Hydrofracking Panel Members Released

Here are the members of the DEC’s High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel.

These people are going to develop recommendations to make sure the DEC can properly oversee fracking, help local governments deal with the impacts of fracking, and also evaluate the “current fee structure and other revenue streams” to make sure there is funding for the oversight of the industry.

  • Stan Lundine, former NYS Lt. Governor
  • Kathleen McGinty, Former Chair of White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton
  • Eric A. Goldstein and Kate Sinding, Senior Attorneys, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Robert Hallman, Board Chair, NY League of Conservation Voters
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr., President of the Waterkeeper Alliance
  • Robert Moore, Executive Director, Environmental Advocates
  • Mark Brownstein, Chief Counsel, Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Heather Briccetti, Acting President & CEO, Business Council of New York State, Inc.
  • Robert B. Catell, Chairman, Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at SUNY Stony Brook
  • Mark K. Boling, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Southwestern Energy
  • Senator Tom Libous, Deputy Majority Leader
  • Assemblymember Donna Lupardo

Ruffalo Rips DEC Guidelines

Actor and leading anti-hydrofracking activist Mark Ruffalo just fired out a statement blasting the DEC guidelines, saying they won’t protect New Yorkers. He focuses on the fact that the regulations only protect the watershed for NYC and the Syracuse area, and doesn’t take steps to protect other watersheds.

“The DEC apparently thinks only residents of New York City and Syracuse deserve protection, and it’s acceptable for everyone else to become collateral damage. There are thousands of watersheds in New York State. All of them are at risk, and all of them should be protected. Instead, the DEC appears to be playing divide and conquer along upstate/downstate lines.”

Now, we have yet to see the full report, but there are several things in the press release that would indicate that there will be protections for drinking water in many other areas without a full out ban on drilling in any watershed.

Ruffalo’s complete statement is after the jump.
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Hoyt Officially Announced

Governor Andrew Cuomo has just made it official, announcing that Assemblyman Sam Hoyt is going to serve as the Sr. Vice President for Regional Economic Development at the ESDC.

Hoyt’s resignation was submitted at midnight Wednesday, and yesterday he announced he was leaving the Assembly to join the administration.

“Sam Hoyt has dedicated his life to serving the people of New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “During his almost 20 years in the New York State Assembly, Sam has proven to be a dedicated public servant who puts the needs of his constituents and community first. He has demonstrated the type of dedication and enthusiasm required for this new challenge.”

Hoyt becomes the 4th member of the Assembly to join the administration, and will be the 6th vacant assembly seat that will need to be filled by special election.

Complete release after the jump.
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Martens Blasts Times’ Hydrofracking Story

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens is complaining in a letter to the editor today that The New York Times account of the proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing was unfairly reported.

In the letter obatined by Capital Tonight, Martens charges the Times “failed to present an even and objective story” and writes that the story failed to include supportive viewpoints from environmental groups.

The Times scooped midday Thursday that the state may lift its moratorium on the controversial natural-gas extraction process commonly known as hydrofracking.

The Cuomo administration initially responded that the story was “baseless” before the DEC released some details of the draft environmnetal impact statement due to be released later today. The Times story came as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Westchester and on Long Island touting the approval of a 2 percent tax cap and as the administration was announcing the closure of seven prisons across the state, making a busy news day even busier.

Most environmental groups responded cautiously to the news Thursday after the details were released, saying they would have to further review the report. But regulations are expected to include a ban on high-volume hydrofracking near the New York City and Syracuse watersheds — a move environmentalists will likely support.

The process utilizes a mixture of chemicals and water to blast through rock and extract natural gas underneath. Environmental advocates are concerned hydrofracking could damage a local water table. But business groups say drilling for natural gas in hard-hit areas of the state could provide an economic boon to the area, especially the Southern Tier region.

Martens is expected to unveil later today the proposed regulations, which would go to a 60-day public comment period.

NYTimes7_1_11

Here And Now

We should learn more about the DEC’s recommendations for hydraulic fracturing today at 11am when Commission Joe Martens addresses the media.

The plan is expected to allow for drilling in 85% of the Marcellus shale.

Both supporters and opponents are waiting to see the final report before making final judgement.

NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn, who will be a guest on CapTon tonight, says “the devil is in the details.”

The Post writes “Frack, baby, Frack.”

Governor’s prison closure plan spared the North Country.

Senator Dave Valesky will see 2 prisons in his district shut down.

Even with the news about hydrofracking, and the release of the prison closures, Cuomo’s property tax cap tour still got a lot of press.

A former Auburn Mayor says state leaders missed the mark when it comes to mandate relief.

The Journal News agrees that more needs to be done.

Some state workers were given hours to decide if they wanted to be bumped to a lower paying job or risk being laid off, before PEF stepped in to delay the process.

Some in the liberal press still have some beef with Cuomo.

Matilda Cuomo says her son is still her “little man”.
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On Second Thought…

Upon seeing the DEC’s press release, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did an about-face on hydrofracking, releasing a decidedly more positive statement than the one he sent out in the wake of the NY Times report.

“I am pleased that the DEC will permanently ban hydraulic fracturing in sensitive watershed areas and the aquifers that feed them,” Silver said.

“The Assembly also will be vigilant as the DEC moves forward and will work to ensure that no permits are issued anywhere in the state where there are any possible dangers identified by the federal EPA study.”

Extras

The secret behind the recent successes of Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie: Rich powerbrokers from the opposing party.

The Cuomo administration spent the day clearing the decks of contentious issues before the July 4th holiday.

The Monroe County Conservative chairman says he has fielded three calls from elected officials interested in challenging Sen. Jim Alesi, whom he called “burnt toast.”

On the same day Cuomo was touting his tax cap, the Progressive State Network included it on a list of the “14 most harmful and dangerous bills you may not have noticed.”

A DailyKos blogger cautions against jumping on the Cuomo 16 bandwagon.

Greg David sides with Bloomberg over Cuomo on Indian Point.

The Nation lavishes praise on the AG: “If this were a movie, we could cast (Eric) Schneiderman as Gary Cooper in High Noon – the lonely sheriff who stands up to the outlaw gang while frightened townspeople are afraid to challenge the banksters.”

On the religious exemptions in the same-sex marriage bill, Cuomo said: “I will say, gratuitously, that it’s a trap for the gay community. There is no reason for the gay community to alienate the religious community.”

The state correction officers union says Cuomo’s prison closures are “a significant threat to the safety and integrity” of the system.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is contemplating leaving his position.

No fireworks or BBQs for members of the US Senate.

Between the 20-day layoff notices and the prison closings, it wasn’t a good day for PEF, which is still in contract talks with the Cuomo administration.

This isn’t likely to help PEF’s cause.

The SUNY Board of Trustees approved the tuition increase passed by the Legislature last week.

NYSUT is itching to say “I told you so” on the tax cap.

The man behind Cuomo: Dad.

Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central host and super PAC proprietor.

Rep. Louise Slaughter thinks Obama will “get there” on gay marriage.

DEC To Allow Limited Fracking

…From “baseless speculation and premature” to complete truth in under four hours. Amazing.

Here’s the DEC press release that confirms the NY Times report earlier today that the hydrofracking ban will be lifted outside state-owned land, the NYC and Syracuse watersheds (a reversal from the 2009 draft report) and within 500 feet of primary acquifers statewide.

Approximately 85 percent of the Marcellus Shale would be accessible to natural gas extraction under these recommendations.

“This report strikes the right balance between protecting our environment, watersheds, and drinking water and promoting economic development,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

A 60-day comment period on the document will start in August.

06-30-11 New Recommendations Issued in Hydraulic Fracturing Review 11-79[1]

Hoyt Resigns (Updated)

And then there were six…vacant Assembly seats, that is.

The state Board of Elections confirms it has certified a vacancy in the 144th Assembly district, which was – up until very recently – represented by Assemblyman Sam Hoyt.

Chain of events: Hoyt quietly sent a letter of resignation yesterday to the speaker’s office, ccing the Secretary of State, who then sent it to the Board of Elections.

Hoyt is a longtime ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In fact, he was one of the few Democratic elected/political officials to back Cuomo during his quixotic gubernatorial primary challenge to then-state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, along with Monroe County Democratic Chairman/Assemblyman Joe Morelle and former Essex County Democratic Chairman Stu Brody.

The WNY political world has been speculating for some time that Hoyt would resign to take a job with the Cuomo administration – an assumption the assemblyman has repeatedly denied.

He has so far responded to neither my email nor my voice mail message seeking comment, so I guess it’s possible he’s resigning for some other reason. Hoyt gave no reason for his resignation, which was effective at 11:59 last night, in the letter he sent shortly after 1 p.m. yesterday.

UPDATE: Hoyt responded to me via text and confirmed he has accepted a “senior position” at ESD. UPDATE2: And here’s a link to the letter in which he explains his decision to the public and recalls the bittersweet circumstances of his election to his late father’s eat.

Hoyt has weathered a number of tough re-elections after he admitted in 2008 to an extramarital affair with a legislative intern. He has been involved in a massive intraparty fight in Erie County that also includes Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and former Erie County Democratic Chairman Steve Pigeon.

State Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King has reportedly brokered peace among the Erie County Democrats at Cuomo’s request – a move that required the resignation of former county chairman Len Lenihan. I’m not sure if Hoyt’s resignation is also connected to that deal.

If Hoyt is accepting a job with Cuomo, he would be the fourth Assembly member to do so. The others include: Darryl Towns (housing czar), RoAnn Destito (OGS commissioner), and Jonathan Bing (special deputy superintendent of the NY Liquidation Bureau).

There are two other vacant seats thanks to the resignations of Nettie Mayhersohn and Audrey Pheffer (now the Queens County clerk).

So far, Cuomo hasn’t called a single special election for any of these Assembly vacancies or for the seat given up by scandal-scarred ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, but he is widely speculated to be planning to call them all to be held concurrently with the September primary.

Hoyts Resignation 144th AD_2

Silver: ‘Too Many Unknowns’ To Allow Hydrofracking

Allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing would be “premature at a minimum,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said in a statement.

The speaker added the state should wait for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release its own study on the issue before the process is used in New York.

Silver was responding to reports today that a long-anticipated draft report from the Department of Environmental Conservation will recomend that the process commonly known as hydrofracking be allowed, but not in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

Silver said in the statement that,

“We would strongly oppose lifting the moratorium. There are simply too many unknowns to risk inflicting long-term, potentially catastrophic damage to New York’s environment and water supply.”

“Any action to lift the moratorium is premature and at a minimum, New York should wait until the EPA completes its own study on hydraulic fracturing before even considering whether the state should permit this type of drilling activity.”

If the reports are true and hydrofracking does indeed move forward, this would be the first major split the Democratic-controlled Assembly has had with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Environmentalists oppose the extraction process because it uses a mixture of potentially dangerous chemicals and water to extract the gas. However, business groups argue that drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region of the Southern Tier could help the economically troubled area create jobs.

The Assembly and the then-Democratic-controlled Senate approved a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing last year, but it was veoted by Gov. David Paterson.