Dec 2nd - 2:10 pm
Trustees for Norse Energy are making a last-ditch effort to force state environmental officials to declare a final end to the hydorfracking review process or be sued in state court.
Norse Energy announced in October it was filing for bankruptcy and shuttering its U.S. operations.
Late last month, trustees for the company announced through a court filing they were preparing to sue Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with his top health and environmental commissioners, in order to release the supplemental generic environmental impact statement, a document known as the SGEIS, detailing the risks of high-volume hydrofracking.
The letter, sent Monday to state Department of Environmental Conservation Commission Joe Martens by Albany attorney Tom West, asks the state to provide a timetable within two weeks of when the SGEIS will be released or a legal challenge will be filed in the “very near future.”
Norse had filed 27 applications for permits to use the high-volume fracking technique in the Marcellus Shale.
The letter says that because of the fate of those permits was put on hold as the state missed multiple deadlines to finish the regulatory process, the company was forced to declare bankruptcy. Because the company needs to value to its outstanding debts and assets during the liquidation process, it’s pushing for a final conclusion to the SGEIS process.
Hydrofracking for natural gas is seen by the energy industry a potential boon for the upstate economy, especially in the state’s Southern Tier.
In opposition is an organized environmental movement that has been particularly effective in staving off fracking permitting in New York.
The state Department of Health began a review of the health impacts of hydrofracking earlier this year, a process that has not been completed.
Cuomo has said he would make a decision on whether to permit high-volume hydrofracking before next year’s election in November.
Nov 21st - 3:29 pm
A report released Thursday by a labor-backed group casts a skeptical eye at the number of jobs that would be created by high-volume hydrofracking in the states that include the Marcellus Shale.
The report by produced by several groups, including the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute, as well as the Parks Foundation, which has contributed to anti-fracking groups.
The study contends the number of jobs that will be created by granting fracking permits is far lower than the energy industry contends: Only four new jobs between the years of 2005 and 2012 for each new well in the Marcellus shale.
Statistically, roughly one in 795 jobs can be traced by to gas development in the Marcellus shale region, which includes six states.
New York has missed multiple regulatory deadlines for setting regulations for high-volume fracking and is operating under a defacto moratorium.
The state Business Council, a lobby group, said in a statement pushed back on the reports findings.
“Nothing has transformed the rural economies of Marcellus Shale states like natural gas drilling,” said Darren Suarez, director of government affairs. “Viewing job creation data on a statewide basis ignores the localized job creation benefit that drilling provides. The Public Policy Institute of New York State compared five Marcellus Shale counties in Pennsylvania with five Marcellus Shale counties in New York between 2009 and 2010 and found private sector employment grew. In the five-county Pennsylvania region encompassing McKean, Potter, Susquehanna, Bradford and Tioga, private sector employment grew by 4.7 percent, or 2,425 jobs, while average private sector employment in the five-county New York region Allegany, Steuben, Chemung, Tioga and Broome fell by -0.3 percent, a loss of 389 jobs.”
Nov 19th - 1:36 pm
Erstwhile N*Sync band member Lance Bass is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make hydrofracking illegal in New York.
In a video posted on YouTube today by the group Americans Against Fracking, Bass asks, “What the frack, Governor Cuomo? Fracking makes climate change worse. So please, make hydrofracking illegal today.”
The video comes as Cuomo heads to Buffalo for a fundraiser that is expected to draw protestors for and against hydrofracking.
The state Department of Health is still undertaking a review of whether hydrofracking is hazardous to human health, and no permits for high-volume hydrofracking have been granted in New York.
The state has missed multiple deadlines to put in place regulations for fracking, should permits be granted.
Nov 13th - 4:24 pm
Democratic Sen. Daniel Squadron became the second lawmaker in his conference to call for an ethics probe of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox and his ties to natural gas companies.
In a letter to Joint Commission on Public Ethics Chairman Daniel Horwitz, Squadron writes that Cox’s focus on hydrofracking and criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s delay in making a decision on the issue should be looked into, given Cox’s investments in an energy company.
From the letter:
“Is Ed Cox using his statewide position as chair of one of the state’s two major parties to advocate on behalf of a corporation that pays him more than a quarter-million dollars a year — and of which he holds more than $4.25 million in stock? Does his financial interest pose a conflict of interest, and should Mr. Cox have to register as a lobbyist for Nobel?”
Squadron also references in the letter an editorial from The Daily Gazette of Schenectady that criticizes Cox for the fracking focus. Coincidentally, an email to state Democrats from the party’s executive director Rodney Capel referenced and linked to that same editorial. The email was released around the same time Wednesday afternoon as the Squadron letter.
“The fact that Republicans claim there is no conflict of interest is laughable,” Capel wrote in his email. “Cox has millions in cash and stock from a fracking company, while he tries to convince New Yorkers that he knows what’s best for our state’s energy future.”
Earlier this month, Buffalo Democratic Sen. Tim Kennedy wrote to JCOPE urging a similar ethics review of Cox.
If anything, the letters from Squadron — a downstater — and western New York’s Kennedy represent the start of some serious surrogacy work on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a year before he runs for re-election. Perhaps it’s no coincidence the attacks are coming from Senate Democrats after Cuomo has started to publicly break with their rival Independent Democratic Conference.
Updated: David Laska, the state Republican spokesman who is a busy guy today, sent a statement in response.
“Another day, another henchman dispatched by Andrew Cuomo with an ad hominem attack on Ed Cox. Meanwhile, it’s been almost a year since the Cuomo administration said it needed 90 days to complete their study on natural gas. Cuomo’s refusal to meaningfully address natural gas is symptomatic of his refusal to meaningfully address tax reform, Medicaid, mandate relief, education, pension liabilities and corruption. It’s no wonder that Republicans swept all seven County Executive seats last Tuesday, including in Andrew Cuomo’s own Westchester County.”
Updated X2: Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie is now taking on Cox, but in a different manner. He’s knocking him for the Malcolm Smith scandal, a day after former Bronx GOP Chairman Jay Savino pleaded guilty in the case.
With the former Bronx Republican Leader pleading guilty to bribery with the purpose of allowing State Senator Malcolm Smith to buy his way onto the New York City mayoral ballot, New Yorkers deserve to know what State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox knew about this corrupt scheme.
As the chair of the state party, Ed Cox was responsible for padding the GOP ticket. It is plausible and necessary to ask whether or not the county Republican chairs worked together with the state party in a crooked ploy to swindle New Yorkers. New Yorkers deserve to know if Ed Cox was elbow-deep and in collusions with the Bronx Republican Leader.
We are entitled to the truth. The action of the Bronx Republican Leader raises alarming questions into the dealings of the State Republican Party. How deeply entrenched is Ed Cox in the Backroom Boy’s Club of corrupt political cronies who attempted to dupe New York City voters?
The full letter can be read below and after the jump.
Oct 28th - 2:46 pm
Count Sen. Mike Gianaris as a skeptic when it comes to the state Republican Party planning to use Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hesitation on making a decision on whether to allow high-volume hydrofracking.
The New York Post reported today that Republican Chairman Ed Cox next year will use the hydrofracking issue as a pressure point on Cuomo, who is running for re-election.
Cuomo is yet to make a final decision on whether to allow the controversial natural-gas drilling process. After the state missed multiple regulatory deadlines, Cuomo earlier this year threw the fracking ball to the state Department of Health, which is yet to release its own report on whether fracking poses a threat to human health.
Gianaris, a Queens Democrat and the leader of the conference’s campaign committee, told me in a phone interview that the move is a miscalcuation, especially as polls show voters are drifting toward opposes fracking.
“It just seems so out of step with the rest of the state,” he said. “If Ed Cox wants to bring Dick Cheney’s brand of politics to New York right now I don’t think he’ll have any takers.”
Opposition to hydorfracking has aroused a fervent environmental movement that has been pressuring Cuomo to firmly state his opposition to hydrofracking. Cuomo has insisted that while he recognizes the potential economic benefits of natural gas drilling, he wants science to make a final determination.
“The people of the state of New York want the state to move slowly to determine if the sceince justifies the drilling,” Gianaris said. “It’s clear the person who is out of step with what New Yorkers want is Ed Cox.
David Laska, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, responded that Cuomo played politics by not making a decision on fracking.
“No amount of shallow partisan barbs can change the fact that at every turn, Andrew Cuomo has put his own political interest ahead of promoting real economic growth in New York State,” Laska said. “We remain the most taxed, most regulated, least business-friendly state in the Nation with the highest debt per capita – just like we were when Cuomo took office.”
Sep 30th - 12:56 pm
As usual, the latest public opinion poll question on whether New York should allow high-volume hydrofracking resulted in responses from those on either side of the highly contentious issue.
The poll today found more voters surveyed are looking askance at the drilling method, with 45 percent of voters opposing hydrofracking while 37 percent back the process, the poll found.
The split is the largest plurality recorded by Siena for those against hydrofracking.
Naturally, New Yorkers Against Fracking applauded the news:
“Despite an onslaught of gas industry propaganda, the more New Yorkers look at the science, health risks and bad experiences of our neighbors in Pennsylvania, the more they oppose fracking,” the group said in a statement. “By significant margins, New Yorkers want Governor Cuomo to ban fracking because they know it poisons our water, pollutes the air and makes people sick. New Yorkers are opposed to fracking – including 52-34% upstate – because the science shows that fracking poisons people and cannot be done safely, and they know it will permanently damage New York.”
The survey results come as the state Department of Health continues to review whether the process has an impact on human health.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he understands the concerns of the business community when it comes to natural gas development, but also says he wants to make sure the drilling method is safe before permits are issued.
The state has had a de facto ban on high-volume hydrofracking for the last five years. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has missed multiple self-imposed regulatory deadlines, but has said it would issue permits should the DOH deem the process safe.
For the energy lobby, the high unemployment in the Southern Tier, where fracking is being eyed, outweighs the polling on the issue.
“New Yorkers should be concerned about this number: There are 15,300 people out of work in Broome, Tioga, Chemung and Steuben counties, where natural gas development would take place,” said Independent Oil and Gas Association spokesman Jim Smith. “This isn’t a sample. This is reality. We should survey these people. We are ignoring the real science on this issue, watching businesses leave New York, and we are blowing the best economic opportunity to come to this state in decades.”
Sep 20th - 12:37 pm
The Independent Oil and Gas Association is out with a graphic today that picks apart Department of Health Commissioner Nirav Shah’s words on what he meant when he said the health assessment study would be completed in a “in the next few weeks.”
The energy industry’s lobbying arm notes it’s been 34 weeks since Shah said that in a somewhat snarky graphic they’ve put out.
IOGA has lately shifted to a fracking “by the numbers” approach. The organization on Monday released a graphic putting into perspective how much has changed since New York has been in a defacto fracking moratorium.
“On January 30 of this year, it appeared that Dr. Shah was set to release the findings of his health assessment; his work, it seemed, was nearly complete. Yet, in subsequent weeks he inexplicably distanced himself from that statement,” said Brad Gill, IOGA of NY executive director. “Just this week, a new study concluded new natural gas development in Ohio has generated 38,000 jobs, and a University of Texas study showed methane leaks from drill sites are dramatically lower than EPA estimates. As those “few weeks” have now turned into 34 weeks, we can safely conclude the process is being held up by other reasons than scientific ones.”
Sep 16th - 12:03 pm
The chief lobbying organization that backs high-volume hydrofracking today is releasing a graphic that is aimed at illustrating how much time has elapsed since the state’s defacto moratorium on hydrofracking has been in place.
In the 1,882 days, a presidential administration has changed, Billy Joel was still performing at the since demolished Shea Stadium and Andrew Cuomo was a sophomore attorney general.
The graphic from the Independent Oil and Gas Association underscores the impatience the energy industry feels toward the state and its ongoing review of the health effects of hydrofracking.
At the urging of environmental groups, the state undertook a Department of Health review of the process earlier this year which is yet to be completed.
Aug 29th - 4:38 pm
Republican Sen. Greg Ball was among those who backed a moratorium on hydrofracking, a position that despite his staunchly conservative image set him apart from most GOP lawmakers in the chamber.
Now Ball writes in an op/ed released this afternoon that he favors a gradual phasing in of high-volume hydrofracking that is strictly and carefully regulated by the state.
Ball is seizing in part on a recent interview Cuomo did with the Capitol Pressroom in which he acknowledged natural gas development’s economic potential.
In the op/ed, Ball pointed to the ongoing economic troubles of the state’s Southern Tier, where natural gas deposits are especially rich.
“Let’s be frank, our friends upstate and in the Southern Tier are starving for job creation and without fracking will be left hopeless in a dying economy,” Ball wrote. “In fact, a recent report by the state Comptroller’s office showed that the five counties that border the State of Pennsylvania and would benefit most from hydro-fracking, have all seen a steep sales tax revenue decline. Chemung County experienced the steepest decline at 6.4 percent.”
The Putnam County Republican says he backs fracking in up to six counties along with proceeding “cautiously.”
This Governor was right when he initially spoke of a phased approach and I firmly believe it is now time for New York State to put in the proper protections and begin an incremental approach by allowing fracking in up to 6 counties. Let me also be very clear, that to do so, these protections and regulations must be backed with the funding and manpower necessary to hold the industry completely accountable. In support of the Governor’s previous proposal, I believe that we should select several test counties in the Marcellus Shale Region that have already passed resolutions in favor of fracking to begin a three-year test. After this three-year period we can allow a respected New York State university or college to do a study on the environmental, health and economic impacts. Then based on this study we can make a final decision on fracking in New York State. Let the industry put their best foot forward and be judged exactly on their merits.
The state has had what amounts to a defacto moratorium on high-volume fracking permits as it continues to review the health impacts of fracking. The Department of Health began a study earlier in the year on the process and is yet to issue its findhings.
Aug 29th - 12:10 pm
The state Court of Appeals agreed today to hear a a pair of cases that could determine whether local communities can ban gas drilling, including the controversial hydrofracking process — a decision that was praised by the natural gas lobby in Albany.
Both Norse Energy Corp. and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. have lost challenges to the local bans on gas drilling in the towns of Dryen and Middlefield respectively on the trial and appellate court levels.
But the energy companies appealed to the state’s highest court to determine the legality of the land use and home rule legislation approved by the towns that block drilling.
The court agreeing to hear the cases was praised by the Independent Oil and Gas Association, one of the primary lobbying entities backing high-volume fracking in the state.
“We’re pleased to know the merits of the issue will receive a dispassionate examination by the Court of Appeals,” said IOGA Executive Director Brad Gill. “In our view, local bans on oil and gas exploration violate New York’s Environmental Conservation Law and create patchwork public policy and a level of regulatory uncertainty that discourages business development. State laws were enacted with the specific purpose of overseeing natural gas extraction, in that local municipal leaders lack the resources, scientific background and regulatory expertise to do so. Further, state laws wisely acknowledge the need for local communities to benefit from these activities, and localities are authorized to impose special taxes on natural gas production, which for decades have helped fund towns, schools and fire districts in many New York communities.”
Given the court’s timetable for hearing cases, oral arguments are not likely to occur until May 2014 and ruling is not expected until July 2014.