Drilling in the Marcellus Shale is not likely to happen any time soon, according to a Three Rivers Development Foundation official.

Tom Wilber, the director of Three Rivers’ Energy Services said one key reason for a delay in drilling is the cost of natural gas is at a 10-year low.

“It’s now around $2.50 (per BTU),” Wilber told the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency board Thursday. “Now, it’s predicted that will provide a $100 billion uplift to the economy, so that’s the good part.”

With the price of natural gas so low, drillers are pulling their rigs and heading toward areas where the more lucrative “wet” gases such as ethane and butane may be extracted, Wilber said.

Drilling for natural gas in Pennsylania now benefits some areas of Steuben, bringing in lodging, food and retail revenues, and competitive jobs, he said. Chemung County is now tops the state in sales tax growth, he said.

Wilber’s report to SCIDA is part of Three Rivers plan to develop long range plans based on drilling for natural gas in the shale located in the Southern Tier.

(Click to read the entire article)

A Nunda company that produces organic products has expressed its concern to local and state officials that New York’s organic industry may be in danger if hydraulic fracturing commences.

As explained by Once Again Nut Butter, a Nunda company that produces organic nut butters, New York is currently the third largest producer of organic foods in the U.S., and all 1,600 organic farms in the state could be in jeopardy of losing organic status, Gael Orr, communications maganger for Once Again said.

The company stated in its January newsletter that hydrofracking is exempt from a half dozen federal statutes: Safe Water Drinking Act; Clean Water Act; Clean Air Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and National Environmental Policy Act.

Such exemptions, referred to as the “Haliburton Loophole,” have left Orr scratching her head and wondering how this could be. With these exemptions, Orr wonders if the gas companies would have the moral fiber to take responsibility on their own.

(Click to read the entire article)

Wind generated electricity requires back-up capacity of conventional power stations. This capacity is required to deliver electricity to consumers when wind supply is falling short. To have the non-wind power stations ramp up or down to compensate for the stochastic wind variations causes extra efficiency loss for such power stations. How much efficiency is lost in this way and how much extra fuel is required for this extra balancing of supply and demand is unknown. In this article we attempt to make an educated guess.

The extra fuel required for the efficiency loss must be added to the fuel required for building and installing the wind turbines and the additions to the power cable network. While these extra requirements may be too small to notice when the installed wind power is a small fraction of the total capacity, matters change when wind capacity becomes significant. Based on the German situation with 23 GW of installed wind power, we show that it becomes doubtful whether wind energy results in any fuel saving and CO2 emission reduction. What remains are the extra investments in wind energy.

Conclusions:

  1. It is necessary to establish on the basis of data, rather than model predictions, the level of extra fuel use caused by decreased efficiency of fossil back-up for wind power, before countries translate large investment plans in wind energy into reality.
  2. Wind energy easily costs more than it yields, not only in monetary terms, but also in non-sustainable energy use. Thus it will easily increase rather than decrease CO2 emission.
  3. Electricity companies must urgently provide the real data on extra fuel required to back up for wind-powered generators.

Faced with decade-low natural gas prices that have made some drilling operations unprofitable, Chesapeake Energy Corp. says it will drastically cut drilling and production of the fuel in the U.S.

Chesapeake, the nation’s second largest natural gas producer, said Monday that it plans to cut production 8 percent. That means the company would produce the same or slightly less natural gas in 2012 than it did in 2011. Chesapeake produces about 9 percent of the nation’s natural gas.

That’s a change from the dramatic increase in domestic output seen in recent years. Chesapeake and other drillers have learned to tap enormous reserves of natural gas trapped in shale formations under several states using a controversial drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling. The drillers force millions of gallons of water and sand, laced with chemicals, into compact rock to create cracks that serve as escape routes for the gas.

Extreme weather for two winters and two summers kept natural gas prices high by boosting demand for home heating and power generation. But this season’s mild winter weather especially in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, has crimped demand and led to a glut.

(Click to read the entire article)


New York State Electric and Gas began sending notifications to its customers Monday advising them of unauthorized access to their personal information.

There is no evidence that any customer data has been misused or that there was any malicious intent, according to NYSEG, which has consulted with police and computer forensic experts. The investigation is ongoing.

The breach involved an employee at an independent software-development firm contracted by NYSEG. The unidentified employee allowed unauthorized access to one of the company’s customer information systems. The database contains Social Security numbers, dates of birth and, in some cases, financial institution account information.

“We take our responsibility to protect customer information very seriously, and we have robust information technology security measures in place,” said Mark S. Lynch, president of NYSEG.

As a precaution, NYSEG has arranged for Experian to provide NYSEG customers with a year of free credit monitoring to identify possible fraudulent activity.

A helpline has been established to assist NYSEG customers. For help, call (877) 736-4495. The helpline will be staffed from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Fracking foes plan Albany blitz

Activists out to stop hydrofracking in New York are gearing up for a major Albany lobbying blitz next Monday -- one that will include a push to enact home-rule legislation authored by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford.

Seward's bill, it turns out, has some competition in the form of another piece of legislation whose sponsor says matches Seward's local control goals while going further to erect new barriers to would-be gas drillers in New York.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, said his "Property Owners Bill of Rights" legislation is "more comprehensive" than Seward's bill because it would also require the gas industry to disclose all chemicals used and all compounds created from the fracking process. It would also force the industry to pay property owners 150 percent of the market value of real estate contaminated by drilling. It also requires drillers to provide property owners with free medical monitoring for life.

Ball, considered a maverick in the ranks of GOP senators, is also proposing a one-year moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the state.

(Click to read the entire article)

One Senate Republican and a pair from the Independent Democratic Conference held a news conference in Albany today, calling on the Legislature to pass a moratorium on hydrofracking until June 2013.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, is carrying a bill in the Senate that would officially suspend hydrofracking in New York until June 1, 2013. It’s being sponsored by Assembly Environmental Chairman Robert Sweeney in the lower house.

The bill was officially introduced today.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Ball was joined by Sens. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, and David Valesky, D-Oneida, at the news conference, along with Craig and Julie Sautner of Dimock, Pa., who are among those involved in the ongoing battle with Cabot Oil & Gas over methane contaminated water wells in the quaint township south of Binghamton.

“We do not have the protections in place at this point,” Ball said. “Being such a comprehensive and complicated issue, we’ve got to have protections from the point of industry standards all the way up to the (gas lease) contracts that are being signed right now. And those contracts that have been signed, whether or not we can go back and make sure these issues are addressed.”

(Click to read the entire article)

What could have been a contentious meeting on hydraulic fracturing turned out to be relatively mild Thursday night when residents of Fremont gathered to hear a presentation from Keuka College Professor Kasey Klingensmith.

Klingensmith stressed the importance of possible contamination associated with hydrofracking and its potential impact on the community. The flowback, or water and chemical mix used to create fissures and release natural gas, has no safe disposal, she said. There are also concerns about the impact gas company trucking would have on town roads.

“It’s a poorly regulated industry. The laws that you and I have to follow, and if you own a business or have a farm, the same laws that you have to follow, the gas industry is basically the only industry that doesn’t have to follow,” she said during the presentation at the town hall.

Klingensmith also stressed the importance of updating the town’s comprehensive plan to establish zoning rules and road protection.

Fresh on the mind of many who spoke during the comment period was the security of the town’s groundwater versus a potential boon to the area’s economy.

(Click to read the entire article)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal will not include any funding for additional gas-drilling regulators, he said Monday.

Speaking after delivering remarks at a Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance ceremony, Cuomo told reporters he won’t move to add the appropriate staff until the state Department of Environmental Conservation determines whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

It’s a “chicken and the egg” situation, Cuomo said.

“You would not be hiring staff to regulate hydrofracking unless you believed you were going ahead with hydrofracking,” Cuomo said. “And we haven’t made that determination. So the budget won’t anticipate hydrofracking approval.”

The DEC has estimated it would need 140 additional staff members before being able to properly regulate hydrofracking, a technique used with drilling that uses a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals to break shale formations and unlock gas.

(Click to read the entire article)

Ignoring taunts from anti-hydrofracking protestors marching outside, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a nearly hour-long State of the State address to lawmakers Jan. 4 without mentioning the hot-button gas drilling technique.

In his speech, the governor skipped over a section of his prepared remarks that had promised to deliver in 2012 both the state’s final rules for new gas well permits and recommendations from his own gas drilling advisory panel.

Asked about the omission, Cuomo spokesman Matt Wing said of his boss’ hydrofracking policy: “We are still waiting for the facts … We base everything on facts.”

While he’s been hunting facts, the governor has been postponing tough decisions on how to adequately fund state environmental regulators and — even more challenging — how to tax the industry.

He has also sidestepped controversial stands on which local and regional bans on hydrofracking are valid and on whether the state needs to set up a damage recovery fund paid for by gas drillers.

(Click to read the entire article)

After taking over 20,000 public comments, more than on any issue they have ever faced, New York environmental officials are getting ready for the final phase of work on their proposal to allow hydrofracking of natural gas in the state.

Wednesday was the deadline for people to make their opinions heard on a draft of the state’s environmental impact statement and proposed regulations governing the hydraulic gas drilling process. The first task facing state environmental officials is to cull any new information from those comments after three years of debate and two rounds of hearings.

They have not said when they expect to be done fine-tuning the environmental document and rules, beyond saying that the work will be completed this year.

Across the state, a sharp divide was evident this week on whether state officials need to do further study and perhaps hold another round of public review, with environmental groups arguing yes and the gas industry pressing for a quick resolution.

(Click to read the entire article)

Fracking comment period ends Wednesday

The state Department of Enviromental Conservation ends its public comment period Wednesday on hydrofracking regulations. That means written comments must be postmarked by Jan. 11, by one of two methods only:

– Electronic submission using a web-based comment form available on DEC’s website: www.dec.ny.gov/

– Paper submission mailed or delivered to:

Attn: dSGEIS Comments, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-6510.
(Include name, address, and affiliation (if any) of the commenter.

The responses came from Buffalo to Albany, from Plattsburgh to Long Island, from states as far away as Nevada.

Everyone from college students to senior citizens sent them in, even a child the age of six.

They were written online and by hand, from elected officials to everyday citizens and business owners.

They are the 18,100 comments the state has received so far on its study of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, with each submission manually logged by Department of Environmental Conservation staff.

A review by Gannett's Albany Bureau of the public comments submitted through Dec. 16, obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request, shows interest from all corners of the state. Submissions from those against hydrofracking appeared to outnumber those from supporters by at least a 10-to-1 margin.

(Click to read the entire article)

Hydrofracking input due this week

The high-pressure hydraulic-fracturing natural gas drilling method fuels strong emotions in those for and against it in New York, where this Wednesday marks something of a milestone: Jan. 11 will be the last day for the public to submit comments to the state regarding the issue.

While fracking trucks won’t be rolling in Jan. 12 — state Department of Environmental Conservation officials say they won’t begin issuing permits until they determine fracking can be done safely — the deadline is significant. After several years of a statewide moratorium on fracking — a method that blasts millions of gallons of water containing chemicals deep underground to release natural gas — the state is poised to approve the technique, albeit under what state officials promise will be tight regulations to safeguard the environment.

Proponents point to economic benefits such as the tax revenue municipalities can expect and much-needed job creation. Opponents say fracking poses health and environmental concerns that make it too risky.

Those concerned fracking will do more harm than good locally say they count on the DEC taking their comments seriously — and taking a cautious and thorough approach.

(Click to read the entire article)

A bill that would place an extended moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is circulating amongst lawmakers, with the Assembly’s environmental chairman expected to introduce it soon.

The legislation, which would officially ban hydrofracking for natural gas in New York until June 1, 2013, is sure to garner support from Assembly Democrats, who have long spoken out against the much-debated technique.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said last month that he would sponsor the bill in the Senate, giving it an all-important majority sponsor. But it’s much less likely to gain support from Senate Republican leadership, with both Sens. Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, and George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, very supportive of hydrofracking. (Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has voiced his support as well, though he did vote for a 2010 moratorium that was ultimately vetoed.)

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, issued a statement today saying she has signed on to co-sponsor the bill. The lead sponsor will be Assembly Environmental Conservation Chairman Robert Sweeney, D-Suffolk County.

“Despite industry claims to the contrary, I still have grave concerns about the ability for drilling to be done safely in New York,” Lifton said.

(Click to read the entire article)

Among the politicians, lobbyists, local officials and press corps flooding the Empire State Plaza concourse for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s second State of the State address, several dozen anti-hydrofracking protesters are wielding signs with a message leaving little doubt who they’re targeting: “In 2014, we’ll remember.”

Another read: “Governor Cuomo, If you can’t protect NY water, you can’t become president.”

The protesters—led by Ithaca environmentalist/business owner/gadfly Walter Hang—have gathered in the concourse outside of the entrance to the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, where Cuomo will give his speech at 1:30 p.m.

But with high-volume hydrofracking already on hold in New York and no guarantees the state will be ready to issue permits in 2012, will Cuomo even touch the controversial topic?

“I have no idea,” Hang said. “He should mention it, because it’s one of the most important issues facing New York.”

(Click to read the entire article)

Hydrofracking forum held in Rush

A public forum is planned to discuss the impact of hydrofracking in the Town of Rush on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 7 p.m.

The form will be held at Rush Methodist Church, 6200 Rush-Lima Road.

This public forum will provide information on the potential impact of hydrofracking in Rush and the steps that might be taken to protect the community. The forum is free and open to the public.

Jordan Kleiman (Associate Professor of History at SUNY Geneseo) will speak on “Fracking: What It Is, Where It Came From, and Why We Should Be Concerned About It.”

David Slottje (Executive Director and Senior Attorney for the nonprofit Community Environmental Defense Council) will speak on “Using Local Laws to Protect Health, Safety, and Community Assets: Safeguarding Community in the face of Industrial-Scale Gas Drilling.”

Fracking foes move to local approach

As state environmental regulators wrap up their review of shale gas drilling in New York, opponents of a drilling method called hydraulic fracturing are taking a local approach, enacting zoning and planning laws that ban the practice.

This home-rule tactic will be a key focus of environmental groups in the new legislative session that begins Wednesday with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state-of-the-state address in Albany.

Legislation is planned that would give local governments veto power over natural gas drilling through zoning authority. Sen. James Seward, an Oneonta Republican who is co-sponsoring the proposal, also called on Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens to address the need for home-rule authority within regulations that Martens' agency is proposing.

At issue is hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, which critics say could poison water supplies, while the natural gas industry says it's been used safely for decades.

(Click to read the entire article)

The latest in a series of minor earthquakes in northeast Ohio hit on Saturday, this time reaching a magnitude of 4.0 on the Richter scale.

The tremor sent some stunned residents running for cover as bookshelves shook and pictures and lamps fell from tables.

The quake struck Saturday afternoon in McDonald, outside of Youngstown, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The area has experienced at least 10 minor quakes in 2011, though Saturday's temblor was stronger than others, which generally had a magnitude of 2.7 or lower.
This time, some residents reported feeling trembling farther south into Columbiana County and east into western Pennsylvania.

Many of the quakes have struck near an injection well used to dispose of brine water that is a byproduct of oil and gas drilling. Thousands of gallons of brine are injected into the well daily, and much of it is shipped in from out of state.

(Click to read the entire article)


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