JLCNY In the News

Be sure to watch the full movie! Friday June 18th 2010, 8pm WBNG Binghamton channel 12.

The development of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier of New York and Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. A film by Aaron Price.

Running time: 117 minutes

Price: $15.00

Click here to buy now.



pdf_iconThe American Lung Association State of the Air 2010 is the result of the hard work of many people.

The State of the Air 2010 shows that the air quality inmany places has improved, but that over 175 millionpeople—roughly 58 percent—still suffer pollution levels that are too dangerous to breathe. Unhealthy air remains a threat to the lives and health of millions of people in the United States, despite great progress. Even as the nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy, air pollution lingers as a widespread and dangerous reality.


This PDF is 2.0MB. Please be patient for it to download. It is 175 pages.



Landowners need not fear gas leases

 Jeffersonville Landowners  Edward Allees and Inge Grafe-Kieklak. The folks with the sign on  route 17.

Flames UP!

To the editor:
A letter appearing recently in your paper warned small landowners to beware of gas drilling. To the claim that it would mean little  monetary gain and large problems, we would reply that in many cases  gas royalty  payments, even if not wealth-inducing, would help with  ever-increasing property taxes. (Now, for we who live in the Sullivan  West School District, wouldn’t that be a good thing?) The claims of loss of real estate value is speculation, for if done correctly and with strict regulation, (believe it, it will be strict  in New York) there will be no loss. Indeed, well sites are reseeded  and pipes are underground. Resulting lease and royalty payments will  mean money for improvements which will increase values.Regarding the claim of road damage, why is the gas drilling industry singled out? We have numerous heavy trucks carrying loads of sand and gravel traveling our roads every day. Sadly, it is true that our  roads do not measure up to those of Germany, as an example. That is  an indication of the poor state of our economy. But never mind, we do   not want anything such as gas drilling to come here, which might  provide some stimulus to the economy.“Be aware of those pushing you to sign a lease – they may be  receiving royalties from the gas companies for each lease signed.”  This is a pure flight of fancy.“Demand New York State impose tax on gas companies.” The governor has already asked for this. A severance tax is probably inevitable.On the necessity to hire more regulators – this is a good idea for it just might help a little with the high unemployment in the area.Regarding emissions from drilling – any emissions from drill-rigs,  widely spaced as they are due to the nature of horizonal drilling,  are hardly to be compared to those one experiences at any of the toll  plazas of the Thruway and other major highways. This is a non-argument.“Dead fish and vegetation from chemicals pumped in ground or  emissions” – chemicals, (and they are less than 1 percent of the  fluids) are inserted thousands of feet beneath the plant-supporting  soil at the surface. Yes, there have been spills due to carelessness,  but the process itself is safe. Yet they are cited as though it is  widespread and unpreventable.To the claim that rigs would be placed near schools, playgrounds and close to homes, the answer is, not if the lease signed prohibits any  of this.“Hundreds of wells in a two-mile radius.” This does not occur with horizonal drilling.“There will be water contamination.” The fracturing takes place  thousands of feet below the water table. The shafts are sealed; the  process itself is safe.“Gas drilling will reduce the number of producing farms in our communities.” The answer to this is that the loss of operating farms  is a process that has been going on for many years as the small  farmer gives up in the struggle to make a living, especially in dairy  farming. If the small farmer, (and the not so small) were to receive  lease and royalty money, he might be able to survive the inadequate  return for his milk and the high cost of equipment.And besides those landowners lucky enough to receive money from  natural gas drilling, who else might benefit? Let’s examine what is  happening in Pennsylvania. Universal Well now employs 508 people in  the state and it continues to hire. This company needs many, many  trades. Four hundred fifty employees representing 150 different  occupations are needed to drill one well. Obviously all this would  favorably impact on our economy in spite of those who “do not wish to  see the industrialization of New York upstate.”Natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania has generated so much economic activity and demand for skills that, increasingly, colleges are  offering classes teaching those skills that are needed. Those schools  include The Pennsylvania College of Technology, Lackawanna College  and Keystone College. In the Southern Tier of New York, community  colleges, as well, will be offering courses.Are those who are against the idea of extracting natural gas in our  area content to rely on oil for heating and autos and coal for our  electrical generation, in spite of air polluting characteristics of  those fuels? To say nothing of those unfortunate coal miners who  recently lost their lives. Do we continue to say “not in my back yard? ”This country moves at a snail’s pace in converting power plants, automobiles and heating from coal to oil to natural gas, as Europe  has been doing for some time now. Instead we pour our wealth into  endless conflict protecting sources of oil. The result is a  disgraceful infrastructure with deteriorating roads, bridges and lack  of money to power necessary social changes. There simply is too much  entreched interest that impede or stop any change in the status quo.So, yes, continue fighting the attempt to realize the potential for domestic production of cleaner-burning natural gas. Other countries  stand ready to ship us natural gas, either in liquid or gaseous form.  If liquid, in ships powered by, (you guessed it) oil.

Edward Allees
Inge Grafe-Kieklak

SPARROWBUSH, NY — To be certain, Eric Hupka doesn’t want the piece of paradise where he is raising his two young daughters to be marred by natural gas extraction. But he doesn’t think that will be the outcome if, indeed, he and the other 29 members of the Cahoonzie Club, who live and/or recreate on the private preserve’s nearly 1,200 acres, decide to lease their land for drilling.

The matter is still undecided, and just like they did when a 1.5 mile length of the Millennium Pipeline was expanded through their property, the club has now formed a committee to gather information on gas extraction.

Hupka, co-owner of an auto body repair business in Matamoras, PA, is the head of that committee, and the secretary of the Cahoonzie Hunting Club. “We want to stay on top of the situation and gather all the relevant facts we can so that we can make an educated decision, should it ever come to pass,” he said.

Living with the pipeline has given club members a different perspective. Back in the ’30s, the club’s original pipeline contract awarded them $1 per year. When it came time for the expansion, the club was prepared and negotiated for benefits such as the widening of roads and establishment of wildlife food plots.

“Millennium improved the road from little more than a trail to a driveable roadway,” said Hupka. “They brought in stone, cleared some fields, graded them, then planted food plots for the animals. We had them leave brush piles that animals can nest in and wood piles that club members can harvest for firewood.

“When Millennium first came to us, it was doom and gloom from some of our members about how the club would never be the same. A lot of us realized that it’s going to happen whether we want it to or not, so either we can roll over, let them come in and do whatever they want, or we can negotiate and see how far we can get. And that’s what we did. I can’t speak for other clubs, but it’s been a very positive experience for ours.”

There are certain similarities between the pipeline expansion and natural gas extraction, as Hupka sees it. “There were a lot of workers from out of the area and there will be with drilling,” he said. “The drilling will make Millennium look like child’s play. It will take much longer and the out-of-state workers are going to be living among us. They’ll hire local guys for construction-type jobs. And they’ll need lots of materials such as stone, and they’re going to shop locally to get that.”

Hupka added that while the project wasn’t free of problems, the company ultimately held up their end of the contract. “There were things we weren’t happy with, and sometimes it went back and forth to fix some things; sometimes it took a couple of months, but they made right on anything that we felt wasn’t up to par.”

Hupka is optimistic that the same possibilities exist with development of the Marcellus Shale, although he is paying attention to reports of water well contamination near drilling sites in Pennsylvania.

“I think it can be a positive thing for the area,” he said. “There need to be checks and balances, though. You can’t let the companies come in and run amok. I think you’re going to see the state hire and train additional inspectors. I don’t think they should overregulate it to the point where the gas companies can’t make a profit on it, but they do need to be responsible. If there’s an error in the construction of a well, for example, they’re going to have to make it right. There will need to be oversight on it, but there definitely has to be a balance struck.”

The Cahoonzie Club was first established in 1917 and careful management of its natural resources is ongoing. A red zone was established around the main lake to protect it. The forests are managed with Timber Stand Improvement practices like culling soft woods, leaving hardwoods and creating brush piles and forage areas for wildlife.

“We are true stewards of our property,” said Hupka, whose grandparents and parents both built homes within the preserve. “The gas companies have to recognize that and respect it and also become stewards of the land. They need to make sure they’re protecting it as well as getting the energy out of it for America. But I keep my eyes open all the time and if I feel there’s a problem, my opinion could change.”

Although the club is far from signing a lease, Hupka stressed the importance of maintaining their right to do so. “We may never want to do it. It may never come to pass. As landowners, we want the right, if there’s gas here, to decide for ourselves if we want to pursue it or not. For us, the property is paramount. We live here. We fish, we hunt, we hike and we boat here. It’s a wonderful piece of property to have and to be able to enjoy. We use the land and we don’t want it harmed.

“I don’t know if anybody has the answer on either side, but it goes back to striking that balance between not harming the environment and our communities, but still being able to press forward. There are going to be mistakes. It happens in every industry. If you didn’t do anything simply because you know there are going to be accidents, then there would never be progress.”

Written By Eric Hupka

CANDIDATES are beginning to line up for the state Senate seat now held by John Bonacic.

Sullivan County Legislator David Sager and Glenn Dannaham, a teaching assistant from Kerhonkson, have announced they will seek the seat, and Ulster County Legislator Susan Zimet also may join the race.

In a statement slamming Sager, a Bonacic aide hinted at a re-election bid by the Mount Hope Republican but declined to say whether the six-term senator will, indeed, run for this fall in New York’s 42nd Senate District. Bonacic did not return calls on Wednesday.

A registered Republican, Sager filed on Wednesday to switch his party enrollment and will seek the Democratic line in the November election. But his enrollment change won’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2011, so he needs the approval of the Democratic chairpeople in the 42nd District’s four counties in order to run on the party’s line.

In a press release announcing his candidacy, Sager said he differs from Bonacic on many issues —particularly proposals to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale regions of New York City’s watershed in the Catskills.

Characterizing Bonacic as a “fierce proponent of unfettered gas drilling,” Sager said he would demand that any such drilling be “safe, legal, economically beneficial to all and subject to local control.”

He also emphasized his roots in Sullivan County, all of which is in the 42nd District. Bonacic is from Orange County, part of which is in the 42nd.

Bonacic spokeswoman Joeann Drake called Sager’s candidacy a desperate attempt to find a Democrat to run against the incumbent. She said Sager is “grossly misinformed” about the drilling issue and is playing “into the hands” of New York City “elites.”

“Sen. Bonacic will continue to stand up to the New York City Democrats who will be funding Mr. Sager’s campaign,” Drake said. “These are the same people who have voted to deny New Yorkers property tax relief, imposed the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) tax … and are now forcing local contractors to lay off employees because they won’t fund road and bridge projects.”

Dannaham, a teaching assistant in the Rondout Valley Central School District, calls himself “an independent libertarian who believes in limited government, true personal and economic freedom, and fiscal responsibility.”

In announcing his candidacy, Dannaham said he is running for office to stop government from interfering the private lives and to bring an end to state spending on special interests.

He said he is not enrolled in a political party and will run on an independent line on the November ballot.

Zimet, a Democrat from New Paltz, has not announced her candidacy, but Ulster County Democratic Chairman Julian Schriebman said he has spoken with her about a potential run for office. “I believe she is definitely giving the race a hard look,” he said.

Zimet could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

An Ulster County legislator and former New Paltz town supervisor, Zimet lost to Bonacic in 2006 by a margin of about 57-43.

Bonacic was unchallenged in 2008.

The 42nd Senate District comprises all of Sullivan County and parts of Ulster, Delaware and Orange counties.


Freeman staff

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