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Yesterday, a lengthy, $1 million study evaluating air emissions associated with natural gas development from the Barnett Shale near Ft. Worth, Texas was released. The city of Ft. Worth announced this upon the study’s release: “A comprehensive evaluation of gas exploration and production sites ‘did not reveal any significant health threats.’

Ft. Worth Mayor Betsy Price notes that “It’s good to hear that ERG didn’t find an immediate health risk from these gas production sites.” Overwhelmingly, the media reported this positive environmental news accurately, save for Bloomberg News.

Here’s what they’re saying:

· No 'significant health threats' found in air quality study: A long-anticipated air quality study released Thursday by the city found five natural gas sites with high emission rates but "did not reveal any significant health threats" to residents. (Fort Worth Star Telegram, 7/14/11)

· Study: No "Significant Health Risks" From Natural Gas Emissions: An air quality study of natural gas drilling sites in Fort Worth found no significant health threats, the city said Thursday. The long-awaited study by Eastern Research Group Inc. looked at the impact of natural gas exploration and production on Fort Worth's air quality. According to the study, emissions do not reach levels that cause adverse health effects, although five sites have emission rates that exceed regulatory thresholds. Mayor Betsy Price said she was encouraged by the findings. (NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, 7/14/11)

· Fort Worth air quality report released: The long awaited study by the Eastern Research Group did not reveal any "significant health threats." … Fort Worth's new mayor, Betsy Price, said the report's conclusions brought a sense of relief. "We've all been sitting on pins and needles waiting to see," she said. "I hope it makes people feel better." She called the report the most comprehensive study of its kind, and said it should relieve fears about pollution from gas drilling. (WFAA-TV, 7/14/11)

· Study: FW gas industry causes little air health concern (Dallas Business Journal, 7/14/11)

· Drilling in Fort Worth isn’t harming health, study says (Dallas Morning News, 7/14/11)

EnergyInDepth.org

 
Dear Natural Gas Supporters Everywhere,

Please circulate this to any and all pro-gas supporters as soon as you read this.

Now that the dSGEIS is released, it's time to show our gratitude for the support and progress it represents to natural gas supporters and to continue to push for the dSGEIS's quick and efficient review. Fortunately we’ve made it simple to do all that!

All you have to do is open the file linked to here. Then print it out, and mail it to the address at the top of the letter. Then print out a bunch of copies of the letter for other supporters to sign and mail in as well. Keep in mind that everybody must send in their own letter. Please do not co-sign!

Please do this today. It is important that Governor Cuomo consider the information that is in the letter as he decides how the next steps in the dSGEIS review and finalization will be conducted.

Thank you for attending to this important matter right now and for sharing copies with other supporters.

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


DF/brc

P.S. If you’re having trouble opening the file mentioned above, simply copy and paste the text that follows below the line into your computers text editor. Then print it, sign it, send it, reprint it many times, and share it with other supporters.
________________________________________
Hon. Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York State
State Capitol Building, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12247

Dear Governor Cuomo:

In response to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) release of the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), I would like to thank you, DEC Commissioner Martens, and all of the DEC scientists and staff for the commitment, diligence, and hard work they devoted to preparing the document.

I see this release as a very positive step towards enjoying the protections, prosperity, and benefits that safe and responsible Natural Gas development will bring to New York’s communities. I look forward to reviewing the changes that have been made to the document in the weeks to come and offering rational, science based substantive comments as deemed necessary to protect our homes, lands and the environment.

It is my sincere hope that the remainder of the SGEIS review process and final approval will be expedited and allowed to proceed without any undue delays so that New York can prove that environmental protection and economic development are not just compatible, but mutually beneficial. Thank you.

Respectfully yours,

_________________________________
Name Date

Address:

_____________________________

_____________________________

Not only doth Castskill Mountainkeeper protest too much (see earlier post) but now one of its sister organizations, the Catskill Citiens for Safe Energy, has decided to send misleading mailers to their neighbors and friends in New York.   This “informational pamphlet” on hydraulic fracturing was sent to residents of Delaware, Sullivan and Ulster counties.  The pamphlet purports to provide New Yorkers information on hydraulic fracturing so they can “decide if the benefits of shale gas outweigh the risks of extracting it.”

Well, we agree that New Yorkers should have solid information on the process of harvesting clean-burning natural gas from shale deposits — especially considering the extensive benefits it will bring to the Empire State.  So, we are providing you the facts.  Check out our Fact Sheet debunking this pamphlet of propoganda.  It tells you important things, like the fact that some of the claims made in the pamphlet will be specifically outlawed under the regulatory structure proposed in the SEIS.  Pesky facts.

Earlier in the post I mentioned the benefits natural gas production can bring to NY. Don’t take our word for it, though.  A May 2011 study the Manhattan Institute found that shale gas will bring $11.4 billion in economic output to the state and could create over 100,000 jobs while netting nearly $1.4 billion in tax revenue for the state.   The Business Council of New York  also recently released a report showing the potential for 35,000 jobs coming from natural gas production operations in New York.

As you can see the stakes are high, so we want to make sure you have the real facts you need to make an educated decision.

By John

Check out EID: Marcellus on Facebook Here!

This week the town of Sidney, NY held a public meeting on the proposed Leatherstocking distribution project. However, before discussing the meeting a little background is needed. In case you haven’t been following, Sidney has been transformed in recent weeks from a quiet town in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains to a place that is consumed by un-needed controversy.  This has happened as the town debates a proposal by Leatherstocking Gas Company, LLC to install a local natural gas distribution system. In most  communities these systems are installed without controversy given the many  benefits they provide.  However, in Sidney a vocal minority of anti-gas activists are trying to demonize the project by creating  false arguments designed to confuse the public.

Currently, residents and businesses in Sidney rely on home heating oil, electricity or bottled propane .  As you can see  this can be expensive,  very expensive.  In fact,  electricity rates are almost twice as much as natural gas in NY State and the cost for propane and home heating oil are even less competitive.  Clearly,  Sidney could benefit from a more cost-effective and efficient source of energy.  The benefits of such a system would be substantial.  Residents would save money on their utility bills,  the cost of doing business in the region would drop significantly and the additional public infrastructure would entice other businesses to relocate here to take advantage of the skilled workforce and other assets unique to the region.

More after the jump - Click here for full article and videos: Leatherstocking Will Bring Cost-Savings not Marcellus Development

It has been clear for a few months now that anti-gas radicals have shifted strategy away from their failing attack on hydraulic fracturing, which the public is not buying, to new tactics.  These include; a) intimidating municipalities and encouraging them to enact Potemkin laws that delay natural gas drilling, and b) attacking pipeline, compressor and storage projects on which natural gas development is dependent.  The latter is exemplified by the recent assaults on the Marc 1 Pipeline project.  Not only are the usual suspects involved, but also the EPA Philadelphia Regional Office, which has been decidedly anti-gas under current leadership.

The Marc 1 Pipeline is a proposed 39-mile pipeline in Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming Counties, Pennsylvania, for which Central New York Oil and Gas Company (a subsidiary of Inergy) is seeking regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC).  The FERC staff has developed an extensive 300-page Environmental Assessment of the project and concluded “approval of the proposed project, with appropriate mitigating measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”  This document has been open to public comment and the uncanny parallels between the actions of anti-gas radicals and the EPA suggest there is a coordinated move by this unholy alliance to torpedo the Marc 1 project.

The strategy of the anti-gas radicals is typical of what we have seen elsewhere.  They attempt to overwhelm the system with thousands of form letters gathered from urban areas completely unaffected by the project (except, of course, that these city people are the ones who benefit most from the inexpensive natural gas the project would gather).  The Earthjustice group (still another entity funded by the Ithaca based Park Foundation) submitted nearly 22,000 nearly identical form letters requesting a full environmental impact statement (EIS) via an internet campaign.  None of the individuals on whose behalf the form letter was submitted actually wrote and signed the letter and all but 37 were from folks who lived outside the project area, including residents of 23 (yes, 23) foreign countries.  As  Central New York Oil and Gas Company (CNYOG) notes, none of the individuals on whose behalf letters were submitted know any more about the project than they read on Earthjustice’s website, which was anything but accurate.  Numerous duplicate submissions were made on behalf of single individuals, and many were on behalf of unidentifiable submitters with identifiable interest in the project.

This is the same pattern exhibited in response to the DRBC draft regulations and, unsurprisingly, the same radicals are involved.  Among the commenters on the Marc 1 project  are such well known entities as the Delaware Riverkeeper and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) both of whom supposedly exist to protect other watersheds.  DCS, indeed, made multiple comments, demonstrating its objectives have little to do with the Delaware River or Damascus Township but are intended to support Josh Fox’s mission (Barbara Arindell of DCS is listed in the Gasland credits and produced a rather ridiculous “rebuttal” to Energy In Depth’s debunking of that sordid enterprise).   Other submissions come from the Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited and the Coalition For Responsible Growth And Resource Conservation.  You can guess what they said.

Nothing these groups do is ever a surprising.  They are utterly predictable and follow the same “Hysterical Reaction and How to Produce It” playbook every time they go on the field.  What is surprising (less so recently) is when the EPA joins in the fun and parrots their lines, as if it was part of the team.  The EPA’s Philadelphia Regional Office submitted comments to FERC on the Marc 1 project, after earlier requesting a 90-day extension of the comment period (an all too typical tactic of anti-gas radicals) that FERC honored to the extent of 45 days.  The EPA comments, submitted at the very end of the process to gain maximum press coverage), are anything but professional.

Incredibly, the EPA actually cites Earthjustice’s complaints and then gives them credence by suggesting that groups 20,000+ comments was evidence of “public controversy” indicating need for an EIS.  Here is the relevant excerpt (emphasis ours):

The rationale goes on to suggest that many of the over 500 public comments raised prior to release of the EA were raised in opposition to Marcellus Shale development in general, and not to the MARC I Pipeline itself, and that opposition to the proposed pipeline does not render the action controversial for NEPA purposes. We find this rationale to be unconvincing. While we understand the explanation FERC offers, EPA believes that there are enough environmental and public health issues of concern and significant public interest, and arguably public controversy, as evidenced by the content of the public comments mentioned above, in addition to the 20,000 or more comments already submitted since release of the EA, to warrant such an approach (i.e., preparation of a full EIS).

The EPA evidently believes any complaint about natural gas development is a basis for delaying and studying to death a natural gas pipeline and 20,000 form letters generated by computer from a radical website are evidence enough of public controversy to trigger an EIS.  All Earthjustice has to do is ask its members to make 3-4 keystrokes and we have a controversy of merit? Are you kidding?  Talk about manipulation!  It’s easy to dismiss the juvenile campaigns of the radicals to produce numbers.  Unfortunately, here we have an ultra-powerful Federal agency giving them credence, which says a lot about the maturity of the agency itself.  Worse, the EPA wants to use them to pull FERC into the trap of turning what is supposed to be an evaluation of the pipeline into an  evaluation of Marcellus Shale development as a whole – on a cumulative basis.

The emphasis on cumulative impacts is no small thing and explains why the Delaware Riverkeeper and the DSC are so interested in this project.  They desperately want to gain to bog down Marcellus Shale development in a cumulative impact analysis that will slowly strangle it.  This has been their pitch all along with the DRBC and the Marc 1 pipeline is simply a target of opportunity, even though it lies while outside the Delaware River watershed.  If they can establish this principle somewhere, it can be used as a delaying tactic everywhere.  Sensible people know cumulative impact studies are nothing but mindless speculation based on current technology and know geology.  If one had been 2-3 years ago, for instance, it would have been based on 160 acre drilling units and estimated four times as much land disturbance as will take place with the 640 acre units now being employed.  Such studies are pointless for everyone except committed opponents.  What’s really needed is continuous impact analysis that allows the process to be constantly improved.

EPA also states “cumulative impacts on important resources are likely to occur from construction and operation of gas extraction related facilities (e.g., access roads must be improved to accommodate heavier truck and equipment traffic).”  So, the evaluation of a pipeline, by this criteria, must encompass a study of the impacts on roads from gas drilling in the region the pipeline will serve.  It’s as if we had to evaluate the impacts of immigrants seeking jobs in America before we could erect the Statue of Liberty because the latter might encourage the former.  This is nothing more than bureaucratic slight of hand to hide the fact EPA wants to control everything (and I meanEVERYTHING) and some people want it that way.

Notice also how the Earthjustice form letters all emphasize cumulative impacts and other points raised by the group could almost be the outline of the EPA comments.  The language is similar and the emphasis is almost identical, suggesting to anyone familiar with the way these things happen that there may have been cooperation of some sort between Earthjustice and EPA’s Philadelphia Regional Office.  There at least appears to be an unholy alliance of radical environmentalists within both EPA and Earthjustice (which is a frequent ally of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the force behind so many anti-gas initiatives).

Regardless, such discussion misses the larger point – that the EPA is trying to not so gently shift the debate from the project to the industry, which is a tactic of the anti-gas radicals.  The project is a pipeline and not the development that necessitates it.  One can argue pipelines are a prerequisite of drilling or vice-versa but to suggest every project bears the burden of justifying both is to carry analysis to absurd lengths (and beyond its capacity to be accurate) that puts FERC in charge of land use and the types of industry a region shall have.  EPA, of course, wants such authority and is trying to secure it by any number of means, but neither Federal agency should ever have it.  Land use is matter for the states to decide and, even then, must be constrained by property rights.  The EPA comments, if treated seriously, would make every single gas-related project requiring Federal permits a donnybrook debate on the Marcellus Shale, fossil fuels and the like.  It’s exactly what the radicals want and EPA is indirectly (we hope it’s only indirectly) colluding with them to bring it about.  As sad as this is, it does appear FERC, at least, is acting responsible and will not be swayed by such tactics.  One can only hope.

UPDATE I: Someone just sent us a link to a long story about this issue on something called Press Action.  This is a website devoted to every radical leftist cause imaginable, so the fact they sided with Earthjustice was no surprise.  We were also not surprised they described the astroturfed pushbutton internet campaign as a “firestorm of protest.”  These are tactics of environmental extremists and we’ve become used to them.  What DID surprise us was the not so subtle appeal to violence in the very last paragraph when the said:

Or some anti-natural gas industry activists, frustrated with the federal government disenfranchising them from the process, may decide to embrace various forms of direct action to stop natural gas development.

This is the level to which our opponents are now descending – if they cannot win honestly through the normal courses of action, they are quite willing to go to “direct action,” code for violence and other forms of not so civil disobedience.

by Tom

Check out EID: Marcellus Inative on Facebook Here!

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