IOGA: Trust In State Government ‘Exhausted’ (Updated)
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.
IOGA of NY
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