is essential for those desperately seeking a better future like seniors struggling to heat their homes, families striving to educate their children and keep them close to home, urban cities looking to produce power while reducing air emissions, small businesses struggling to attract new consumers and growth industries looking to innovate and expand across the State.

    Our members listened carefully to your promise that sound science and the facts, not baseless scare tactics and politics, would govern this process.   Delay beyond the November 29, 2012 despite having considered over 80,000 comments, is a breach of faith in our government and flies in the face of the promise that New York is beyond its dysfunction and truly open for new business investment.  We urge you to be guided by the important existing science and evidence captured by the experts within your agencies and to proceed without further delay.

    Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.
    Dan Fitzsimmons, President
    cc: Commissioner Shah
    I suspect that Cuomo has no political courage when it comes to the big national issues. He appears to stay isolated in his own tightly controlled world catering to pet special interest groups. The pain of his upstate landowner constituency is not felt in the least. I do wonder if he understands the nature of the changing tides both in global warming and election potential.JLCpulse
    • Posted: November 18, 2012 in New York Post

    If New York wants to help America toward its energy “golden age,” it had best get cracking on fracking.

    On today’s PostScript pages, Julian Borger and Larry Elliott note the stakes: US shale oil and gas, and the fairly new process to harvest them called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” are set to make America energy-self-sufficient in short order.

    Indeed, the country may well become a world leader in energy production — a historic shift that will throw the geopolitical order on its head, strengthening America economically and politically.

    “Exploitation of fields in states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania,” the authors note, “have transformed the US’s energy outlook pretty much overnight.

    “If all the known [US] shale gas resources were developed to their commercial potential . . .production could more than quadruple over the next two decades.”

    It’s just a matter of time, they suggest, that a self-reliant United States would have the world knocking on its door for energy.

    The economic perks alone are huge.

    Borger and Elliott cite fracking’s “direct impact on production and employment,” adding that the new industry-within-an-industry is “likely to support 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”

    A number of states — most notably, New York’s neighbor, Pennsylvania — are already seeing boom times from fracking.

    Alas, not New York. And it’s not for want of the gas and oil gold within its borders: No, the state’s Southern Tier is believed to hold some 20 percent of the roughly300 trillion to 500 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale region.

    That’s a lot of gas. And jobs.

    And energy output.

    The problem? In a word: leadership.

    With one eye on enviro-purists, who oppose the process, and the other on his political dreams, Gov. Cuomo can’t pull the trigger and OK fracking once and for all.

    Instead, he’s let Department of Conservation chief Joseph Martens erect roadblock after roadblock to delay approval, in perpetuity.

    Last week, the state Health Department finally named experts to examine “health impact” data from a fracking study the state supposedly finished long ago. (And never mind that federal studies have also long deemed the enterprise safe.)

    Yet, if the latest analysis and new fracking regulations aren’t ready by Nov. 29, the issue may have to go through a whole new round of public comment — extending the state’s current fracking ban even longer.

    Which brings us back to Borger and Elliott’s implicit point: More delay won’t just mean the loss of thousands of jobs to an upstate New York region desperate for them; it could also slow America’s emergence as an international energy powerhouse, no longer dependent on foreign oil.

    Question is: Does Cuomo care about any of that?

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