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By Michael Benjamin in NY Post 10/23/12

Two years from now, Gov. Cuomo will be running for re-election. It’s not too early to ask if he deserves our respect or our love.

That question comes courtesy of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who says it’s better to be “respected than loved.” That ethos has kept his policy agenda moving forward.

Cuomo, on the other hand, seems to have dropped his UnDemocrat persona — that refreshing, bold governing style that was decisive, free of political gamesmanship and unburdened by ideological baggage. These days, he seems anything but decisive.

Start with his endless navel-gazing over whether “to frack or not to frack.” The question should be how quickly to move ahead, to jump-start growth in a region whose economy is in serious cardiac arrest.

Cuomo: “UnDemocrat” has grown painfully indecisive.

Cuomo’s dithering has disheartened Southern Tier landowners, gas companies and New Yorkers eager for work.

In a recent Siena survey of economic confidence, 50 percent of New Yorkers said our nation’s best days are behind us. I have no doubt that the anemic upstate economy accounts for much of that pessimism — especially since the same poll showed wide support for increasing domestic oil and natural gas production.

Adding to the incoherence of his energy policy, he wants to close Indian Point and coal-fired power plants without first having in place any concrete plan or schedule for bringing replacement power online.

What of the rest of his economic policy? Cuomo seeks to expand gambling across the state and save the horse-racing industry. But his New York City convention-center casino plan died of embarrassment, with no replacement yet in place.

And his replacement board for the scandal-plagued New York Racing Authority is full of past board members.

Nor has he made any truly bold moves, such as reaching out to Indian gaming corporations or even looking to legalize professional mixed martial arts. These are low-hanging economic-development fruits, withering on the vine.

Reforming Albany’s political culture also seems to have slowed as a priority. The Cuomo-inspired Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) has been hobbled by leaks and weak leadership.

Some attribute Cuomo’s slippage to presidential ambitions: An UnDemocrat might not gain traction in the early primaries. And conventional wisdom says Cuomo can’t keep on cutting services and public-employee benefits and expect to survive politically.

But the governor should be more concerned about New Yorkers’ economic survival.

Rather than giving us another Power Point presentation, Cuomo should convene a Cabinet summit to address the state of his government. His administration must answer four questions: What are we doing that helps? What are we doing that hurts? What could we do better? What do our people and business community need?

In fact, Cuomo is posing those questions — but only to assess the effectiveness of his 10 regional economic development councils. He needs to turn the examining mirror on himself.

After all, he promised an open, transparent and self-critical government.

I suggest that he reboot the UnDemocrat, go back to overturning tables at the Capitol and driving forward an economic plan that uplifts all distressed communities.

Then he, like Christie, will learn that respect earns love.

Rival ad shows coal pic – not natural gas By FREDRIC U. DICKER in NY Post Last Updated: 3:41 AM, October 22, 2012   Posted: 12:36 AM, October 22, 2012

EXCLUSIVE

Anti-fracking activists led by a woman who says she talks to animals have distributed more than 140,000 copies of a “newspaper’’ that falsely claims a dramatic National Geographic picture of a West Virginia coal mine is a drilling site for natural gas, The Post has found.

The Flowback — The Costly Consequences of Hydrofracking, which is being distributed as an insert in 140,000 legitimate newspapers throughout New York’s gas-rich Southern Tier with help from a wealthy Manhattan-based environmental group, displays a grim color photograph of a mountaintop being destroyed by a large bulldozer under the heading “From My County to Yours, The Last Stand.’’

MINE, ALL MINE: This photo of a West Virginia coal mine by photographer J. Henry Fair was reused in a newspaper ad against natural-gas “hydrofracking” in New York.

 

MINE, ALL MINE: This photo of a West Virginia coal mine by photographer J. Henry Fair was reused in a newspaper ad against natural-gas “hydrofracking” in New York.

The photo is presented as a harrowing account by a woman named “Rose Baker’’ of alleged damage near her home caused by the controversial “hydrofracking’’ technique for drilling for natural gas.

However, J. Henry Fair, a prominent nature photographer who took the picture, and a spokeswoman for National Geographic told The Post that the photo actually portrays a coal-mining operation and not natural-gas drilling.

The picture appeared in the March 2011 issue of National Geographic illustrating an account of “mountaintop removal’’ for coal production.

The Flowback is published by Bonnie Jones Reynolds, a self-described former actress, author and adventurer who lives in Oneida County near Utica.

Reynolds repeatedly insisted when contacted by The Post that Fair’s photograph depicts a natural-gas drilling site. “They’re clearing off a mountain top to make their drill pads’’ for gas drilling, she contended.

Natural gas drilling, however, involves sending drilling bits deep into the earth and not ripping open mountaintops.

Fair told The Post that he had licensed the use of his photo to The Flowback on condition that the picture be identified as related to coal mining.

“I don’t know why they’d use that image like that, since my images always go out identified as to what they are, and that is obviously not a hydrofracking image,’’ said Fair.

Reynolds, author of a novel, “Magdalen,’’ that seeks to debunk some Christian teachings, claims on her Web site to be able to communicate directly with animals.

She says that, with the help of a friend, “I learned of, and began to practice, Interspecies, or Animal Communication, which is based . . . on the realization that telepathy is the language of the universe.’’

Reynolds said The Flowback is backed by the Sustainable Markets Foundation, which is headed by Jay Halfon, a former executive director of the state Trial Lawyers Association and the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Sustainable Markets, Reynolds said, accepts tax-deductible contributions on behalf of The Flowback, keeps 5 percent for itself and passes the rest on to her.

So far, she said, she has recouped about $7,000 of the estimated $40,000-plus cost of the publication.

Sustainable Markets received more than $4.3 million in contributions for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2011, according to disclosure information filed with the New York Attorney General’s Office.

Halfon did not return calls seeking comment.

The Flowback’s misuse of Fair’s photograph is being cited by public officials and pro-drilling advocates as just one example of what they say are the widespread misrepresentations by anti-frackers who are seeking to frighten local residents and put pressure on Gov. Cuomo not to permit gas drilling to go forward.

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We have the answer to the tax issues and jobs in the southern tier, it is under our feet, and the governor is not helping landowners and municipalities harvest it either. JLCpulse
Written by Joseph Spector  Albany Bureau Chief in Pressconnects.com

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered little sympathy Monday for the plight of local governments, saying they need to do what the state government did: solve their own fiscal problems.

He defended the property-tax cap and said it has successfully limited property taxes in a state with among the highest taxes in the nation. The cap limits growth in property taxes to 2 percent a year, or it can be overrode by local boards or by voters on school budgets.

"You can only spend that which you take in. That’s life," Cuomo told reporters. "That’s everybody’s kitchen table. You have a pay check; you can’t spend more than the paycheck. Well, I want to. But you really can’t, and for many years, they went right back to the taxpayer."

Local governments, particularly counties and cities, have been pressing the Democratic governor to enact more relief from state-mandated programs.

In a report last week, counties said they face a "formula for failure." Under the property-tax cap, they would only be able to collect $114 million in new revenue next year -- leaving a gap of $130 million. The 57 counties outside New York City are preparing their budgets for the fiscal year that starts Jan. 1.

Cuomo said the state this year enacted substantial mandate relief: a cap on the growth in local Medicaid costs for counties and a new, less generous pension tier -- the two biggest cost drivers for local governments.

Last year, Cuomo said he closed a $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes and spending.

Cuomo suggested there wasn’t much more coming to help local governments in his budget next year, which is due out in mid-January. He said they should consider consolidations, pointing out that New York has more than 10,500 taxing entities.

"It’s not called a mandate-relief cap. That’s not what it is," Cuomo said. "It’s a tax cap, and it worked very well because taxes aren’t going up unless the people want them to go up."

U.S. Chamber’s Energy Institute Co-Sponsors First Comprehensive Look at Shale Impacts 10/23/2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A comprehensive new study co-sponsored by the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy demonstrates that shale energy will create millions of jobs and trillions in investments over the coming decades.
The Energy Institute partnered with other associations to sponsor a report produced by IHS CERA, a leading independent global energy research firm.  The study, America’s New Energy Future:  The Unconventional Oil and Gas Revolution and the U.S. Economy, is the first-ever to examine the impact of shale energy development across the country and provide concrete numbers to help Americans understand how beneficial the impacts of shale could be.
“We’ve known for some time that shale energy is truly a game-changer for America—and now we can prove it,” said Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Energy Institute.  “This new, comprehensive study demonstrates that shale energy is already contributing over $200 billion to our economy, with much more to come, if policymakers at all levels of government don’t stand in the way.”
The study shows that shale energy development has created 1.75 million jobs over the past few years alone.  By 2015, shale and unconventional energy will be responsible for 2.5 million jobs; by 2020, 3 million, and by 2035, 3.5 million.
“The growth of unconventional oil and gas production is creating a new energy reality for the United States,” said Daniel Yergin, IHS vice chairman and author of The Quest. “That growth has not only contributed to U.S. energy security but is a significant source of new jobs and economic activity at a time when the economy is a top priority.”
In 2012, shale energy is responsible for $62 billion in tax revenue.  Between now and 2035, shale energy development is expected to contribute more than $2.5 trillion in total tax revenue—more than half of which will go to states and localities.  Overall, between now and 2035, the energy industry will invest more than $5.1 trillion in energy development.
“New York has an opportunity to transform our economy by saying yes to shale energy,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State.  “There is no doubt that shale energy production will create jobs and provide much-needed revenue to our communities.”
In addition to the benefit to our economy, there is a tangible benefit to America’s energy security from shale.  Shale oil production has helped increase domestic production of oil by more than 25 percent over the last four years.  By 2015, oil production is expected to increase by 46 percent over 2008, and by 2020, there will be a 68 percent increase—predominantly because of shale.
The effect of this increase will be to reduce oil imports.  By 2020, the study shows that net oil imports will decrease by 60 percent, reducing America’s spending on imported oil by $200 billion.
The IHS CERA study released today is the first in a three-part series designed to shed light on the impact of shale.   Part one of the study focuses exclusively on the impact of operations surrounding the extraction of oil and gas (referred to as “upstream” operations.)   A second study will be released that will quantify the impacts of shale by state.  The final installment will examine the entire economic impact of shale, including components like manufacturing and chemicals (known as “downstream” operations).
The U.S. Chamber’s Energy Institute partnered with the American Petroleum Institute, American Chemistry Council and Natural Gas Supply Association to sponsor the study.

The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

3:57 PM, Oct 19, 2012 written by  Thomas Kelley  in Pressconnects.com

In 2007, I tried to read Thomas Friedman’s book “The World Is Flat.” I kept struggling with the question: If the world is flat, why isn’t the playing field level?

Marcellus Shale gas is a good example. Many states have taken advantage of gas locked in the shale deep below the surface. They are using the tax revenues from the development of these resources to make their states more competitive in today’s global economy.

This is not the case in New York. The fearful naysayers want their children to get a good education but they don’t trust technological advances. The self-serving NIMBYs took great pleasure in watching the demise of the family farms. They stood in awe as Mother Nature transformed pastures into fields, then into brush lots, then into scrub trees, then into woodland forests. Today, we hold in great esteem the self-appointed environment zealots who have undertaken the guardianship of the resulting unblemished landscapes. No sacrifice is too great for these well-meaning individuals, save two: the investment in the purchase price of the land and the annual expense of the property taxes.

I must accept the reality of the situation. There are more zealots than there are landowners. They don’t have to work long hours to generate the extra income necessary to pay the property taxes. They have more time to write letters and to visit our elected legislators in Albany. They make lots of noise. They are the proverbial squeaky wheel. They evidently do not trust anyone! They attend every meeting, always vigilant, ready to devour anyone who does not agree with their way of thinking.

We, on the other hand, trust the process. We believe in the laws of the land. We believed our elected representatives when they took their oaths of office. We believe that the appointed officials and the state employees in their respective departments would work diligently to come up with good sound regulations which would insure that the gas below New York would be extracted by competent people using state of the art technology and methods, protecting the rights of each and every citizen of the state in the process and that they would do it in a timely manner.

I still believe in all of the above, but I also believe I may have to admit defeat. Before I do, I wish to exercise one more of my rights. I was brought up to believe that the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights must be exercised responsibly. When we speak against something, we must bring some idea or suggestion to the table that is positive and is an alternative to that to which we are opposed. Will some naysayer, NIMBY or environmental zealot tell me how the state will make up the lost potential jobs, the lost tax revenues, the  lost opportunity to put some teeth into the advertising campaign that tries to create the image that New York is a good place to do business?

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