Two Ithaca-area lawmakers have begun inquiries following reports that the gas industry may have underestimated the cost of extracting shale gas from underground formations.

New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, and U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, expressed alarm after reports in The New York Times on Monday revealed that rule changes and oversight problems at the Securities and Exchange Commission may have caused natural gas companies to overestimate their reserves. The Times also detailed the use of data from industry-biased sources and intra-agency disagreements regarding gas reserve estimates at the U.S. Energy Information Agency.

"These reports raise serious questions about the economics behind the shale gas rush," Hinchey said. "Now, it's up to the SEC and the EIA to get to the bottom of these charges and ensure that the public has accurate and honest information about our country's shale gas reserves. EIA has some serious questions to answer and the SEC needs to investigate whether investors have been intentionally misled."

(Click to read the entire article)

Most of the vehicles that filled the parking lot in front of the Campus Center on Ithaca College's campus had one thing in common: bumper stickers.

Many cars had a small black sticker that said FRACK in white letters with a red slash through it.

Another read, "Hydrofracking is immoral: Thou shalt not poison thy neighbor's water and air." One read, "Stop Marcellus Shale. Fracking = poison water."

One blue pick-up truck had two wooden panels attached to each side of the car that read: "Solar and wind power = green jobs now. Say no to gas drilling. Say yes to clean air and water."

(Click to read the entire article)

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Energy Committee Chair Kevin Cahill today announced the passage of legislation to reauthorize and improve the Article X power plant siting law, provide for an on-bill recovery program for Green Jobs-Green New York Customers, and identify strategies to increase solar energy generation in New York.

"The residents and businesses of New York need clean, affordable and reliable electricity sources," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The Power NY Act will allow New York to utilize rapidly advancing technology, encourage cleaner energy generation, and create jobs by attracting high-tech energy companies. With the inclusion of additional environmental justice and community health-related standards, we will help give New Yorkers an increased voice in the development of power plants in their communities."

"This legislation takes bold actions in terms of encouraging new markets for solar energy, enacting a new power plant siting law and providing homeowners and small businesses with access to new energy efficiency opportunities," said Cahill (D-Kingston). "We will finally put in place a process that will encourage the development of cleaner, more efficient environmentally friendly power generation while encouraging greater input and participation from the community. Adding on-bill recovery to our Green Jobs program will remove the financial hurdles that prevent homeowners from investing in common sense money saving energy efficiency improvements."

After the previous power plant siting law expired in 2003, the Assembly committed to protecting host communities and the surrounding environment from the potential harmful effects of new power plants. Under this legislation (A.8510/Cahill), any proposals for the siting of facilities that generate at least 25 megawatts - down from the previous 80-megawatt threshold - would require a detailed analyses of potential health and environmental impacts. Additionally, environmental justice concerns will be reviewed by a newly created siting board, which will include representation of local appointees selected by legislative leaders from a pool of candidates submitted by locally elected officials. To ensure further environmental protections, the legislation directs the Department of Environmental Conservation to promulgate standards to regulate power plant emissions, including carbon dioxide, mercury and sulfur dioxide.

(Click to read the entire press release)

If proposed state legislation is approved today, the siting of wind power projects in the north country will be decided by a committee in Albany, not local planning boards.

State and local wind power proponents have supported Article X in the past, saying that it limits to one year how long the siting approval and permitting process can take. Under local review, projects have lagged for three, four or more years.

Wind power opponents tend to oppose Article X out of suspicion of Albany's renewable energy policies and its push to build wind-power projects.

The Article X provisions will be part of a larger energy policy bill after a three-way agreement among the governor and legislature leaders, making passage likely.

(Click to read the entire article)

Over the past year, five states have begun requiring energy companies to disclose some of the chemicals they pump into the ground to extract oil and gas using the process of hydraulic fracturing.

While state regulators and the drilling industry say the rules should help resolve concerns about the safety of drilling, critics and some toxicologists say the requirements fall short of what’s needed to fully understand the risks to public health and the environment.

The regulations allow companies to keep proprietary chemicals secret from the public and, in some states, from regulators. Though most of the states require companies to report the volume and concentration of different drilling products, no state asks for the amounts of all the ingredients, a gap that some say is disturbing.

“It’s a shell game,” said Theo Colborn, a toxicologist who has testified before Congress about the dangers of drilling chemicals. Colborn and her organization, TEDX, examine the long-term health risks of chemicals and have opposed the expansion of drilling in Colorado and elsewhere. “They’re not telling you everything that there is to know.”

(Click to read the entire article)

October 12, 2011, 2pm Albany. A Tea Party Rally against corporate welfare will be held at 12 noon on the Capitol steps. Stay tuned for details and save the date.

Note: we won in the Appellate Division five to zero.

The name of the case is Bordeleau v. State of New York.

Oral argument will be held at the Court of Appeals, NY’s highest court.

For more information google “pork lawsuit.”

Cohocton Wind Watch is a petitioner in this legal action.

Consumer product companies that want to mark their goods with the new "WindMade" label must source a minimum of 25 percent of their electricity from wind power.

Developers of this first wind certification label hope it will boost company's investment in the industry.

First introduced at the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, the technical standard now enters a two-month public consultation period beginning today and close on August 15.

"The initiative is backed by the wind power industry, and we believe the label will build a bridge between consumers and companies committed to clean energy," says Steve Sawyer, Chairman of the WindMade Board and Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. "We hope to see widespread participation in the public consultation and strongly encourage interested parties to review and comment on the standard."

(Click to read the entire article)

A Senate panel amended and sent to the floor a bill to impose an impact fee on natural-gas drilling in Pennsylvania, as members of both parties cited a desire to square off on the politically explosive topic.

The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee voted 11-0 Tuesday to adopt an amendment by committee Chairwoman Sen. Mary Jo White that would revamp the schedule of fees that would be imposed on the commercial drilling proliferating along the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation in northern and western Pennsylvania.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, the sponsor of the original bill, called White's amendment "a good start." He said debate on the legislation could begin as early as next week, while state budget talks between Republican legislative leaders and GOP Gov. Tom Corbett are expected to intensify in the face of a June 30 deadline.

(Click to read the entire article)

A U.S. Department of Energy hearing on fracking in Pennsylvania is expected to draw numerous supporters and protesters of the practice Monday night.

Members of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board will be at the meeting on the campus of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington from 7-9 p.m. to garner detail, reaction and comments about hydraulic fracking, or fracking, which breaks up the shale and frees natural gas.

An industry trade group, Energy In Depth, said Friday it would help pro-drilling landowners attend by paying their transportation costs while environmental groups have pledged to be on hand to protest what they claim is a pro-industry bias on the board.

The board is part of a national effort to lower U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

(Click to read the entire article)

Some advocacy groups have joined Senate Democrats in calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, rather than an extension of the moratorium set to expire at the end of the month.

The Department of Environmental Conservation will issue a report with recommendations about “hydrofracking” in New York at the end of the moratorium. However, groups such as Food & Water Watch and Frack Action claim there have been enough studies across the country to conclude that the practice “threatens essential resources, poisons people and livestock, and erodes the quality of life in rural America.”

Last week, the Assembly passed an extension on the moratorium through June 1 of next year. Speaker Sheldon Silver said this would allow more time to fully digest the findings of the DEC before drilling permits are issued. The Senate is not expected to act on the legislation.

A public forum on Steuben County’s plan to accept Marcellus Shale cuttings at the county landfill is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the Bath Volunteer Fire Department Hall.

The forum will feature presentations by county Public Works Commissioner Vince Spagnoletti and physicist Marvin Resnikoff, a senior associate at Radioactive Management Associates. A question and answer period will follow the presentations.

“There are well-intentioned arguments on both sides,” said forum moderator Mark Schlechter. “Let’s voice the arguments and let the people decide on the merits.”

County officials now are looking at ways to safely bring in cuttings — or rock and dirt — left from natural gas drilling under way in Pennsylvania. Once the safety procedures are reviewed and accepted by the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee, the landfill will take in the debris. No date has been set for the final review.

(Click to read the entire article)

An environmental group is seeking records from the Department of Energy as part of an effort to uncover the process behind last month's creation of a 7-member panel to review the environmental safety of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial natural gas development technique.

The Environmental Working Group filed a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday seeking all correspondence and communications relating to the creation of the panel, which the group characterized as being stacked with industry representatives and devoid of representation of citizens in communities affected by gas drilling.

"We want to see how the panel was put together," Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel for EWG, told The Huffington Post. "Did the department consider people from other agencies? Did they consider people from communities? Did they get pressure from industry groups?

(click to read the entire article)

Faced with the expected 90-degree plus temperatures and high humidity, the New York Power Authority has activated a program to reduce electricity demand from its New York City governmental customers.

Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer of the authority, said Wednesday the peak reduction initiative, planned for the first time this summer, calls for commitments to lower electricity use at 67 locations during the highest-demand days of the air-conditioning season.

“Today’s electricity-demand reduction event is part of our efforts for ensuring reliability of electricity service during those periods when the power grid is most challenged,” Kessel said. “Summer is when electricity use spikes sharply and the margins between electricity supplies and power demand become tighter.”

Kessel noted that across the state the summer peak demand can increase 80 percent above the average level of electricity use, for the additional consumption of up to 15,000 megawatts.

The peak reduction option can be activated up to 15 weekdays from June 1 to Sept. 30. The reductions are limited from two to six hours, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

I Love My NY Water

Accusing the government of being unable to protect the environment or public health, more than 200 people rallied on Tuesday in the Pennsylvania Capitol for tougher laws -- if not an outright ban -- on natural gas drilling as pressure builds on state lawmakers to approve a levy on the booming industry.

The rally comes on the heels of an announcement by two more Republican lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature that they're sponsoring bills to impose a tax or fee on Marcellus Shale gas extraction.

More than 10 lawmakers have now introduced or said they plan to introduce a measure imposing a tax or fee as drilling crews fan out across large swaths of northern and western Pennsylvania.

(Click to read the entire article)

The New York Assembly’s Democratic leadership is pressing for a one-year moratorium on so-called “hydrofracking” for natural gas to further study the environmental impact of the deep drilling, especially on drinking water.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, says his chamber will vote to postpone issuing state permits for new hydraulic fracturing until June 1, 2012.

Drillers release trapped gas by pumping huge volumes of water, laced with much smaller amounts of chemicals and sand, underground.

Silver says people’s health and welfare must take precedence over industry profits.
A similar bill is pending in the Senate.

(Click to read the entire article)

A recent directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to expand the state's ongoing review of natural-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing drew praise from environmental groups and some lawmakers.

But it was the very last line of that directive that left some of them a bit miffed.

After asking the DEC to visit the site of a Pennsylvania gas well blowout, Cuomo's office ordered that a second draft of the DEC's environmental review to be "completed for issuance by July 1, 2011."

The move enacted a firm deadline for the first time, and it gave the gas industry a glimmer of hope that the process is moving ahead.

Some environmentalists weren't pleased with the new deadline, urging the Cuomo administration not to place any time limits on the nearly 3-year-old review process.

(Click to read the entire article)

NYSERDA to fund new energy projects

The projects are among 17 facilities statewide that will receive payments through the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which aims to boost the percentage of the state’s electricity supply coming from renewable sources to 30 percent by 2015.

The 17 projects will share in a pool of $191 million in state funding, funneled through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. State officials declined to say how much each project will receive, citing competitive reasons, but said the funding will average about $20 per megawatt-hour of production.

The Western New York projects selected to receive funding include:

• Stony Creek Wind Farm in the Town of Orangeville in Wyoming County, which will include up to 59 wind turbines. The project is expected to have an annual output of 284,000 megawatt-hours of electricity, a NYSERDA spokesman said.

• Allegany Wind Farm in Great Valley in Cattaraugus County, which is expected to produce 139,000 megawatthours of electricity a year.

(Click to read the entire article)

A group of House lawmakers Thursday called for the U.S. government to stay out of regulating natural-gas drilling, saying the responsibility ought to be left to state authorities.

The calls, from lawmakers from Pennsylvania and other states where drilling occurs, came as two federal agencies study the safety of a controversial drilling technique used to extract natural gas.

Industry supporters fear the Environmental Protection Agency, which is conducting a long-term study on how gas drilling affects drinking water, will adopt policies or rules that slow U.S. gas production. A production boom in recent years has been followed by growing concerns about the drilling's environmental impact.

The Energy Department also has convened an advisory panel to study drilling safety. The panel held its first meeting this week.

(Click to read the entire article)

The federal government is being sued for allowing natural gas drilling, which involves the potentially harmful "fracking" technique, without conducting a full environmental review. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit yesterday that seeks to compel federal agencies to conduct an environmental review before the regulations authorizing gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin are finalized. Obviously, this goes against the gas industry's motto of "frack first, question later."

The fracking process involves injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water into shale rock, releasing trapped gas. Unfortunately it's not just the gas that gets shaken loose; the water that was injected into the rock eventually resurfaces, and is often polluted with carcinogenic chemicals. "The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so. The welfare of those living near the Delaware River Basin, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who rely on its pure drinking water each day, will not be ignored," Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement. "

The lawsuit comes in the midst of mounting opposition to fracking throughout New York State, and weeks after a well blew out at a Pennsylvania gas drilling site, contaminating local waterways with thousands of gallons of drilling fluids. Schneiderman points out that 58 percent of the land area of New York City's West-of-Hudson watershed is within the Delaware River Basin, and that portion of the watershed provides most of the drinking water used by over nine million New York residents and visitors.

(Click to read the entire article)

Courtesy of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, you can view a copy of his soon-to-be-filed lawsuit against the federal government below.

Schneiderman delivered an ultimatum to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in April, telling them to launch a study within 30 days or face a lawsuit.

The attorney general’s office contends the feds are obligated under law to undertake such a study because several agencies are part of the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is currently constructing rules for natural gas drilling within the river’s watershed.

You can read more about the lawsuit here, and here’s a copy of the complaint…

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