As the gas drilling boom continued in Pennsylvania, it was still largely on hold in New York as the state Department of Environmental Conservation updated its regulations on high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” the controversial technique used to tap the lucrative Marcellus Shale.

But even with the moratorium, the gas boom managed to generate plenty of controversy in the Southern Tier in 2010.

In late winter, a proposal surfaced by Chesapeake Energy to build a facility in the Town of Pulteney, near Keuka Lake, to inject wastewater from gas well drilling deep underground. The plan generated intense resistance and Chesapeake eventually pulled its permit application.

After a long, controversy-filled review process that included a state Supreme Court challenge, Schlumberger’s $30 million campus in The Center at Horseheads – built to provide fracking services to wells being drilled within a 300-mile radius – finally broke ground this spring. A handful of other gas-related companies soon followed Schlumberger into the industrial park.

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The risks and benefits of drilling for natural gas have been so widely discussed over the past year that even if you haven't been following gas drilling closely, you might now be familiar with the word "frack."

For those who aren't, the term is short for hydraulic fracturing, a practice where gas drillers shoot pressurized water mixed with sand and chemicals into a well to release natural gas from the earth. The practice has been around for decades, but it's gained new prominence in the past few years with the growth of horizontal drilling, where drillers mine the earth laterally deep underground. The technique has allowed the expansion of drilling into gas-bearing shales across the country, but it also requires large quantities of fracking fluids, sometimes millions of gallons per well. And it's this mix of water and chemicals that has generated the bulk of the controversy and a series of studies, orders and regulations in 2010 from the federal government and a number of states.

Of particular concern to regulators and public health advocates are the specific chemicals that go into that chemical mixture. The industry has fought disclosure for years and had largely been able to keep well-to-well specifics secret, but that began to change this year. Wyoming updated its oil and gas regulations and, in an effort to fend off potential federal oversight, started requiring drillers to list the name and concentration of each of the chemicals used in each well. In Pennsylvania, where drilling in the region's Marcellus Shale continues to expand, regulators have written similar rules that await final approval by the legislature. In both cases, however, drillers may be able to find exceptions.

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Big oil and gas conglomerates. They just got a little extra via the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit. If you can believe it, this tax credit — one of the best examples of wasteful spending out there — was attached to the tax-cut deal President Obama negotiated with Republicans.

U.S. taxpayers will initially bear this boondoggle’s cost. Ultimately, the poorest people around the world — and our planet itself — will pay the bigger price.

Once thought to be a promising renewable fuel, evidence is mounting that corn ethanol and other basic biofuels are actually worse for the environment than the fossil fuels they’re supposed to replace. When you take into consideration the impact on the land and the deforestation that results from biofuel-driven agriculture, you see a rise in greenhouse gases.

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A critical competitive resource will continue to be delivered to dozens of Western New York manufacturers through the next decade thanks to legislation approved Tuesday by Gov. David Paterson.

Officials from the New York Power Authority joined numerous business leaders for a news conference at Praxair Inc. to announce the seven-year extension of low cost hydropower contracts for more than 100 Western New York companies, including Praxair, the General Motors Tonawanda Engine facility, 3M, DuPont, General Mills and Nestle Purina.

The contracts begin in 2013 and run through 2020. They were reached between the New York Power Authority and Power for Economic Prosperity, a consortium of companies that buy power from NYPA.

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A lot can be spun from the results of the Nov. 2 election, but one fact is uncontrovertible: Pennsylvanians are sick of centrally planned, highly regulated, gimmick-driven economic policy. It hasn’t worked, and now they want results.

And is there a greater example of useless, wasteful government scheming than the commonwealth’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard? Coupled with the many subsidies and breaks granted to wind, solar and biomass interests, citizens get doubly whacked in their taxes and in their utility bills.

Outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell signed the state’s current AEPS in 2004, which requires major utilities to get 18 percent of their power generation from renewable resources by 2020. At least .5 percent must come from solar. This requires investor-owned utilities such as PECO Energy and PPL to drop some of their cheaper, more efficient sources of electricity like coal and gas, which keep your bills more affordable. By force of Pennsylvania law, the power companies will instead have to sell you — at a higher price — kilowatts created by wind turbines and solar panels.

Common sense tells most people (the exception being economics-challenged environmentalists) that this will inevitably increase overall electricity costs, which not only hit your power bill, but also pass through all industries and businesses into the products and services that you use. But there is a little bit of research that verifies these facts as well.

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PSC to audit NYSEG

REGION The state Public Service Commission has begun the lengthy process of conducting a management audit of Iberdrola USA's New York utilities: Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. and New York State Electric & Gas Corp., both with headquarters in Rochester.

The PSC will solicit an independent consultant to conduct the audit, noting that Iberdrola "has an international corporate structure that differs from most other electric and gas utilities in New York state."

Iberdrola SA, the parent of Iberdrola USA, is based in Bilbao, Spain.

The PSC said the audit will focus on the utilities' construction programs and operational efficiency, and how the New York operations and ratepayers are affected by decisions made outside of the state.

Completion of the audit isn't expected until May 2012.

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U.S. Says China Fund Breaks Rules

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration filed a case against China with the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, siding with an American labor union, the United Steelworkers, in accusing Beijing of illegally subsidizing the production of wind power equipment.

The decision is the second time in less than four months that the United States has accused China of violating world trade rules.

It represents an escalation of trade tensions between the United States and China over clean energy, viewed by the Obama administration as a frontier in which American companies are struggling to remain competitive.

The United States is challenging a special Chinese government fund that awards grants to makers of wind power equipment. The Americans say the fund provides subsidies that are illegal under W.T.O. rules because the grants appear to be contingent on manufacturers using parts made in China.

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Land owned by Tompkins County will not be leased for natural gas drilling if hydraulic fracturing is used, the county legislature decided Tuesday.

The legislature voted 14-1 to approve a resolution prohibiting the leasing of any county-owned land for hydraulic fracturing, a natural gas-drilling method used in the Marcellus Shale in which a mixture of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground under high pressure to crack the shale and release the natural gas.

The process is highly controversial, with opponents arguing it is detrimental to the environment, threatens drinking water, and the traffic from the drilling pads destroys local roads.

Supporters say the natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale, part of which reaches into western and central New York, would be an economic boon to the region.

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The state Public Service Commission on Thursday voted to start a management audit of Iberdrola USA's New York operating companies.

Iberdrola, a Spanish utility company, owns New York State Electric & Gas Corp. as well as Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. NYSEG serves a portion of the Capital Region.

The PSC has been undergoing management audits of utilities across the state to ensure that ratepayers are being served in a cost-efficient manner.

As he's set to leave office in less than two weeks, talk of Gov. David Paterson's legacy has centered on his rise to office, budget battles with the legislature and pesky scandals he couldn't quite seem to shake.

If there's a separate discussion of the mark he will leave on the Southern Tier, it would revolve around two words that have become part of the region's lexicon around the same time the governor's name did: Marcellus Shale.

Much like the overall effectiveness of his nearly three-year term, Paterson's decision making when it comes to the vast natural gas reserve a mile below the surface of the Southern Tier and Catskills Region has received mixed reviews, even among usually like-minded stakeholders.

"I think he was walking a very tight rope when it comes to the Marcellus," said John Holko, president of Genesee County-based Lenape Resources and a member of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York's board of directors. "To move on in government life you have to understand that nothing is all good and nothing is all bad, and I think he really did understand that."

(Click to read the entire article)

When the battle over a planned water pipeline to run between a pair of Susquehanna County, Pa., communities took an unexpected turn, no one was more surprised than Jean Carter and Julie Sautner.

The Dimock Township residents -- whose water wells were ruined by nearby natural gas drilling operations, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection -- hopped on a conference call Wednesday evening with DEP Secretary John Hanger. They were expecting to hear an update on the project before Hanger is likely relieved of his position by year's end.

What they heard instead was news of a settlement between the DEP and Cabot Oil & Gas, killing the $11.8 million project that would have provided water from Lake Montrose to 19 families in the Carter Road area of Dimock.

"We didn't know anything about it until we got on the call (Wednesday) night," Carter said. "We had no idea what was coming."

(Click to read the entire article)

CRESSON, Pa. -- Two central Pennsylvania communities are considering natural gas drilling bans based on an ordinance passed last month in Pittsburgh.

Officials in Cresson and Washington Township, two Cambria County communities more than 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, say local ordinances may be the only way to control drilling in their towns.

Washington Township Chairman Ray Guzic Jr. says his big concern is the effect drilling could have on water quality.

Pittsburgh's ordinance was passed largely to prevent fracking, the injection of chemical-laced water that breaks up rock and helps force gas to the surface. Opponents of the process say those chemicals can contaminate water supplies and even the air near wells.

Both Cambria County towns say their measures are still on the drawing board.

The Obama administration supports a full study of the effects of gas drilling in the watershed that provides drinking water for Philadelphia and New York City, but it doesn't want to wait until it's finished for drilling to begin.

Gen. Peter "Duke" DeLuca of the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the position in a letter (pdf) written to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and released today.

The letter offers the first indication of the administration's position on gas drilling in the Northeast since the day after the Nov. 2 midterm election when President Obama highlighted gas drilling as a potential area of common ground with Republicans (Greenwire, Nov. 4).

DeLuca, the Army Corps' North Atlantic division engineer, is the federal representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is developing regulations for gas drilling in eastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

(Click to read the entire article)

Fired as DEC commissioner almost two months ago, Pete Grannis has joined Environmental Advocates of New York as “special counsel.” Just after his canning — primarily the result of Grannis’ pushback against the Paterson administration’s DEC layoffs — EA Executive Director Rob Moore called it “the final insult of the Paterson administration toward environmental protection.”

At that time, Grannis said he believed the circumstances of his departure would allow him to lobby his former employer without the standard two-year bar. Even so, EA spokesman Erica Ringewald said Grannis wouldn’t be appearing before DEC.

Former Park Commissioner Carol Ash made a similar move by joining the Alliance for New York State Parks, although since she jumped instead of being pushed from her state post, Ash will not be able to lobby her old agency.

(Clock to read the press release)

Environmental groups and energy companies both claimed victory after Gov. David Paterson ordered a seven-month moratorium on some natural gas drilling in the state, although environmentalists would have preferred the broader ban that the Legislature had approved.

The outgoing Democratic governor vetoed a bill on Saturday that would have suspended all new natural-gas drilling permits until May 15. Instead, he issued an executive order prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing of horizontally drilled wells, such as those in the Marcellus Shale region of southern New York. The order stands until July 1.

High-volume hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, involves blasting millions of gallons of chemical-laced water thousands of feet underground to crack shale and release natural gas trapped inside it. The Environmental Protection Agency is examining the process to see if it imperils drinking water supplies, as opponents claim.

Permitting of gas wells in New York’s part of the Marcellus region, which also underlies parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, has already been on hold for two years while the state Department of Environmental Conservation reviews its potential effects on the environment.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY - Gov. David Paterson on Saturday vetoed a bill to temporarily ban natural-gas drilling in New York, but issued an executive order to prohibit the hydraulic fracturing process until at least July 1.

In doing so, Paterson sought to find a middle ground between environmentalists concerned about the potential harm of the so-called hydrofracking and business groups critical that the moratorium bill would impact all gas drilling in the state.

Both sides praised Paterson for his decision - a rare sign of agreement in the contentious battle over natural-gas drilling.

The executive order requires the state Department of Environmental Conservation to continue its review of the effects of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, a formation that stretches across the Southern Tier.

The order would essentially ban high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing until at least July 1, the outgoing Democratic governor said.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The agency that oversees water quality and quantity in the four-state Delaware River basin issued proposed regulations on Thursday for the natural gas drilling industry, launching what is certain to be a heated debate pitting energy companies and leaseholders against environmentalists, sporting groups and residents worried about their drinking water supplies.

The Delaware River Basin Commission published the long-awaited regulations on its website. They govern a range of drilling activities, including water withdrawals, well pad siting and wastewater disposal. The proposed rules also require drilling companies to post a bond of $125,000 per well to cover the plugging and restoration of abandoned wells and the remediation of any pollution.

The commission — a powerful federal-interstate compact agency that monitors water supplies for 15 million people, including half the population of New York City — has declared a moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling projects in the Delaware River basin until the rulemaking process is complete.

The regulations proposed Thursday are meant to protect “an incredible regional resource for the mid-Atlantic area,” said Carol Collier, the DRBC’s executive director.

Smart Grid Policy Handbook 2010: Major Government Policies, Regulations and Incentives

Smart Grid Policy Handbook 2010: Major Government Policies, Regulations and Incentives


Governments around the world have realized the potential benefits that can be derived from smart grid technology. A key benefit of a modernized electricity network through the adoption of smart grids is the ability to reduce power consumption at the consumer end during peak hours via demand management. In addition, smart grids enable grid connection of distributed power generation such as photovoltaic arrays, wind turbines, micro hydro and combined heat power generators. A smart grid also allows grid energy storage for distributed generation load balancing, and contains or eliminates failures such as widespread power grid cascading failures. Further, it drives the adoption of energy efficient appliances by modifying consumer behavior through in-home displays and variable electricity rates. In this report, the policy and regulatory steps that have been taken by various countries to implement smart grid roll-out are analyzed.

(Click to read the entire item)

Newly elected Rep. Tom Reed, RCorning, said Wednesday that he plans to pull together like-minded members of Congress to push for fuller development of the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale.

Only a day after the State Legislature approved a six-month ban on the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing to release the shale’s gas, Reed — in his first media conference call as a congressman—told reporters that the shale has great economic potential.

He also said Congress has a role in clarifying the debate, which has ground drilling to a halt in New York State while producing a boom in neighboring Pennsylvania.

“I am a promoter of developing the Marcellus Shale,” Reed said. “I believe we can do it responsibly. Now is the time to move forward.”

(Click to read the entire article)

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that he's considering a requirement that natural gas drillers who use a process called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, must identify the chemicals they inject into the ground when they drill on federal lands.

About 90 percent of federal drilling leases granted over the last decade have involved hydraulic fracturing operations as part of their initial well completion, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Salazar's announcement of a new federal review of the practice came at a forum called by the Interior Department to gather comments from industry groups and environmental advocates.

Current regulations require only that drillers using public lands use "standard prudent operating practice."

(Click to read the entire article)

The hydrofracking debate

Local environmentalists are praising the passage of a bill that could lead to a temporary ban on hydrofracking across the state. Those who support the process say the Empire State could lose out on jobs if the ban stays in place. Our Kaitlyn Ross has more on the debate.

After months of debate and several bill drafts, a moratorium on natural gas drilling in New York State has passed both the Senate and the Assembly. But as it waits for the Governor's approval, at least one local voice thinks the issue should be decided outside the Capitol.

"We need to take the politics out of this issue. We need to let the scientists and the engineers, let them do their job," said Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala.

A full report from the Department of Environmental Conservation is pending and Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala thinks the state should support the agency's effort to make sure it's done right.

"I think we need to have confidence in this organization. Fund them. Fund them so they will have the staff to monitor," Fiala said.

(Click to read the entire article)

Environmental activists and their allies in the Assembly held a news conference to praise last night’s Assembly passage of the moratorium on new natural gas wells statewide. Now on Gov. David Paterson’s desk, the measure runs through May 15 and covers the controversial hydrofracking method as well as the more conventional vertical drilling technique.

Not surprising considering the length of the debate and the possible environmental/economic impacts of hydrofracking, each side was describing the ban as — depending on who you talk to — a major common-sense victory for environmentalists or a job-killing piece of politicized hysteria.

Paterson, however, described it as “really not that big a deal” in a Tuesday-morning radio interview with Susan Arbetter of the “Capitol Pressroom.”

He acknowledged that the DEC’s work on the draft regulations wouldn’t be completed by the end of his administration — and possibly not even by the end date of the moratorium.

(Click to read the entire article)

NY Assembly Passes Drilling Moratorium

A temporary moratorium on natural gas drilling in New York is headed to the governor's desk.

The drilling moratorium bill wasn't on the agenda Monday in a special session called by Governor David Paterson, but after that meeting wrapped up, the Assembly opened a regular session to vote on it.

The State Senate passed the moratorium in August, so it now heads to Paterson for a signature.

The moratorium puts a hold on hydraulic fracturing until May. The idea is to give the state more time to understand the impacts of hydro-fracturing.

But Assemblyman Cliff Crouch says many of his constituents do want drilling to move forward. "We have an opportunity here with an energy source that's relatively clean. It's a fossil fuel, but it's still relatively clean, and done correctly, can do a good job for New York State at creating jobs," says Crouch.

(Click to read the entire article)

As the G20 summit meeting scheduled in Cancun approaches, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) co-chair, Dr. Edenhoffer of Germany, candidly admitted, “… One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy.” This has been clearly exemplified here in the United States by the fact that of the $2.2 Billion dollars of the stimulus money that was allotted for “renewables” (and all the “green” jobs it would supposedly create) — over 80% of that money went overseas (See: ). Industrial wind is a major component of the IPCC’s “climate policy” redistribution of wealth scheme, and NYS – with plenty of Big Wind lobbyists and political cronies in high places, is a major player in this redistribution of wealth and, as Al Gore & George Soros refer to it – “global governance” scheme.

The push for the redistribution of our wealth through politicalization of our energy policies was made clear once again at the annual NYS Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) “Partnership for Environmental Improvement” meeting held on 11/18/10 in Albany, when NYSERDA executive, Janet Joseph stated, “…We are looking at transforming our economic system.”

The objective of the meeting was supposed to be for NYSERDA to give Environmental Groups from across NYS an opportunity to bring their concerns to NYSERDA’s attention, so that NYSERDA could properly address these concerns. The absolute frustration we have faced at getting them to address any of our concerns over the past several years now, was made even worse at this year’s meeting. Dr. Thorndike, the Cornell professor on NYSERDA’s board who chairs these meetings, elected to skip over the folks from across NYS she knew were there about wind, while letting all the other attendees speak – despite the fact that we had all been invited by NYSERDA to this meeting, and driven hundreds of miles to get there. When it got to be 3:00 – past the time the agenda said would be allotted for our comments – and the meeting was only scheduled to go until 4:00, I decided to speak out – much to their chagrin, I’m sure.

(Click to read the entire article)

DIMOCK, Pa. -- Months of contentious debate. Ruined water wells. National attention. And a lawsuit.

Just when it looked like the natural gas-drilling divide among residents in Dimock Township couldn't get any worse, it did.

A proposed $11.8 million plan to construct a 12.5-mile water pipeline from Montrose to 14 homes in the Carter Road area of Dimock has further split the already divided region.

On one side are the affected homeowners vigorously defending their right to clean water; on the other are some area businesses and residents balking at the hefty price tag.

"It has pitted neighbor against neighbor," said Ron Carter, the namesake of Carter Road who joined the lawsuit against Cabot Oil & Gas after his water well became contaminated with methane. "I hate to see it, but that's what it has done."

(Click to read the entire article)

Environmental and public-health groups want the Assembly to pass a temporary moratorium on state permits for the practice of hydraulic fracturing—also known as hydrofracking—during Monday’s special session. The item is not on the agenda set by Gov. David Paterson, who called the session, but opponents of hydrofracking are optimistic the legislation could end up on the agenda, particularly in light of what Paterson said on WAMC radio in Albany Wednesday, said Erica Ringewald, spokeswoman for Environmental Advocates. Hydrofracking is a controlversial technique for extracting natural gas.

The governor said opponents of hydrofracking “have raised enough of an argument to thwart us going forward at this time.” Even with the “tremendous revenue” hydrofracking could bring in, the state doesn’t want to risk public safety or water quality, he said.

The Senate passed the moratorium legislation earlier this year. It would prohibit the state Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing any permits for hydrofracking in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale until May 15, 2011.

The natural-gas industry opposes the ban. The Independent Oil & Gas Association is asking Assembly members to oppose the bill because it would stop most oil and gas drilling that is currently allowed, intrude on the current work the Department of Environmental Conservation is doing and harm the entire industry in New York.

(Click to read the entire article)

There has been a lot of talk about the latest get-rich-quick (GRQ) scheme(s) called Marcellus Tight Shale Gas (MTSG) which is based on a Devonian Shale (350 million years ago) resource. It turns out that this is methane and other hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, benzene, for example) trapped in essentially non-porous rock that have the consistency of a brick. The hydrocarbons will not flow out of this rock unless the rock is fractured in a special way ("fracking"). Quite often, the formation is between 1 to 2 miles underground, and there is often saturated saltwater laden layers on either side of the approximately 100 foot layer (a former swamp/shallow ocean bottom) of shale. The hydrocarbons are not uniformly dispersed at the same concentration in the Marcellus shale formation, so there are regions of hydrocarbon rich shale and other regions without any significant organics (as in hydrocarbon chemicals) content.

These are not easy hydrocarbon reserves to extract, and they also are financially expensive to bring to market compared to "easy gas". But, since most of the easy pickings of natural gas have been developed and are being or have been drained of gas in North America, our hydrocarbon addiction has resulted in a "seeds and stems" situation, where we are getting down to the dregs. If we want to keep using and living large (energy wise), it's time to use up the bottom of the barrel stuff - beggars can't be too choosy, after all.

Anyway, we could spend many large fortunes to extract some of the Marcellus gas (followed by Utica Shale gas as the next hydrocarbon adventure) and in the process make some people really rich as well as a significant number who might be able to cling to a middle class lifestyle for a while. However, keep in mind the fate of mining towns; once the mine has been played out, what remains is a ghost town and quite often a big mess (toxic mine tailings). Once the "sweet spots" in the Marcellus regions have been tapped, then we need to move on to energy resources based on something else, such as something that won't deplete and also cause all kinds of pollution problems. Some say that maybe we should just skip this temporary patch and get on to a viable future. But if we do that, what of the fortunes to be made by the wannabe or already are but not sufficiently so Methane tycoons? Won't they be robbed of their potential methane/hydrocarbon riches based on our collective resource? Or what about the path not chosen - renewable energy - won't those riches go to someone/somewhere else while we tubed our money on Marcellus Pipe Dreams?

(Click to read the entire article)

A major Election Day shakeup rocked the Broome County Legislature and crowned a new majority party, and it could have an impact on the debate about leasing county-owned land for natural gas extraction.

Jerry Marinich, who is expected to be officially tapped by his Republican colleagues as the legislature's next chairman come Jan. 1, said he would allow land-owning legislators to decide whether to recuse themselves from resolutions regarding lease offers. That would mark a reversal from current chairman Daniel D. Reynolds, a Democrat, who acted on legal advice to bar four legislators from voting or discussing the offers because of their ties to landowner coalitions.

"I'm going to -- as a chair, unless I'm told legally I can't -- allow them to speak or vote if they so choose, unless they want to recuse themselves," Marinich said. "I'll leave it up to them to make their own choice."

Legislators Marchie Diffendorf, R-Kirkwood; Stephen Herz, D-Windsor; and Ronald Keibel, R-Whitney Point, belong to landowners coalitions and will return to their legislative seats in 2011.

(Click to read the entire article)

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) -- A natural gas driller has ended operations in two northeastern Pennsylvania counties after the company deemed them unlikely to produce commercially viable wells.

Encana Oil and Gas had drilled two exploratory wells in Luzerne County but announced Thursday it was stopping operations there and in neighboring Columbia County.

Encana and partner company Whitmar Exploration were the only companies trying to tap the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation in Luzerne County, where they'd leased more than 25,000 acres.

When Chesapeake Energy Corp. began ramping up its natural gas drilling operations in northern Pennsylvania two years ago, it quickly realized the rural region lacked a sufficient number of apartments and hotel rooms to handle the sudden influx of out-of-state workers.

So the Oklahoma City-based driller built a $7 million residential complex and training center that company officials hope will help ease the housing crunch.

Chesapeake held an open house Thursday at its campus in Athens Township, Bradford County, along the New York state line. The low-slung dormitories can hold about 280 workers, and the fenced complex includes a cafeteria, recreation center and laundry facilities.

The workers moved in last week.

“At a certain point, it became very difficult to find places for employees to live,” said Brian Grove, senior director of corporate development. “This will take some of the pressure off the local housing market.”

(Click to read the entire article)

A much-debated $7.8 million lease offer for the gas rights to thousands of acres of Broome County land is set to be put up for a vote Thursday by the legislature.


Wednesday, Denver-based Inflection Energy, a startup natural gas company, lengthened the timetable for the county to accept the deal, opening the door for legislators to table the vote for another month.

In an e-mail sent to County Attorney Joseph Sluzar, Inflection CEO Mark Sexton said the company has decided to extend the offer until Dec. 17, one day after the legislature's regularly scheduled December session.

(Click to read the entire article)

Ron Gulla, a farmer from Hickory, Pa., says he had no idea what he was getting into when he leased his land for gas drilling.

“When I saw what was happening on my property, I couldn’t believe it,” Gulla said. “They totally misinformed us and misrepresented the lease.”

Over the past few years, he saw his farm – in a rural area just south of Pittsburgh – become a large industrial site over which he had no control, and had his water supply tainted by high levels of toxic chemicals, he said.

Gulla – who also sells construction and forestry equipment and once spent six years working in the oil and gas industry – tried to take out a mortgage loan to finance a lawsuit against the well operator, Range Resources, but was told by the bank that his land was basically worthless because of the drilling activity there.

Gulla told gutwrenching stories of other farmers in Washington County whose property was virtually ruined by drilling. Many of their calves have been born with strange deformities, he said. Cows and horses – even dogs – have been sickened or killed from drinking the water from streams and ponds near the well pads. Folks living near compressor stations have had serious health issues from air pollution, he added.

(Click to read the entire article)

Sister utility companies New York State Electric and Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric are looking for large-scale energy-saving proposals to fund.

The proposals must be from nonresidential customers or third-party aggregators working with those customers and be expected to save at least 100,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity by October 2012.

Proposals that save the most energy at the least cost will receive funding under the utility companies' block bidding program.

According to RG&E and NYSEG, programs that could receive funding might include large renovation projects that don't fit into existing NYSEG or RG&E lighting or rebate programs or aggregated bid of combined energy savings projects submitted by a third party from a number of customers.

To apply, go to or, click on "Energy Efficiency Initiatives" and then on "Block Bidding."

(Click to read the entire article)

Natural gas has always been the ugly stepchild of our national energy debate, never enjoying the political muscle of oil and coal, and never capturing the imagination like solar panels and wind farms. And to top it all off, it was in short supply.

But that is changing, and now this stepchild is being touted as the hope of the future - the answer to our energy problems.

What has brought about the change is there is a new unconventional process for extracting natural gas from shale, a dense rock formation two miles underground. And if you're sitting on top of it, you may become a new American phenomenon: a "shaleionaire."

And yet, if the BP spill taught us anything, it's that exploring for energy has safety risks. But that can get lost in all the excitement.

What is increasingly evident is that shale gas is overwhelmingly abundant right here in the U.S.A.

"In the last few years, we've discovered the equivalent of two Saudi Arabias of oil in the form of natural gas in the United States. Not one, but two," Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl.

(Click to read the entire article)

Gas drilling in TV spotlight

Hollywood, meet one of the Southern Tier's most divisive issues.

Popular CBS television drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" took a crack at hydraulic fracturing -- a natural gas extraction technique -- with a storyline Thursday that centered around a fictional gas company, poisoned water and a pair of murders.

Titled "Fracked," the episode featured a journalist who was on the brink of exposing "Conservo Solutions" of contaminating water through hydrofracking when two of her sources turned up dead. At one point, a rancher set off a massive explosion when he dropped a cigarette down his water well.

While the episode ended inconclusively, the gas company was thought to be behind the killings to keep the story from getting out.

(Click to read the entire article)

The state position that could have the greatest impact on the Southern Tier was not up for grabs on Election Day.

In fact, it's never up for election at all.

There's only one vote that counts when it comes to finding a commissioner for the state's Department of Environmental Conservation: Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo's.

With the DEC's review of permitting guidelines for drilling in the Marcellus Shale expected to drag into 2011, and an EPA plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay watershed set to be finalized by year's end, all eyes are on Cuomo as he assembles his administration and decides who will lead the dwindling agency.

(Click to read the entire article)

BINGHAMTON -- A proposed plan for a state-mandated review of a Broome County natural gas lease drew concern from a Department of Environmental Conservation official in September, according to internal correspondence.

Betty Ann Hughes, then the DEC's chief of State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and training, said in a pair of messages that without the county completing some analysis of "the potential impacts of typical development activities" on land offered for lease, she would be "concerned that the lease action and supporting SEQR record could be vulnerable to challenge."

The e-mails, obtained by Ithaca-based activist Walter Hang and provided to this newspaper, were sent to a pair of county attorneys and Frank Evangelisti, acting commissioner of the Broome County Department of Planning and Economic Development. They were sent in response to a message from Evangelisti seeking an opinion on how the county should proceed with the SEQR process.

County administration has pushed a resolution that would set the parameters of a "generic" gas lease to define terms and conditions to be included in any offer the county would consider, including a current $7.8 million offer from Denver-based Inflection Energy. That resolution would also approve a completed Environmental Assessment Form for the state review process, and a separate resolution would declare signing a lease with the generic terms would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

(Click to read the entire article)

It is puzzling that the New York state Senate placed a moratorium on Marcellus Shale fracking to ensure an adequate review of safety and environmental concerns associated with large water use hydraulic fracking. The senators decided that the health and safety of its citizens was more important than short-term economic gains.

On the other hand, Pennsylvania politicians steadfastly deny there may be a problem linked with pumping 4 to 6 million gallons of contaminated water into the ground for each horizontal well being fracked.

It seems likely Pennsylvania politicians will continue to support money over the welfare of its citizens. According to Follow the, Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett alone accepted $740,404 in contributions from oil and gas interest for his election. Do people really think he will have their best interest in mind when dealing with the gas industry?

The comedian Ron White once eloquently commented that "you can't fix stupid." Makes you wonder if he had Pennsylvania in mind.

The board of a Pennsylvania state water and sewer project financing agency is offering nearly $12 million to extend municipal water service to residents in the midst of heavy Marcellus Shale gas drilling.

The Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority board voted Tuesday to approve the application by the Pennsylvania American Water Co.

The state Department of Environmental Protection backs the step and is planning to sue a Houston-based drilling company to recoup the cost.

State officials say Cabot Oil & Gas' operations in Susquehanna County contaminated the water wells of 14 households in Dimock and Bridgewater with methane gas. Cabot denies it's responsible for the polluted water wells and opposes the project.

Residents are to be connected to the water system of Montrose, a town about six miles away.

The cost of “green power” is too high for several reasons. Cost quoted in this article is selective at best. A “Wind power would have increased the monthly bill of a typical residential customer by 0.2 percent” ignores the fact that the increase is factored into the larger pool of available power sources. I would refer you to the active Cape Wind project in Massachusetts. The initial estimated rates to charged customers would be 18.7 cents per kilowatt hour. Under a 15 year agreement the electricity would increase 3.5 percent each year that pushes the final price to about 31.7 cents in the final year of the contract.

These rates far exceed the rates the average consumer pays today for electricity. Also final construction cost of the project may exceed $2.5 billion. The estimated taxpayer’s subsidy for this project $600 million! In addition the 130 turbines may produce a maximum of 420 MW of electricity. Unfortunately wind farms have a very low capacity factor i.e. they produce on average 25% of the listed capacity. In other words the 420 MW nameplate capacities is in reality 105 MW. Finally, many of the people commenting on this article refer to oil as a problem; perhaps. But the Department of Energy reports that less than 1% of the fuel source used to produce electricity in the United States comes from oil.

Consider the science of renewable energy before committing billions to what may be flawed renewable energy source.

Roy T. Lindberg

Clarence, NY 14221

When it comes to natural gas, Nov. 2's election brought a mixed bag of incumbents and newcomers with various takes on how New York should proceed with its moratorium on drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

The state's Attorney General-elect, however, took one of the strongest stances against hydraulic fracturing of any candidate statewide.

Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who handily defeated Republican gas-drilling supporter Dan Donovan on Tuesday, has said he will sue to stop the controversial drilling process of hydraulic fracturing -- until it is proven safe -- and aggressively go after drillers who break the rules.

"As Attorney General, I will build on the strong Cuomo environmental record and ensure that the office's environmental bureau remains active and engaged to investigate and protect our water supply," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Neither the state nor the federal government has determined that hydrofracking is a safe practice, and I will sue to make sure that no drilling takes place until those determinations have been made."

(Click to read the entire article)

This past summer, representatives of the lake and watershed associations of the nine publicly-owned and inhabited Finger Lakes met at the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva to begin the process of forming a new organization that will focus on the unique needs of the Finger Lakes area of our state.

Individuals from the following lake and watershed groups participated: Canandaigua Lake Watershed Association, Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, Conesus Lake Association, Honeoye Valley Association, Keuka Lake Association, Otisco Lake Preservation Association, Owasco Watershed Lake Association, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, and Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association. These citizen-based groups represent over 7,000 members.

At the end of that meeting, all nine associations agreed to form an alliance that would span the Finger Lakes, and represent the allied interests of the individuals living in their geographic area. The Finger Lakes Regional Watershed Alliance was formed.

The stated purpose of the Finger Lakes Watershed Alliance is “to bring together the members, expertise and desires of the Finger Lakes watershed associations to preserve and protect the watersheds of the Finger Lakes region with a collective regional voice.”

(Click to read the entire article)

A natural gas giant announced Thursday it is set to purchase the mineral rights to a half-million acres in the Appalachian Basin -- including significant acreage in parts of Chemung, Tompkins, Cortland and Cayuga counties -- from a competing company

Chesapeake Energy Corp. will pay $850 million, or about $1,700 an acre, for the rights currently held by the Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Corp., Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said in a conference call Thursday. He declined to say exactly where the acreage is located, but Anschutz announced earlier this month that it had agreed to sell the rights to the 500,000 acres it holds in New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania to an undisclosed buyer.

The deal is set to close later this month.

"We've been poking around and we saw something we liked and we bought it," McClendon said.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York State’s leading energy organizations will highlight ambitious policies and initiatives for enhancing the state’s clean energy future at the Advanced Energy 2010 Conference scheduled for Nov. 8-9 at the New York Hilton in New York City.

Produced by the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (AERTC) at Stony Brook University, the conference will focus on clean and efficient energy practices and technologies for enhancing the state’s electric power system and for giving rise to major economic and environmental benefits. The major host sponsors of the conference are the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), General Electric and Stony Brook University.

“Next week’s Advanced Energy Conference is a can’t miss event for anyone interested in a future electric power industry that integrates the latest generation of clean energy technologies for increased renewable power supplies, reduced transmission congestion and power costs and improved electric service reliability,” said Robert Catell, chairman of the AERTC Board of Advisors and former chairman of National Grid, USA. “These technologies are essential for a 21st century economy, making it imperative that government and leading energy industry organizations marshal their efforts toward advancing them. This will be highlighted by the presentations, discussions and exhibits at the upcoming Advanced Energy Conference, which will mark the fourth year AERTC has held the event.”

(Click to read the entire article)

The New York Power Authority will conduct a public hearing this week in Syracuse to solicit opinions on continuing the sale of cheap state-owned hydropower for use by Upstate residential customers.

Some 455 megawatts of power from the Niagara and St. Lawrence hydroelectric facilities is sold at cost to three Upstate utilities, benefiting more than 2.5 million residential customers of National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric. Residential customers saved $2 to $4 a month in 2009, according to Gov. David Paterson’s office.

Some economic development advocates say the electricity — valued at about $82 million below market in 2009 — could be better used to subsidize business growth. Paterson and Senate leaders this year backed a plan to use some of the power for economic development, but the plan was blocked in the Assembly.

NYPA is proposing to extend its current contracts with the utilities through 2011, subject to revocation with 30 days notice.

Public comments will be taken 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Syracuse City Hall, Common Council Chambers, 233 E. Washington St. Written comments can be submitted until Friday to or to Karen Delince, NYPA corporate secretary, 123 Main St., White Plains, NY 10601.

Gas drilling forum in Elmira

A public forum called "The Rest of the Story: The Real Impacts of Gas Drilling"
will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Trinity Episcopal Church Parish Hall at the corner of Church and Main streets.

Speakers include: Louis Allstadt, former Mobile Oil former executive vice president; Chris Burger, chairman of Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition; Ron Gulla, an affected farmer from Hickory County, Pa.; Bret Jennings, director iof Hallstead Great Bend Sewage Authority; Jack Ossont, community organizer and regional activist; Dr. John F. Stolz:, director Center for Environmental Research & Education, Duquesne University.

A panel discussion with a question and answer session will follow.

Shale gas plays in the United States are commercial failures and shareholders in public exploration and production (E&P) companies are the losers. This conclusion falls out of a detailed evaluation of shale-dominated company financial statements and individual well decline curve analyses. Operators have maintained the illusion of success through production and reserve growth subsidized by debt with a corresponding destruction of shareholder equity. Many believe that the high initial rates and cumulative production of shale plays prove their success.

What they miss is that production decline rates are so high that, without continuous drilling, overall production would plummet. There is no doubt that the shale gas resource is very large. The concern is that much of it is non-commercial even at price levels that are considerably higher than they are today.

Recent revisions to SEC rules have allowed producers to book undeveloped reserves that questionably justify development costs based on their own projections in public filings. New reserves are being booked at the same time that billions of dollars in existing shale gas development costs are being written down because the projects are not commercial. Concerns about the logic of ongoing gas-directed drilling while prices collapse have been partly diffused by a shift to liquids-rich plays like the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas. These new ventures, however, produce significant volumes of gas which is partly why gas prices continue to fall.

(Click to read the entire article)

With Election Day right around the corner, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York has issued its endorsements of candidates seeking office on Tuesday.

Not a whole lot of surprises in their list. The JLC endorsed the seven state senators who voted against a moratorium bill that overwhelmingly passed that house earlier this year, as well as a handful of others running for Assembly, Congress and statewide office that have pledged support for natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Just a note: I'm only passing this along. I'm not sure if New York Residents Against Drilling or environmental groups are making any endorsements ahead of Tuesday's vote, but if they are I'd be happy to post them here.

The JLC endorsements are as follows:

Sen. Tom Libous, 52nd NYS Senate District
Sen. George Maziarz, 62nd NYS Senate District
Sen. Betty Little, 45th NYS Senate District
Sen. Joseph Griffo, 47th NYS Senate District
Sen. Andrew Lanza, 24th NYS Senate District
Sen. Catherine Young, 57th NYS Senate District
Sen. Darrel Aubertine, 48th NYS Senate District
Clifford Crouch, 107th NYS Assembly District
Gary Finch, 123rd NYS Assembly District
Phil Palmesano--136th NYS Assembly District
Dan Donovan—Attorney General
George Phillips--22nd Congressional Race
Richard Hanna - 24th Congressional Race
Tom Reed-- 29th Congressional Race

Wind farm developer First Wind Holdings has put its IPO on hold after cutting it’s price range by 24%, Reuters reported. Boston-based First Wind, which is funded by private equity firm Madison Dearborn and hedge fund operator D.E. Shaw, originally aimed to raise $300 million from the offering. The company faced skepticism from investors due to a heavy debt load, Reuters reported.

(Reuters) - Wind farm owner and operator First Wind Holdings Inc canceled its IPO after cutting its expected price range by 24 percent and facing investor skepticism about its balance sheet and wind industry financing.

The company, which had planned to raise $300 million in its IPO but cut that figure back to $228 million on Wednesday, has been posting losses and had outstanding debt of more than half a billion dollars as of Sept 30. It had hoped to list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “WIND”.

Some U.S. government financing — of which First Wind has received hundreds of millions of dollars — could be suspended at the end of the year. Analysts have also warned that weak electricity prices could be too low to secure private financing.

(Click to read the entire article)

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Five Republican state senators have written to their caucus leader, asking him to revive the stalled negotiations over imposing a new tax on natural gas extraction that Gov. Ed Rendell has said were killed by their party.

The five southeastern Pennsylvania lawmakers wrote to Senate President Joe Scarnati late last week, urging him to work toward enacting a tax on the state's booming Marcellus Shale gas exploration before this year's legislative session ends.

They disagreed with the Democratic governor's claim that Republicans have not bargained in good faith, but said the state cannot miss the chance to establish a reliable source of tax revenue.

"We also believe that any agreed-to legislation should include a regulatory scheme that will provide enhanced environmental and safety protections to prevent damage to our environment while ensuring that we have a sustainable natural gas industry," they wrote.

(Click to read the entire article)

Anti-gas drilling "terrorists" to show film Sunday

Jeff and Jodi Andrysick had saved up $10,000 to try to get their dream of a multi-vendor farmers' market up and running. But after a natural gas giant chose their town, Pulteney, near Keuka Lake, as the first place in New York to try storing hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid, the Andrysicks put their dream on hold and used the money to fund an anti-gas drilling documentary: "All Fracked Up."

In January, Pulteney residents learned that Chesapeake Energy had submitted paperwork with state and federal agencies seeking to convert a defunct traditional natural gas well in the town into a disposal facility for wastewater from natural gas drilling using horizontal hydro-fracturing in Pennsylvania.

Jeff Andrysick said when they learned about the plans, they spent $1,200 to take out half-page ads in the newspaper and to mail letters to their neighbors -- including the many lakefront cottage owners who only live in Pulteney part-time.

(Click to read the entire article)

ALBANY -- Environmental groups, unions and lawmakers on Friday publicly condemned Gov. David Paterson's decision to abruptly fire state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Pete Grannis.

Grannis' termination on Thursday came shortly after an internal DEC memo was leaked to the media this week that bashed Paterson's proposed layoffs at the agency.

The agency is slated for 209 layoffs this year. If the layoffs go through, it will have lost 23 percent of its work force since 2007, the memo said.

"We find it abhorrent that the governor and his staff fired our commissioner without a hint or an elementary consideration of due process, which is a strong principle of the labor movement and the American judicial system," said Wayne Bayer, who sits on the executive board of the Public Employees Federation union.

(Click to read the entire article)

DEC chief fired after memo on jobs

ALBANY -- Pete Grannis, state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, was fired effective immediately Thursday in the wake of an agency memo that was critical of layoffs planned at the agency.

Jessica Bassett, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, confirmed the firing of Grannis, a former state assemblyman from Manhattan who has led the agency since 2007.

She declined further comment.In a telephone interview Thursday night with the Gannett Albany Bureau, Grannis said he was contacted Wednesday by Paterson's top deputy, Lawrence Schwartz, and was asked for his resignation because the memo became public.

But Grannis said he decided Thursday that he would not resign and said he didn't release the memo to the media, which reported on its details this week. He was then fired.

(Click to read the entire article)

The DEC Dithers

State regulators are still pondering whether to require a formal environmental impact statement for a year-old plan to store liquid propane and butane in the salt caverns north of Watkins Glen. In his latest column on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, Burdett journalist Peter Mantius looks into the regulatory delay.

A full year after a Kansas City-based company announced plans to store millions of gallons of liquid propane and butane in the salt caverns just north of Watkins Glen, state regulators still haven’t decided whether to order an environmental impact statement for the project.

Their hesitation is puzzling.

After all, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has been conducting formal environmental impact statements this year for a subdivision in Genesee, a waste disposal facility in Varick, a church mega-complex in Brighton, a quarry, a technology park and a couple of wind power projects. This list goes on.

So what’s taking DEC officials so long to order an EIS for the ambitious $191-million project proposed at the old US Salt plant?

(Click to read the entire article)

"We need to do a better job of transmission. We need to get the power from upstate New York, from Western New York, low-cost power from Canada down to the metropolitan area of New York City. That's basically a challenge of transmission lines." - Andrew Cuomo, Hofstra/Newsday Gubernatorial Debate, October 18, 2010.

Andrew Cuomo is dead wrong on the issue of using upstate New York as a thoroughfare to transmit power to New York City. The residents of upstate recently fought and won a three year battle against New York Regional Interconnect's (NYRI) $2.1 billion plan to construct dangerous transmission lines that will destroy the environment, harm the local economy and potentially cause health and safety risks. (

Andrew Cuomo wants to breathe life back into the dead NYRI proposal and will surely support other similar plans to mar the beautiful upstate scenery with massive transmission towers. He also made it clear last night that he'll likely support further theft of upstate power allotments just to feed the lights of Manhattan. Andrew Cuomo's comment proves that he has no knowledge or respect for the values of upstate New Yorkers and will cater to the special interest and New York City power base.

Andrew Cuomo didn't misspeak. Twice. This is why he won't come out of his hole to speak to the voters in an unfiltered, uncontrolled format - because he doesn't understand the issues and he makes serious mistakes.

If Monday's gubernatorial debate is any indication, natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing in New York should be one of the major issues confronting the state's next top executive.

All seven candidates for the office addressed the issue at the debate at Hofstra University on Long Island, prompting a wide variety of positions that ranged from banning hydrofracking entirely to drill, baby, drill.

"It was obvious to anybody watching that natural gas drilling and shale drilling is going to be one of the premiere issues that the next governor takes on," said Katherine Nadaeu, water and natural resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

Republican candidate Carl Paladino repeated his call for immediate natural gas drilling outside of the New York City watershed, while Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo said he would be supportive of drilling as long as hydrofracking -- a drilling technique -- is proven safe first.

(Click to read the entire article)

In 30 years of appraising, studying and consulting on all types of real estate and development projects, I have never seen the effects, impacts and reactions of the magnitude or severity that turbine neighbors and their property rights are subjected to. Short of a nuclear reactor meltdown (e.g., Chernobyl), nothing has caused so many people to experience the physical and health-driven need to relocate. It is amazing that industry and government both are doing absolutely nothing to address this trend, and correct it before it is too late for even more residents.

If this continues unchecked, I predict a series of rural “ghettos”—of abandoned, unmaintained homes, and an economically disadvantaged class of people finding these devalued homes to be the only place they can afford. Great places to hide illegal operations—few neighbors, cheap structures and the ability to vacate in a hurry if the heat gets turned up—much like the old buildings in poor neighborhoods in the cities. Who else is going to want them?

Wind companies should be required to offer buy-outs at market value (pre-project value) within 2 miles of projects, and certainly within the massive footprints. In this manner they can prove they are not destroying value by reselling for the same price. However, in each instance I know of when a wind developer did indeed buy and resell a neighboring home, they re-sold for 60% to 80% below their purchase price.

Contrary to some popular opinion, Marcellus Shale gas drilling isn't inevitable in New York state.

That's the message of Residents Opposed to Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction (ROUSE), an organization started last spring to connect neighbors and landowners in Tompkins County who don't want to lease their land to gas drilling companies, fearing over-industrialization and pollution of the county.

If the state allows hydraulic fracturing for Marcellus gas to proceed and landowners sign leases, Bill Podulka, an organizer of the group and a landowner in the Town of Caroline, imagines Tompkins County becoming a place where farms are replaced by parking lots filled with tractor-trailers, where gas wells dot the landscape, and where drilling accidents spoil underground aquifers, ruining the wells of rural residents.

Podulka said he and other members of ROUSE are attempting to educate the "silent majority" of residents that drilling is not a foregone conclusion.

(Click to read to entire article)

Based on the report of over 1400 contamination complaints from approximately 1000 horizontal hydrofracking wells for natural gas in Pennsylvania, the Keuka Lake Association (KLA) has requested the New York Governor’s Office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ban all horizontal hydrofracking for natural gas in the Keuka and Finger Lakes watersheds.

A statement released by the KLA recently spells out the conditions that need to be met before the process could be considered for the Finger Lakes watersheds:

1. The causes of these complaints are scientifically understood and remedies are both developed and required.

2. The requirement for all flowback waste from hydrofracking is rendered safe for surface discharge by a licensed and certified waste treatment facility.

(Click to read the entire article)

A preliminary study by researchers with the Academy of Natural Sciences asserts that rivers and streams could be at risk of pollution because of a boom in drilling on the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation, even without spills or accidents.

Researchers at the academy, the nation's oldest natural-science research center and a leading expert in stream biology, compared watersheds where there was little or no drilling to those watersheds where there was drilling and found significant changes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

The study has not been peer-reviewed or published in any scientific journal.

The study found that water conductivity, a barometer of contamination by salts that are found in drilling wastewater, was nearly twice as high in streams nearby high-density drilling.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York State Electric & Gas has announced a program that will provide retroactive rebates for consumers who have purchased a high-efficiency natural gas heating system between April 1st and October 1st of 2010. Consumers who enroll in the program will receive up to $340 depending on the efficiency rating of the unit. Bob Auchinachie, President of Auchinachie Plumbing, Heating and Air-Conditioning, a Binghamton area business says the rebates are a sort of reward for consumers who made the effort to make their homes more energy efficient. “It’s a great program that creates an incentive for people to buy better, more efficient equipment that will ultimately save them energy costs down the road. We’re letting our eligible customers know about the rebates--we’re even processing their information to get their checks to them”.

In addition to the retroactive rebates, NYSEG has announced a similar program for customers who purchase high-efficiency heating equipment in the near future. The program began on October 1st, 2010 and funds available for the program will be limited. The program will end when the funds are expended.

Participating in the debates, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and this newspaper, were Tompkins County Legislator Pam Mackesey and Assemblyman Tom O'Mara, R-137th District, who are running to fill the 53rd State Senate District seat, and other Tompkins County-area candidates.

On the issue of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, Mackesey said the security of other state industries, such as food production, tourism and education, must be safeguarded against any negative effects, and she supports a moratorium on drilling.

O'Mara said he shares concerns about the importance of protecting the environment against negative effects.

"This is one of the biggest issues we're facing right now," O'Mara said.

"I'm a supporter of hopefully moving forward with the gas industry in New York state. It's a huge economic concern. I do share the concerns with moving forward cautiously, with concern for the environment, but it must be based on the science. This cannot continue to be a political football thrown back and forth."

Spanish electricity company Iberdrola SA (IBE.MC) will make renewable energy investments in the U.S. until 2012 as planned, provided there are "positive changes" in U.S. renewable energy legislation, Chairman Ignacio Galan said Tuesday.

"If there are positive changes, we'll continue at the same rhythm (of investments), if there aren't positive changes, we won't do that," Galan told Dow Jones Newswires after an energy event.

A comprehensive climate change and energy bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year, but died in the Senate. Subsequently, a bill introduced by several U.S. senators last month aims to establish mandatory percentages of renewable electricity generation as part of utilities' overall power output, but it is still unclear whether the bill will pass.

Iberdrola's hints at possibly cutting its U.S. investments in the absence of policies to foster renewables come after other top renewable energy investors have already announced cuts.

(Click to read the entire article)

BINGHAMTON -- For the second time in as many months, The Forum will play host to a lengthy public hearing related to the ongoing natural gas drilling debate

This time, the topic at hand will be whether Broome County should lead a state-mandated environmental review if the county decides to sign a mineral rights lease deal, as it is currently considering.

The hearing will take place on Oct. 14, and will be comprised of two sessions: 2 to 4 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Signing a lease for county land is subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which determines whether or not an action would have a significant environmental impact. An involved entity must lead and fund the SEQRA process, and the County Legislature will consider a resolution that would declare itself the lead agency.

(Click to read the entire article)

Actor Mark Ruffalo, Upstate neighbor and friend will be on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC Monday October 4th at 9PM. Mark has been our voice, getting out the critical message about the dangers of Hydrofracking for Natural Gas and it's threat to our precious farmland, and the threat it can pose to the drinking water of 15 million people, who depend on the Watershed for their supply.

Mark will bring to light the plight of our Family farms and how this correlates to the Gas drilling nightmare that threatens us all.

Please pass this on to all your friends and family. The Gas industry with their $$$$ and their hold on many of our legislators has kept their practice of poisoning water supplies under the radar for a long time.

More than the drinking water has become poisonous in Susquehanna County.

In a sharp rebuke of one of the state's biggest Marcellus Shale gas drillers, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday ordered an $11.8 million pipeline built to deliver water to 18 rural residences in Dimock Township whose household wells are contaminated by natural gas.

In response, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the Texas driller whose wells the state blames for the pollution, denounced the decision as "unfounded, irrational, and capricious" and accused DEP Secretary John Hanger of "obvious political pandering."

The atmosphere in Susquehanna County, which borders New York state north of Scranton, has become so polarized that Cabot crews now travel with uniformed escorts after an enraged Dimock resident drew a handgun on an employee.

(Click to read the entire article)

The MSC’s “Commitment to the Community” Guiding Principles are as follows:
-- We, the members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, embrace and operate by the following guiding principles:
-- We provide the safest possible workplace for our employees, with our contractors, and in the communities in which we operate;
-- We implement state-of-the-art environmental protection across our operations;
-- We continuously improve our practices and seek transparency in our operations;
-- We strive to attract and retain a talented and engaged local workforce;
-- We are committed to being responsible members of the communities in which we work;
-- We encourage spirited public dialogue and fact-based education about responsible shale gas development; and
-- We conduct our business in a manner that will provide sustainable and broad-based economic and energy-security benefits for all.
-- We recognize that to succeed in business, we not only embrace these principles, we live by them each and every day. This will be our legacy.

(Click to read the entire article)

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) on Sept. 21 introduced bipartisan legislation to create the first-ever national renewable electricity standard (RES).

Under the proposal, electric utilities would be required to produce at least 11 percent of their power from wind, solar, biomass and other renewable sources of energy; the remaining 4 percent could be achieved through energy efficiency improvements. The total of 15 percent would have to be met by 2021.

States hat have a higher RESs would not be affected by the bill. But states that have no RES or a lower one would have to comply with the 15 percent RES. Utilities selling less than 4 million MW-hr per year are exempt.

The bill has 24 sponsors, from both parties, many from states in the U.S. Midwest where many wind farms are being located.

(Click to read the entire announcement)

September 28, 2010

Senator Jeff Bingham +1 (202) 224-2852 Senator John Ensign +1 (202) 228-3364
Senator Byron Dorgan +1 (202) 224-1193 Senator Tom Udall +1 (202) 228-3261
Senator Sam Brownback +1 (202) 228-1265 Senator Mark Udall +1 (202) 224-6471
Senator Susan Collins +1 (202) 224-2693 Email to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand


Honorable Senators Sponsoring and Supporting the RES Bill,

We kindly ask you to OPPOSE the RES Bill, as it will continue to deprive our nation of jobs, money and development of reliable energy sources. The continued waste of taxpayer money on subsidies for backup power programs such as wind energy are wasteful and debilitating for reliable energy generation that continue to fuel our economy such as coal and nuclear.

It has been widely reported that in Europe jobs are actually lost through highly subsidized green energy programs, as well as tax base due to property value depreciation. In addition the Bentek study clearly shows that CO2 has risen in Colorado and Texas through their development of intermittent energy sources tied to their grids, such as wind energy.

Please cease support of your bill, and plan to invest this taxpayer money into actual infrastructure that will benefit our nation. The continued support of unions, foreign manufacturing, foreign energy companies and speculative investors, all hiding behind “green energy” is highly disturbing. Each of you are at a cross-road, one that will sink or shape America. We hope your patriotic sense prevails and you stop this bleeding; OPPOSE RES -- invest in America.

Robert E. Aliasso, Jr. Co-Chair
The Coalition for the Preservation of the Golden Crescent and 1000 Islands Region

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- A group of Luzerne County natural gas drilling activists filed a lawsuit Monday against Pennsylvania's head of Homeland Security after a set of leaked anti-terrorism bulletins showed the department was tracking and gathering information on peaceful drilling protesters.

The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition sued James Powers Jr., director of the state's Office of Homeland Security, in federal court in Scranton, and will seek legal fees and $103,000 in damages -- the amount the state paid the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response to develop the documents.

By including the coalition and other drilling activists in the bulletins that tracked potential terrorist activity and security concerns, the state violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the group said in its lawsuit. The bulletins were distributed mostly to law enforcement officials.

"Even after the government knew that the individuals were simply exercising their First Amendment rights, they put them in a report anyway," said Paul Rossi, the group's attorney. "That has to stop. At a minimum, there has to be a line that cannot be crossed by government. If they can cross that line, then government can be used as a tool against any kind of First Amendment speech going forward."

(Click to read the entire article)

Now, about that rate hike

New Yorkers ought to be looking forward to a hearing regarding National Grid's request for a $396 million rate increase later this fall with an eagerness that matches the dread with which they might open their utility bills come winter.

The increase in electric rates that the British-based company is seeking isn't such a routine matter anymore, not since news got out about how it was trying to pass on millions of dollars in ostentatious spending and questionable expenses to its upstate New York customers.

Things like political junkets for National Grid executives, overseas shipments of their wine collections and private school tuition for their children already are the subject of an investigation by the state Public Service Commission as it weighs whether to grant the rate increase. That's arduous work, done in the background, perhaps by outside consultants and auditors.

The affairs of the company that many New Yorkers have no choice but to rely on for electricity and natural gas service deserves a more public scrutiny as well. It's true that National Grid has withdrawn $4 million in expenses from its proposal for a rate increase. But it also is fair to wonder if the company's request might be further modified. The PSC, after all, says the dubious spending by National Grid comes to more like $26 million.

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Schumer to meet utility executives

Two of National Grid's top U.S. executives will get a chance to state their case to one of the utility's most outspoken critics as it is mired in an accounting and expense account scandal.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is scheduled to meet Friday in New York City with Tom King, the president of National Grid's U.S. operations, and Marcy Reed, the head of U.S. public affairs for the British utility company.

The previously scheduled meeting comes as Schumer and other political leaders in New York have been blasting the London-based business for including millions of dollars of apparently frivolous spending as part of its $400 million electric rate increase request for upstate New York.

National Grid has since slashed $4 million from the rate plan that had been charged to expenses by company executives, such as private school tuition for their children, gifts for people outside the company and even toilet repairs at their homes.

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First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Q3 2010 results on November 18, 2010. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on August 27, 2010).

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Q3 2010 results on November 18, 2010. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on August 27, 2010).
First Wind Energy LLC Presents at Platts 12th Annual Financing US Power, Oct-29-2010 08:45 AM

First Wind Energy LLC Presents at Platts 12th Annual Financing US Power, Oct-29-2010 08:45 AM. Venue: Marriott New York Marquis, 1535 Broadway, New York, NY 10036, United States. Speakers: Paul J. Gaynor, Chief Executive Officer and Director.

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Fiscal Year 2010 results on March 26, 2011. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on June 27, 2010).

First Wind Energy LLC expected to report Fiscal Year 2010 results on March 26, 2011. This event was calculated by Capital IQ (Created on June 27, 2010).

State and federal elected representatives are now weighing in on a $400 million rate hike request by National Grid amid questionable expenses.

The utility giant, which serves some 1.5 million electric customers in Upstate New York, is being probed by the state Public Service Commission for millions of dollars in expenses, including private-school tuition, shipping charges on wine and parties.

It was announced Tuesday that the New York State Senate will hold a hearing on the matter on Oct. 19, said Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, who chairs the state Senate’s Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

“How can we even contemplate approving rate hikes when this cloud is hanging over the whole process,” said Maziarz in a statement.

Also, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants National Grid to withdraw its rate hike request until the matter is resolved.

A streamlining of New York's complicated tariff system approved on Thursday could also help the two power and gas companies Iberdrola operates there to improve their credit ratings, the company added in a presentation.

"The net amount to be received by Iberdrola from the regulatory changes should be $175 million over the next three years," an Iberdrola spokesman said.

Electricity companies operating in New York State filed a joint proposal to adjust electricity rates in July, which was approved by the state's Public Services Commission on September 16.

"All in all this appears a positive outcome to us. By 2013 the decision could imply a (group) EBITDA uplift of nearly 2 percent compared to consensus estimates," UBS said in a research note to clients.

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Thirteen families in the heart of the gas–rich Marcellus Shale say their water wells have been contaminated by poisonous fluids blasted deep underground by a drilling company using a technique at the center of a fierce nationwide debate.

A faulty gas well drilled by Houston–based Southwestern Energy Co. leaked toxic fracking fluid into local groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County, exposing residents to dangerous chemicals and sickening a child, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The lawsuit — one of the first in the nation to link hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tainted groundwater — said the well's cement casing was defective. It also cites spills of industrial waste, diesel fuel and other hazardous substances.

"The fracking fluid leaked into the aquifer and contaminated wells within several thousand feet, if not more," said plaintiffs' attorney Peter Cambs of Port Washington, N.Y.

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The investigation will focus on how the British company accounts and allocates expenses between its different businesses in the US, according to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), which regulates utilities in the state. The regulator's decision follows the discovery of $26m (£16.6m) of expenses that it described as questionable during the PSC's examination of National Grid's controversial plan to raise electricity prices by a total of $369m next year.

National Grid insists that the increase, and a $106m rise sought in nearby Massachusetts, are needed to invest and improve the infrastructure and distribution network in the north-east of the country. But with Congressional elections in less than two months and a stumbling economic recovery, National Grid's expenses have sparked anger among the public and politicians.

New York regulators could potentially force National Grid to pay money to its more than 3m residential and business customers in the north of the state if it is found to have misallocated expenses. National Grid has already withdrawn $4m of expenses and says it will fully co-operate with the investigation.

Having first expanded into the US in 2000, National Grid is facing particular scrutiny at the moment. Alongside its examination of the planned rate rise, regulators in New York's state capital of Albany are also conducting a review of the company's operations – something it undertakes for each utility it regulates every five years.

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NYSEG rate hike approved

More than 60,000 utility customers in the Albany, New York, area will soon see larger bills following a vote by the state Public Service Commission on Thursday.

The commission approved a plan by New York State Electric & Gas Corp., or NYSEG, to increase electric and gas delivery rates. The increases will take effect Sept. 25.

Under the plan, NYSEG will boost electric delivery rates by 2.5 percent in the first year (September 2010 through September 2011). Rates will rise an additional 4.2 percent in the second year, and by 4.3 percent in the third year.

In all, the rate increases will bring in an extra $104.2 million for NYSEG, which has roughly 63,000 Capital Region customers and 1.7 million customers in all of upstate.

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Speaker after speaker stepped up over 16 hours to sound off to an EPA panel of researchers on how they think the agency should proceed with its hydraulic fracturing study, or to vent -- sometimes loudly -- about where they stand on the drilling technique.

"We have heard from many people at these hearings who have not and will not learn the science of drilling or hydrofracking," said Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and an ardent drilling supporter. "Many of them are just ill-informed and will believe anything they are told."

Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter member Jurgen Wekerle said the concern about fracking is simple.

"Everything we need to know about hydrofracking we learned in kindergarten: oil, gas and water do not mix," he said.

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No hydrofracking for now

erhaps we will genuinely need Marcellus gas some day, and the only way to get it is hyrofracking. Peak gas arrives earlier than predicted, and the price skyrockets. The green transition not yet complete. That day may come, but it's not on the horizon.

The longer we wait, the more likely new, safer technologies for hard to recover gas will permit us to bypass it. Compressed air or some other benign alternative may one day replace the huge water consumption and toxic chemical use currently essential to fracking.

Waiting to develop the Marcellus shale with safer technology will also virtually guarantee increased royalties for landowners with leases, profits for gas companies, and tax revenues for governments. That's because it's a sure bet prices will rise sharply sooner than we're ready for. Avoiding fracking also saves water supplies, protects water quality, and hedges against the certainties of an uncertain future.

If hydrofracking is the only option for Marcellus gas, the wisest course is to wait, baby, wait.

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They beat on bongos and shook tambourines as they danced to their own song. Decorations could be seen from down the block.

It wasn't a party, but an anti-drilling rally outside The Forum before and during parts of Monday's EPA meeting.

Their song? "No Fracking Way," which began as a chant but, as the day continued, morphed into a rhythmic melody echoing down Washington Street.

Their props? A mock drilling rig adorned with a roulette wheel offering the two chances of gas or water, a skull and hazard signs. There were costumes, too, like the man clad in a HAZMAT suit and gas mask. Oh, and there was Frackin'stein.

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For the first time since talk of taxing the methane beneath Pennsylvania bubbled up two years ago, the Republican-led Senate appears ready to join Gov. Ed Rendell and the House's Democratic majority in ending the state's status as the largest natural-gas producing state without such a tax.

Still, there will still be room for wide disagreement in a debate that is set to intensify when the House and Senate return to Harrisburg this month.

Lawmakers may also sort through a number of issues surrounding the modern-day gas rush to tap the Marcellus Shale formation beneath the commonwealth. But the tax is unquestionably the centerpiece of the debate, particularly with the cash-strapped state looking for help.

The Democratic governor set the table in February 2009 when he first proposed a tax equivalent to West Virginia's - 5 percent on the sale value, plus 4.7 cents per thousand cubic feet of gas. At that rate, Pennsylvania would land somewhere in the middle of the various tax rates imposed by natural gas-producing states, although industry representatives say it would be the highest among the states with gas-yielding shale formations.

Such a tax is projected to raise $280 million in 2011, the Rendell administration said.

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EPA hearing to attract hundreds

BINGHAMTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's two-day hearing on its study of the hydraulic fracturing process is finally coming to the area this week, but it will be just as much a test in time management as it is an opportunity for the public to speak its mind.

Four-hundred people will have the opportunity to speak to a panel of EPA researchers during the Monday and Wednesday sessions at The Forum in Binghamton. A couple of thousand more are predicted to attend, with landowners, environmentalists and industry representatives expected to have a large presence both inside and out of the venue.

The speakers will have to be quick; each one is limited to just two minutes.

"Honestly, the two minutes is a bit of a shock, especially when they have a digital clock up front and it's counting down as you're speaking," said Earthworks Marcellus Regional Organizer Nadia Steinzor, who spoke at the EPA's previous meeting on the study in Canonsburg, Pa. "It's a bit unnerving."

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