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New York Post Editorial  Last Updated:11:43 PM, October 21, 2012   Posted:11:08 PM, October 21, 2012

The Cuomo folks were at it again last week — pretending that the governor could possibly maybe one day allow fracking in this state.

On Friday, Department of Environmental Conservation boss Joe Martens admitted that experts set to review the “health impacts” of fracking (drilling for gas or oil in underground shale)haveyet to be chosen.

But not to worry; they’ll be picked “soon.”

Martens, of course, couldn’t (wouldn’t?) say exactly when they’d be on the job, let alone when they’d finish. (If ever.)

Oh, and if the review’s not done by Nov. 29? Well, in that case, under state law, there’d have to be evenmorehearings . . .

Same old, same old.

Cuomo may not realize it, or maybe he doesn’t care, but his credibility is being tested here, big-time.

And the message he’s sending — that the economy and job-creation are not priorities for him — probably isn’t lost on investors, businesses, job-seekers . . .

Which is not to say that he’s oblivious.

He lashed out at two respectable fiscal watchdogs last week — the Tax Foundation and the Cato Institute — after they gave New York low grades for its business climate.

Cuomo dismissed the pair as excessively conservative.

“They tend to be right-wing groups who bring their philosophy to the table,” he said.

But on Thursday, New York’snotoriouslyright-wing Labor Department reported that Empire State joblessness stood at 8.9 percent last month, more than a half-point higher than in September 2011 and more than a full point higher than the national rate.

Will Cuomo try to kill that messenger?

The fact is that potential investors aren’t exactly in love with the sky-high taxes and miles of regulatory red tape that pass for normal in New York.

And that when Cuomo jacks up taxes — as he did last December, after vowing (Read my lips!) not to — it makes the state even less economically attractive.

Upstate, where fracking would pay real dividends, continues to hemorrhage jobs: Friday, HMX — which owns Hickey Freeman, a 500-job manufacturer of men’s suits based in Rochester — filed for bankruptcy.

Last month, Sikorsky Aircraft said it will close its Chemung County facility, costing 570 jobs. GM’s shutting its Rochester-area fuel-cell plant, a loss of 220 jobs.

Fact is, Cuomo’s endless stalls on fracking are of a piece with his tax hikes and the state’s economically corrosive levies.

Taken together, they crystallize Cuomo’s less-than-encouraging views toward businesses and the state’s economy.

Alas, companies notice.

And act accordingly

Bad news for New York.

Hi Folks, this ad should send a message to all landowners interested in maintaining their rights. The facts are, that the game is not organized to serve landowner interests. Our state elected leadership is not interested in right or wrong, good or bad, just in polls, donations and re-election.The carrot will go to whoever pays most and lobbies best. We as landowners have passively waited for the state to do the right thing and follow established law. It does not matter to NY politicians that we are the only gas rich state not participating in achieving cheaper gas, reduced carbon foot print, and JOBs for our state. We are being out lobbied, out funded by the anti gas groups and miss represented by our elected officials. If we continue to sit passively by, we will get exactly what we deserve, nothing. Join a coalition, fund a lobbyist, go to a rally, no, go to ten rallies, make calls until you cannot talk any longer. Get involved it will make a difference.JLCpulse

Pay is $800.00 per week!!  (So much for volunteer organizing)

Food & Water Watch is a leading national consumer advocacy organization that runs dynamic, cutting edge campaigns challenging the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources. Working together with Frack Action and over 170 groups across the state we formed New Yorkers Against Fracking, a broad-based coalition fighting for a ban on fracking throughout New York.

We are building out our organizing capacity in New York to prevent fracking in New York State and are seeking temporary contract organizers to build capacity in the following five areas of the state: Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Albany, Syracuse, and Rochester. Each Organizer will work to develop and implement legislative, field organizing, and media strategies in support of this campaign. The Organizer represents FWW and New Yorkers Against Fracking and works as a leader in local coalitions to broaden support for our policy goals. This position runs from October through the end of the year.

Specific Responsibilities

  • Serving as New Yorkers Against Fracking’s representative in the local area as needed.
  • Developing localized campaign plan
  • Outreach to local organizations and elected officials and other grass-tops leaders
  • Developing and working with activists and volunteers to build support for a ban on fracking and incorporating them into Food & Water Watch’s leadership development structure
  • Developing and implementing organizing strategies for gathering petitions and data basing those petitions so we can contact new activists through our e-alert system
  • Participating in media events and other speaking engagements
  • Leading strategy sessions
  • Coordinating with Food & Water Watch and New Yorkers Against Fracking staff in New York
  • Electronic communication with activists on fracking
  • Promotion of New Yorkers Against Fracking membership at events.
  • Other duties as assigned

Requirements

  • Experience: At least one year experience in advocacy on public policy issues, and/or grassroots/field organizing.
  • Knowledge: Organizing, advocacy and legislative strategy techniques; familiarity New York political environment; consumer and environmental issues; working with the media. Experience and familiarity with the local area is a major plus but not required.
  • Skills: Excellent written and oral communication skills; strong interpersonal and planning; excellent organizational skills. Knowledge of online activism and email listservs strongly preferred.
  • Capabilities: Ability to think creatively and quickly to respond to legislative developments and to take advantage of breaking news; demonstrated leadership capability; ability to work well with a wide variety of people and to coordinate diverse tasks; ability to present technical concepts to a mass audience; can-do attitude and commitment to public interest work. Work well under pressure, handle multiple tasks at once, and adapt to changing situations on a daily basis. High level of independent judgment.
  • Conditions: Strong interest in and commitment to promoting the goals of Food & Water Watch and New Yorkers Against Fracking. Applicant must be legally eligible to work in the United States.

Martens on hydrofraking: 10/19/12, 11:41 AM  Written by Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau

SARATOGA SPRINGS — SARATOGA SPRINGS — Outside health experts are not yet under contract to help assess the state’s review of shale-gas drilling, but an agreement is expected “soon,” according to New York’s top environmental regulator.

Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, told reporters Friday that the specifics of the health review are still being figured out as contract talks continue. He announced last month that state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah would assemble a panel of experts to review the DEC’s final report on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used with gas drilling.

Martens said it is “to be determined” if that review will be completed before Nov. 29, a key deadline that — if missed — would require the DEC to reopen its proposed hydrofracking regulations to public comment.

“We still don’t have contracts with (the outside experts) yet so it’s not 100 percent certain at this point what the exact scope is going to be, but they’re going to review the health portions of the (DEC report) and how we’ve addressed health impacts in the mitigation measures,” Martens said Friday after speaking at a conference hosted by the state Business Council.

A spokesman for the Department of Health did not immediately return a request for comment.

The DEC’s report, a dense set of permitting guidelines known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, has to be finalized before permits for large-scale hydrofracking can be issued in New York. It was first launched in July 2008.

Shah’s review, meanwhile, will include input from the outside experts — whom have not been named — and focus specifically on the DEC’s efforts to prevent any potential negative health impacts from hydrofracking, Martens said.

The DEC maintains that a final decision on whether to allow high-volume hydrofracking will wait until Shah’s analysis is completed. Martens declined to say whether he believes the DEC will hit the Nov. 29 deadline to finalize its regulations, but did say that it’s “possible.”

“That all depends on whether we finalize things sooner rather than later,” Martens said. “If we finalize them later, then we may have to go back for public comment. It really depends.”

Both sides of the increasingly contentious debate on hydrofracking have increased pressure on Martens and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in recent weeks.

A coalition of landowner and gas-industry groups came together in Albany for a rally this week, where several hundred participants targeted Cuomo while chanting “No more delay!” and “Before November 29!” outside of the Capitol.

Environmental groups have been split on the merits of the health review, with some pushing for a more independent and thorough analysis of fracking’s effects and others expressing cautious optimism.

Roger Downs, conservation director of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, was critical of Martens’ comments Friday.

“Martens has confirmed that the study isn’t a really a study at all — it’s a just further certification of what DEC has done to date, but from a different set of political appointees,” Downs said. “If Cuomo wants to engender public confidence that New Yorkers will be protected if fracking moves forward, real structure, independence and transparency need to be injected into this health-review process.”

A spokesman for a group funded by the natural-gas industry said New York’s delay is having a financial impact on property owners in the Southern Tier, which falls within the gas-rich, multi-state Marcellus Shale formation.

“While New York takes its time reviewing science that is already settled, landowners continue to struggle and frustration continues to mount on both sides of the debate,” said John Krohn, a spokesman for Energy In Depth.

Martens said his agency has taken steps to boost its proposed measures for limiting the public’s exposure to health risks from hydrofracking. A pair of draft reports released by the DEC drew about 80,000 formal public comments — many of which were critical of the agency’s health-related analysis.

The final draft of its report won’t be released to the public until Shah’s review is complete, Martens said. The Health Department’s review, he said, will help solidify the DEC’s ultimate decision fracking.

“I believe this action addresses any legitimate request for additional due diligence and study as well as ensuring DEC’s ultimate decision on hydraulic fracturing is beyond reproach either as a matter of law or as policy,”
By the Editors Oct 21, 2012 6:31 PM ET in Bloomberg.com

New York officials have again put off a decision on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in the shale-gas-rich state, saying more research is needed to determine the public health effects.

It’s wise to ensure that fracking -- which enables the extraction of gas and oil trapped underground -- doesn’t pose unnecessary social, economic or health risks. Unfortunately, much of the research to date has been tainted by conflicts of interest -- real and imagined -- that have colored findings to provide ammunition for supporters or opponents.

Can one more study provide unquestionable evidence that fracking is safe? It’s doubtful. Already environmental groups are agitating over New York Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens’s rejection of an independent health study in favor of one done by the state’s health commissioner.

Rather than wait for absolution, policy makers should allow drilling to proceed under strict regulation and supervision. The risks posed by fracking -- already well-enough known -- can be addressed by crafting tough rules governing well construction, wastewater treatment and chemical disclosure.

Anyone looking for concrete evidence of fracking’s impact will probably come away confused by the conflicting research. One can find studies linking fracking with water contamination and others concluding there is zero evidence. An oft-cited Cornell University study depicts natural gas as dirtier than coal, while other peer-reviewed studies find the opposite. Economic studies are similarly polarized, detailing both huge employment and revenue gains from drilling and large economic costs from pollution, infrastructure strain and plunging real- estate values.

One constant is that much of the research is funded by those with skin in the game -- oil and gas interests on one hand and environmental groups on the other. While that doesn’t necessarily delegitimize the findings, it does undermine people’s trust in them. Some of the science has been found lacking.

Sponsored Research

In 2011, Cornell University Professors Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea upended the environmental world with a paper, published in Climatic Change Letters, declaring that natural gas, far from being a “clean” fuel, contributes to global warming even more than coal. The researchers based their conclusions largely on estimates of how much methane escapes from natural gas operations over 20 years, compared with carbon emissions from coal. The study was funded in part with a $35,000 grant from the Park Foundation, an environmental advocacy group that has spent more than $1.5 million on efforts researching and opposing natural gas drilling.

A year later, another Cornell professor, Lawrence Cathles, published a study debunking his colleagues’ work. Cathles called Howarth and Ingraffea’s estimate of methane leakage “impossible” and said the 20-year time frame skewed the results. While methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, it leaves the atmosphere more quickly than CO2, which can persist for centuries.

Proponents of fracking have funded studies that arrive at favorable conclusions yet don’t reveal industry sponsorship. As Bloomberg News reported, a February study by a University of Texas professor found no evidence of groundwater contamination from fracking but failed to disclose that the author sat on the board of a gas-producing company with fracking operations in Texas, for which he received more than $400,000 in compensation. Academics at Pennsylvania State University and the State University of New York at Buffalo have also produced fracking- friendly reports and failed to disclose industry ties.

Disputed Findings

New York has already produced two environmental impact studies on fracking of its own, and elicited more than 80,000 comments on them. Now, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration is bowing to environmental groups who say another study is needed to assess potential public-health impacts. Joseph Martens handed the job to New York’s health commissioner, saying it would be almost impossible to find outside experts with no conflict of interest.

If history is any guide, rather than provide greater clarity, New York’s study will be picked apart by those who disagree with the findings. That’s what happened in Garfield County, Colorado, where a health impact assessment by the Colorado School of Public Health was abandoned after the oil and gas industry attacked its findings. Similarly last year, when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency linked fracking with water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, the oil and gas industry and Wyoming officials questioned the federal agency’s methods and interpretations, prompting a retest by EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey. (Last month, the USGS released findings largely mirroring EPA’s original ones.)

Perhaps New York’s aim is to research fracking to death, ensuring it never comes into practice. We hope that’s not the case. A moratorium on drilling in place since 2010 has already cost the state jobs and tax revenue.

It doesn’t take a scientist to recognize that pumping chemicals underground to extract methane can pose risks. But there is little hard evidence to date that fracking, when done appropriately and safely, has a deleterious effect. Policy makers should look to science not to let them delay fracking but to help them craft strict regulations to prevent problems.

New York should make use of the existing public-health research to expedite its review and meet its previously scheduled -- and now unlikely -- Nov. 29 deadline for a fracking decision and move swiftly to implement tough regulations. Granted, low natural-gas prices and a shift to oil production have somewhat damped the shale-gas drilling boom, giving New York some breathing room. Yet it will take time to craft rules and solicit public input, and the state should not unnecessarily delay its decision.

Even more important than a single state’s effort is the need for uniformity, and that means the federal government should step in and craft regulations for well casing and construction, which would ensure energy companies adhere to the same standards across the U.S. and prevent leaks that can contaminate groundwater.

Regulators should also require that companies disclose every ingredient in their fracking fluids, capture air emissions from fracking operations and handle wastewater responsibly to prevent toxic chemicals from spilling, leaching or evaporating.

I would suggest that there is something in the water in New York that affects it politicians, probably there is very bad water at the capital  and  the governor's mansion. Perhaps they import bottled water from Ithaca hyped by the park foundation. There has to be some reason that our state is behind in so many important  ways and way ahead in the worst possible way. Connecticut on the other hand has a forward looking governor who has a grasp on the real issue, bad air, global warming and the world balance of power related to energy. JLCpulse
10/05/2012    The Hartford Courant, Connecticut

By Mara Lee, The Hartford Courant

Oct. 05--HARTFORD -- Converting up to 300,000 households to natural gas by 2020 is the most ambitious piece of a sweeping energy plan that the governor unveiled Friday.

Aiming to provide residents with "cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity," the Connecticut Comprehensive Energy Strategy outlines various methods to encourage individuals and businesses to move to cleaner sources of energy for heating, to buy more efficient appliances and to use additional insulation.

An executive summary of the energy strategy calls for millions of dollars for electric and natural gas fueling stations for cars and trucks and for alternative energy research to be based at the University of Connecticut. It also suggests that the existing requirement that utilities buy 20 percent renewable power by 2020 could be raised, and that an energy efficiency standard for new construction should be established.

The report notes that just 31 percent of Connecticut homes have natural gas heat -- which is significantly less expensive than oil heat -- compared with 47 percent in Massachusetts and 48 percent in Rhode Island. New Jersey has 70 percent of homes using natural gas.

For about 40,000 Connecticut homes, the switch from heating oil or propane would be easy because they already have gas lines in their houses for stoves or water heaters. There are another 187,000 houses within 150 feet of a gas line.

The typical oil-heat customer in Connecticut spends $2,650 a year on fuel, and the typical natural gas customer spends just $1,100 -- which includes the whole year's costs for gas cooking, water heaters and dryers.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy rolled out his draft plan in a speech to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association in Cromwell on Friday morning. He called it a "comprehensive energy strategy can help us create jobs, it can make our state's businesses more competitive, and it can ensure that we preserve and protect our environment for generations to come."

A copy of the report, including a schedule of public hearings, is available here: ct.gov/energystrategy.

Ron Araujo, manager of conservation for Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas, has some experience with showing customers how spending some money now on insulation; a more efficient water heater, furnace or refrigerator; or other investments can save them money.

"Customers are very unwilling to take on debt," Araujo said. "We have greater uptake on the zero percent for insulation. They look at it more as a repayment plan."

The investment to buy and install a new furnace is substantial -- about $7,500.

The state proposes that it link banks or other lenders with customers for loans, which would be paid back through utility bill payments over 10 years. If the interest rate was 5 percent -- the highest interest rate now for loans for high-efficiency appliances subsidized through the utilities' conservation programs -- such a loan would cost $80 a month. Even after subtracting the cost of paying back the loan, a family would still save $600 a year by switching.

The state currently helps low-income families convert through its Connecticut Housing Investment Fund, but the scale of this proposed program is far larger. It would be available to families at all income levels, and would cost $6 billion over seven years, if demand materializes.

The utilities paid the full freight for 11,578 low-income households so far this year, with an average $1,500 in improvements.

So far this year, another 16,003 households that make too much money to qualify for free insulation or appliances have had energy audits, which include caulking and replacement light bulbs. Just 12 percent, or fewer than 2,000, ever go further, adding insulation or replacing appliances or windows. And that's when the utilities are offering an interest-free loan for insulation projects of less than $2,500.

There have been 87 customers who accepted the interest-free loans for insulation, 57 customers who did more than one project and borrowed at 2.99 percent, and 32 customers who did a single project and borrowed at 4.99 percent.

Both of these programs are paid for with $123 million in the state's energy efficiency fund. That fund also subsidizes businesses' energy conservation investments, and pays for education promoting conversation and the financing of large-scale renewable energy installations to provide electricity to the utilities.

About $90 million of that fund comes from a surcharge on United Illuminating and CL&P bills. The draft plan would increase that surcharge by 0.37 cents a kilowatt hour, which would roughly double the money available.

Araujo said the residential and business audit and retrofitting programs -- together close to $50 million a year -- almost always have enough money to meet the demand.

"Demand isn't as high as we would like it to see," he said, although he expects to be able to spend it all by the end of the year. Last year, CL&P had $8 million left over, which rolled over to this year.

Araujo said that more people need to take out loans for thousands of dollars in improvements for the fund to be fully subscribed. He thinks that within three years, the spending could be doubled.

"There's a commitment from the current administration making energy efficiency a key means of meeting its environmental and energy goals," he said. Past administrations either diverted the surcharge or threatened to do so, he said, which dampened interest in the programs and led to energy auditor layoffs.

But if the current programs don't have demand past $50 million, how is the state going to inspire almost $1 billion a year worth of spending on natural gas conversions?

A member of the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy who asked to remain anonymous said there could be incentives to sign up, possibly a tax credit on the state income tax, or some kind of Groupon model that could persuade most households on a street to sign up, even where there is not a gas line now.

The cost to tap into a line at the street is small, Araujo said, but bringing a gas line to a street that doesn't now have one is more expensive. There are about 80,000 homes in Connecticut near a gas main, but the street itself doesn't have a gas line.

"We're like uniquely missing the boat," the source said, especially because Connecticut doesn't have the excuse that New Hampshire and Maine do, that many people live in rural areas, where natural gas infrastructure isn't as cost-effective.

If the marketing campaign can persuade people to borrow to realize immediate heating savings, the administration believes it will be easy to find private lenders for the billions needed. Defaults when loans are repaid through utility bills are exceedingly rare, so a 5 percent rate of return is considered good for such a low-risk loan

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