The Bradford County Commissioners Chairman took Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale commission to task Thursday. Mark Smith spoke to the commission in Harrisburg. He has long complained about Bradford County's lack of representation on the commission.

Smith told them both are taking place in Bradford County and the commission would know that if the county was represented on it.

Some commission members wondered why 911 addresses were not connected to drilling well sites in the state and why there was no pipeline mapping.

State probe: NYPA handed out millions

As a state probe into funds handed out by the New York Power Authority under chief Richard Kessel progresses, new data show the agency gave out more than $2 million since 2009, including hundreds of thousands of dollars on Long Island.

The probe is focusing on payments the agency made, along with grants, donations, sponsorships and related giving to a wide range of organizations statewide;...

A government watchdog group says it will deliver to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's offices in Albany and Manhattan a petition signed by thousands of New Yorkers urging protection of drinking water from the natural gas drilling procedure called hydraulic fracturing.

The New York Public Interest Research Group says later Tuesday it will present Cuomo's offices at the state Capitol and in New York City with a petition signed by more than 10,000 New Yorkers who want the state to protect New York's drinking water sources from the gas drilling method known as fracking.

The process involves pumping millions of gallons of chemically treated water deep underground to break up shale and free natural gas.

Opponents of fracking say it sends polluted water into rivers and streams. Gas industry officials insist fracking is safe.

(Click to read the entire article)

Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator says he is confident that the natural gas industry is just weeks away from ending one of its more troubling environmental practices: the discharge of vast amounts of polluted brine into rivers used for drinking water.

Last Tuesday, the state's new Republican administration called on drillers to stop using riverside treatment plants to get rid of the millions of barrels of ultra-salty, chemically tainted wastewater that gush annually from gas wells.

As drillers have swarmed Pennsylvania's rich Marcellus Shale gas fields, the industry's use and handling of water has been a subject of intense scrutiny.

(Click to read the entire article)

Shale Progress In New York, Setback?

Leroy Township, Pa. - Some policy makers predict it's only a matter of time before marcellus shale drilling gets the "green light" in New York State. But will recent drilling "set backs" delay or prevent drilling in New York?

Just last week, a gas well in Leroy Township, in northern Pennsylvania, exploded. As a result, thousands of gallons of fracking fluid leaked into streams and fields.
New York State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano says this is a prime example why New York State is taking its time.

Palmesano said, “I think that's just another example of some concerns that have been raised by people relative to this issue. I think that's something New York is looking at. Everyone I've talked to wants to, if and when this moves forward, make sure that it's done safely and responsibly.”

Policy makers say the New York State D.E.C. is coming out with their final environmental report in mid June. They say accidents like the explosion in Pennsylvania are unfortunate. But it shouldn't stop the progress New York State has made with the marcellus shale.

With each hydraulic fracturing operation requiring millions of gallons of water, the natural gas industry will likely look to New York's waterways as a primary source if the state puts its portion of the Marcellus Shale in play.

A bill meant to make sure that water is accounted for is navigating the halls of the Capitol and appears headed to a full vote.

Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, a Long Island Democrat who heads the Assembly's Environmental Conservation Committee, said his house will likely vote on the bill in the beginning of May as part of a package of legislation marking Earth Day. The legislation would allow the Department of Environmental Conservation to create a permitting process for withdrawals of at least 100,000 gallons per day, based on a 30-day average.

The DEC, which proposed the bill, would also be required to establish standards for the hardware necessary for withdrawing water, and keep a log of reporting and recordkeeping.

(Click to read the entire article)

Chesapeake Energy Corp. on Thursday suspended hydraulic fracturing at all of its wells throughout Pennsylvania until it determines the cause of a spill at a Bradford County drilling site.

Chesapeake said crews have significantly reduced the flow of chemical-laced water from its out-of-control natural gas drilling well near Canton.

The energy company lost control of the Marcellus Shale well site around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, officials said. Thousands of gallons of drilling fluids spewed out of the well bore, escaped containment, crossed over farm fields and went into a tributary of Towanda Creek. No injuries or fish kill were reported.

By early Thursday, Chesapeake crews had built a containment system to divert the tainted water away from the stream, and Chesapeake spokesman Brian Grove said area waterways have shown "minimal impact, if any."

(Click to read the entire article)

Natural Gas Well Blowout

Bradford County - A natural gas blowout occurred early Wednesday morning in Leroy Township, contaminating a near-by creek.

Emergency management officials in Bradford County say the blowout happened around two in the morning when something broke inside a Chesapeake Energy gas well on State Route 3308.

They say that's when frack fluids began to spill out.

The fluid is a mixture of water and salt.

The material went into a near-by field and the Towanda Creek.

DEP officials are monitoring the situation.

Crews are trying to pour mud inside the well to get the spill under control.

No injuries were reported, however because of the fluid mixture, officials say this could be an environmental concern.

Evidence is rapidly building that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial natural gas drilling technique — is far more dangerous to the environment than the natural gas industry or federal regulators want you to know.

From the Rockies to the Gulf, from the Upper Midwest to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Front there are complaints of fouled wells, stinking air, dead streams, earth tremors and, in at least one West Virginia case, an entire river gone dry. It’s all part of a frantic rush to tap and drain America’s shale gas fields before meaningful regulations can be enacted to protect drinking water and public health.

Unfortunately, as this American catastrophe unfolds in gas-producing states, Congress does worse than nothing. U.S. legislators have made fracking exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal environmental regulations.

Here in West Virginia, the action is centered on the Marcellus shale field — a gas formation stretching along an arc from Kentucky and Ohio, through Pennsylvania into New York. It’s the second biggest gas field in the world, called the American Saudi Arabia, with enough gas to meet U.S. needs for 20 years. Four years ago no one had heard of it.

(Click to read the entire article)

Evidence is rapidly building that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial natural gas drilling technique — is far more dangerous to the environment than the natural gas industry or federal regulators want you to know.

From the Rockies to the Gulf, from the Upper Midwest to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Front there are complaints of fouled wells, stinking air, dead streams, earth tremors and, in at least one West Virginia case, an entire river gone dry. It’s all part of a frantic rush to tap and drain America’s shale gas fields before meaningful regulations can be enacted to protect drinking water and public health.

Unfortunately, as this American catastrophe unfolds in gas-producing states, Congress does worse than nothing. U.S. legislators have made fracking exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal environmental regulations.

Here in West Virginia, the action is centered on the Marcellus shale field — a gas formation stretching along an arc from Kentucky and Ohio, through Pennsylvania into New York. It’s the second biggest gas field in the world, called the American Saudi Arabia, with enough gas to meet U.S. needs for 20 years. Four years ago no one had heard of it.

(Click to read the entire article)

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is giving the federal government 30 days to commit to doing a full environmental review of proposed regulations for natural-gas drilling—including hydraulic fracturing—in the Delaware River Basin, or else. If that doesn’t happen, New York will sue, he announced today. The National Environmental Policy Act requires that federal agencies complete a full evaluation of activities that could cause substantial environmental impacts.

Schneiderman said fracking poses risks to the environment and health, “including withdrawing large volumes of water from creeks and streams, contamination of drinking water supplies, generation of harmful wastes, increased noise, dust and air pollution, and harms to community infrastructure and character from increased industrial activity.” The Delaware River Basin includes the New York City watershed and portions of Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Schoharie, Green, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan Counties. More than nine million New Yorkers depend on it for water each day. Roughly 58 percent of the land area of New York City’s West-of-Hudson watershed is within the Delaware River Basin.

“Both the law and common sense dictate that the federal government must fully assess the impact of its actions before opening the door to gas fracking in New York,” he said in a statement. “New Yorkers are correctly concerned about fracking’s potential dangers to their environment, health and communities, and I will use the full authority of my office, including aggressive legal action, to ensure the federal government is forced to address those concerns.”

(Click to read the entire article)

Only a few hours after media reports began popping up on a Cornell University study about greenhouse emissions related to hydraulic fracturing, an industry trade group released a 2,000-word rebuttal meant to debunk it.

The Cornell study -- which contends methane seeping from wells during drilling and hydrofracking has a greater 20-year impact on global warming than coal emissions -- is the latest in a long line of reports heralded by one side of the issue and ripped by the other. It's a larger symbol of the three-year-old debate: The two sides of the argument don't agree on much of anything and move quickly to discredit the other's claims, leaving some wondering where to find the facts on the hotly contested issue.

"I'm struck by the fact that people on both sides of the debate hear, but don't listen," said Don Siegel, a hydrology professor at Syracuse University and a shale gas proponent. "The discourse has gotten far too polarized to the point where people just refuse to compromise or even consider the other side of the argument."

(Click to read then entire article)

A) Convene a Citizens Advisory Committee as well as a separate Technical Advisory Committee to guide the agency in its decision-making. At a minimum, these committees should be comprised of representatives from: 1) local, state and federal government agencies involved with regulating Marcellus Shale gas matters; 2) local governments, the State Legislature and Congress; 3) the natural gas industry; 4) property owners who leased their mineral rights; 5) civic, environmental, public interest and good government groups; 6) concerned citizens; and 7) academic researchers.

B) Provide public notice and accept comments for no less than 30 days regarding how the agency can best fulfill the requirements of Executive Order No. 41; respond in writing to all comments before beginning the process of revising the draft SGEIS; and afford the public regular, on-going opportunities for participation and comment.

C) Adopt the following proposed policies:

1.Discharges of natural gas flowback, drilling and production wastewaters must meet New York State’s GA (groundwater that supplies potable drinking water) effluent limitations when discharged into ground and surface waters or public and private treatment plants or re-used for hydraulic fracturing or injected into underground disposal wells. Natural gas wastewaters have been documented to contain high concentrations of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), toxic chemicals and Technology Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM). These persistent pollutants can contaminate groundwaters, “pass through” “secondary” wastewater treatment systems, concentrate in residual sludges and cause worker hazards.

(Click to read the entire article)

A Mansfield University science professor is leading a team to study the existence of water contamination of private wells near Marcellus Shale operations.

Well water samples are being taken from near where Marcellus Shale natural gas wells are located as well as sites where wells have been permitted but not yet drilled. The samples will be tested for barium and strontium. The presence of the two elements would indicate that flowback water from the hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking, is interacting with ground water near the gas wells.

When a gas well is first drilled, a hole is bored to just below the aquifer. A steel tube, similar to a flue for a wood stove, is inserted in the hole and cement is pumped from the bottom up on the outside of the tube. The end result is a casing designed to protect against groundwater contamination during the fracking process in which water and other chemicals are injected into the ground to break apart the shale and release the natural gas.

If done correctly, said study leader Paul Wendel, an assistant professor of physics at MU, the casing system works "quite well."

(Click to read the entire article)

A Canadian-based energy company that has developed an alternative to the controversial hydraulic fracturing method now widely used to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale is spreading the word about the process in Tioga County, N.Y.

Robert Lestz, chief technology officer for GASFRAC Energy Services Inc. -- located in Calgary with branch offices in Texas -- met Wednesday with the Tioga County Landowners Group in Owego, whose members collectively own about 126,000 acres.

A session for the general public is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Owego Free Academy.

GASFRAC Energy uses a process that injects gelled liquid petroleum gas, with three additives, into an underground rock formation to release trapped natural gas. During the fracking operation, Lestz said, the gelled liquid petroleum gas, or LPG, liquefies and returns to the surface as propane gas, which eliminates the need for a settling pond required by hydraulic fracking. The propane is recovered, chilled back into a gel and reused.

(Click to read the entire article)

Environmental groups from across New York rallied at the state Capitol Monday, calling on lawmakers to protect the environment and the public against potential hazards related to high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region that spans the southern half of New York and parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The technology, commonly called “fracking,” involves the high-pressure injection of chemically treated water into a gas well to crack shale about 8,000 feet underground to release trapped natural gas.

The industry says fracking is well-regulated and safe but opponents fear it could contaminate water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a scientific review of the practice.

Meanwhile, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to expedite the Department of Environmental Conservation’s review of fracking and allow permitting for gas exploration to proceed.

(Click to read the entire article)

Hundreds of opponents of hydraulic fracturing in New York gathered outside the state Capitol on Monday to protest the controversial drilling technique proposed for the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier and other shale formations.

"It will fill our roads with fleets of diesel trucks, our fields and forests with diesel-powered compressors and our rural air with benzene ... and other carcinogenic vapors," said ecologist Sandra Steingraber, an author and a scholar-in-residence at Ithaca College. "It will release known carcinogens that are right now safely locked up in the geological strata -- cadmium, arsenic, lead and radiation."

Permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing are on hold while the state Department of Environmental Conservation continues work on a second draft of its environmental impact study on the drilling technique. The report was supposed to be completed on or around June 1, with at least 30 days for public comment, but it will not be finished until late summer, said Michael Bopp, a spokesman for the agency.

The activists oppose hydrofracking, a drilling technique in which a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is used to break shale formations and release gas. They say the practice has "poisoned" water supplies in other parts of the country. People at the rally held hand-made signs with slogans like "Fooey on Fracking!" and "No Frackin' Way."

(Click to read the entire article)

If New York opens the gates on natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, one thing is certain: Heavy truck traffic throughout the region will increase.

While the state is in charge of oversight and permitting for drilling operations, regulating that traffic is up to whoever maintains the roads. Counties and municipalities throughout the Southern Tier are moving to protect themselves by taking steps to ensure any damage to their roads is covered by the industry -- and not taxpayers.

Their techniques have differed, and how those road preservation efforts will fare is difficult to predict. Some have focused on a road-use agreement as a way to target their approach, while others are looking at passing a law establishing a permitting system for heavy or concentrated truck traffic, not only from the natural gas industry.

"In the Southern Tier, all of our clients are talking about this," said Beth Westfall, a municipal attorney for Coughlin & Gerhart LLP, a local firm that represents a few dozen towns and villages. "Everybody is trying to address it in some fashion because these town officials want to make sure they protect their roads. It's a huge issue for them."

(Click to read the entire article)

Groups that lobbied on a pair of bills that would have placed a statewide moratorium on hydraulic fracturing spent about $3.6 million in Albany last year, according to a good-government group.

Those opposing the bills spent $2.87 million, while organizations in support of the legislation spent $725,643 in 2010, Common Cause/NY wrote in the latest version of an ongoing report, released Thursday.

The report analyzed two years' worth of lobbying reports, though many of the groups mentioned — such as the state Business Council and Environmental Advocates of New York — lobbied on a number of bills and topics in addition to the moratoriums.

Common Cause itself spent about $50,000 on lobbying in 2010 and supported the moratorium bills.

(Click to read the entire article)

The city of Canandaigua will not be accepting wastewater from hydrofracking operations.

The city council met Thursday to vote on the resolution and reinforce its previous stance on the issue. Hydrofracking, a process to extract natural gas out of rock, has been a hot topic among cities and towns that border the Finger Lakes.

Canandaigua mayor Ellen Polimeni, says the city is always careful about its watershed.

"We really don't know enough about what is in the water, and we have a concern for our equipment, and the whole issue in regard to hydrofracking," said Polimeni.

The mayor says Canandaigua has a wastewater system that is being upgraded, so she says she's not sure what impact hydrofracking could have on it.

NYSERDA announces new funding programs

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is launching new investment programs aimed at the clean-energy industry.

The Environmentally Preferred Power Systems Technologies Program seeks to invest up to $6 million to help develop and commercialize renewable power technologies around New York. That includes everything from fuel cells and solar panels to wind turbines and hydropower.

Available funding per project ranges from $200,000 to $1 million.

The Innovation in the Manufacturing of Clean Energy Technologies Program seeks to invest up to $2.5 million to help companies use innovative approaches in manufacturing wind turbines, solar cells, light emitting diodes, high-efficiency boilers, and more. Companies can receive up to $100,000 toward developing feasibility studies for new production techniques or up to $400,000 for field demonstrations or commercialization projects.

(Click to read the entire article)

Evidence is rapidly building that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial natural gas drilling technique — is far more dangerous to the environment than the natural gas industry or federal regulators want you to know.

From the Rockies to the Gulf, from the Upper Midwest to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Front there are complaints of fouled wells, stinking air, dead streams, earth tremors and, in at least one West Virginia case, an entire river gone dry. It’s all part of a frantic rush to tap and drain America’s shale gas fields before meaningful regulations can be enacted to protect drinking water and public health.

Unfortunately, as this American catastrophe unfolds in gas-producing states, Congress does worse than nothing. U.S. legislators have made fracking exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and other federal environmental regulations.

Here in West Virginia, the action is centered on the Marcellus shale field — a gas formation stretching along an arc from Kentucky and Ohio, through Pennsylvania into New York. It’s the second biggest gas field in the world, called the American Saudi Arabia, with enough gas to meet U.S. needs for 20 years. Four years ago no one had heard of it.

Read the entire article

Cancel Kessel

State Inspector General Ellen Biben's probe of New York Power Authority boss Richie Kessel -- first reported yesterday by Post State Editor Fredric U. Dicker -- couldn't be better timed.

As Gov. Cuomo pushes hard to reverse the culture of corruption that infests Albany politics, the last thing he needs is for folks to suspect hanky-panky at a major authority under his control.

On Friday, we called for just such a probe, after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned Kessel against handing out NYPA cash to politically influential pals, particularly those with ties to his Long Island base.

And the IG apparently is looking even beyond the areas we (and Schneiderman) have cited, having subpoenaed documents tied to dozens of no-bid contracts.
Smart. Make it as sweeping as possible.
After all, NYPA -- America's largest state-owned utility -- handles billions of dollars a year.

(Click to read the entire article)

This past week, the new head of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said gas drilling in the massive Marcellus Shale formation is the most daunting environmental issue the agency has faced in its 40-year history. No wonder: Reports and first-hand experience with the natural gas drilling method, called hydraulic fracturing — or hydrofracking — range from horror stories of contaminated drinking water to a economic boon.

New York has had a moratorium on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale since 2008 while new rules are being developed, even as other states such as Pennsylvania are already doing it.

Meanwhile, those on all sides of the issue are lining up to defend their stands in what is becoming an increasingly heated debate.

“I will put our experts up against up any of those people,” said hydrofracking supporter Jim Smith, a consultant with Corning Place Consulting who does work for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York. “We have scientists, drillers and water hydrologists” who can “debunk” myths, he said.

Countering industry leaders are professionals ranging from Cornell University professors to engineers and watershed watchdogs.

(Click to read the entire article)

Yates board reviews fracking moratorium

The Yates County Planning Board unanimously approved the Town of Jerusalem’s one-year moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing in natural gas wells. To go into effect upon the results of NYDEC study, the intent of the moratorium is designed to give the town enough time to draw up local regulation of the highly controversial process.

The board also unanimously approved the following items:
• The division of Mahlon Horning’s 81.2 acre farm on Rte. 364 in Potter into two farms, one of 66.63 acres and the other of 14.57 acres.

• A special use permit for Brad Quayle to operate a health club in an existing building in Middlesex.

• A special use permit to Grace Mirchandani to create and operate a retail shop and wine tasting room on Rte. 14 in Torrey.

• A proposal by the Town of Middlesex to amend their zoning ordinances to include a provision for private roads, per special use permit approval, in the “Lake Residential” district.

The new head of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation said the review of a massive document that will guide drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale will likely continue through the summer.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Joe Martens said DEC staff will meet twice each week starting in early April and through the summer to complete a new environmental impact statement for gas drilling that addresses issues in the 13,000 comments received on the first draft that was completed in September 2009.

In an executive order before he left office, former Gov. David Paterson directed the DEC to complete a second draft of its drilling guidelines -- the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement -- "on or about June 1." Martens said Wednesday that wasn't a hard deadline and the work would likely continue through the summer. Then, there will be a public comment period of at least 30 days.

(Click to read the entire article)


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