Wineries, breweries, farmers and environmentalists in the Finger Lakes are planning a concert this weekend to persuade music fans to oppose planned energy industry expansion in the region.

Ten bands will play on two stages at the Seneca Lake Big Splash concert, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Hector Fairgrounds on state Route 414.

Organizers hope that speakers between the bands will increase opposition to plans for hydraulic fracturing for natural gas throughout the region and underground storage of liquefied petroleum gas in the Town of Reading.

"We've already got this sustainable cash cow in the wine industry, and now the gas industry is trying to invade and will definitely ruin the wine industry," said Jon McNamara, executive director of the Finger Lakes CleanWaters Initiative, which is presenting the concert.

(Click to read the entire article)

Researchers say earlier studies overestimated the economic impact of Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania.

The study released Monday by the Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center found the burgeoning natural gas industry created about 23,500 jobs in the state in 2009.

A previous study suggested drilling was responsible for 20,000 more jobs, but the authors of the latest analysis say those figures failed to consider some mitigating factors.

The new study estimates about half the land where drilling took place in 2009 was owned by people or companies based elsewhere in Pennsylvania or out of state. The authors say that means much of the economic benefit from leases wasn’t spent locally.

The Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center is a partnership between the Pennsylvania College of Technology and the Penn State Extension.


A call from the producer from the Hannity Radio show requested a spokesperson. Listen to John's great representation on the issue that in on the national broadcast.

Don't miss this one.

Q: How well does the public utilities system serve New York?

GB: Quite well. Around the nation, the New York Public Service Commission is recognized as a national leader in both policies and capabilities in terms of regulating public utilities. We literally get hundreds of thousands of calls per year. The way the law works, utilities come in for rate filings and we have eleven months to review them, or they get what they ask for. Since 2007 our review processes reduced electric and natural-gas bills by more than $3 billion from what the utilities asked for, without compromising in any way the reliability of the system.

Q: Do consumers have adequate access to the Public Service Commission?

GB: During the rate case, it’s very important to us to go out and do public hearings in the area where the rates will be impacted. We do numerous public hearings a year where any member of the public can come in and speak to an administrative law judge and be on the record. We’re also very proud of our online availability of data—probably more than any human being could ever want. We’ve got every item in every case, unless it’s confidential. Literally hundreds of thousands of people a year hit that website to get that sort of information on what’s going on in our various proceedings through the state.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Energy Department said it will reduce its estimate of undiscovered natural gas in New York, Pennsylvania and other states following a report by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS report, released Tuesday, estimates that the eight-state Marcellus Shale region contains some 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, recoverable natural gas. That amount is far higher than the geological service had estimated in a 2002 report, but far below a recent projection by the Energy Department.

The conflicting reports prompted confusion and finger pointing amid growing questions about the extent of natural gas reserves available in the Marcellus region, which is in the midst of a drilling boom stretching from New York to West Virginia. Accurate estimates are important for drillers and regulators alike as the government increasingly examines the risks of natural gas. Improved geologic information and new drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing, have opened up vast fields of previously out-of-reach supplies.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will release its latest draft hydrofracking report on Wednesday, and the length of the public comment period on the document will be announced that day as well, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said today.

The department had released a 1,000-page draft in July, but a comment period was put on hold until an outside consultant’s report on the community and socioeconomic impacts of hydrofracking was incorporated into the DEC review.

Yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he hasn’t seen an “adequate reason” to extend the scheduled 60-day comment period, which would start after the DEC report is released next week.

Conservation groups had called on the governor and Martens to extend the period to 180 days. Martens had initially said he was inclined to stick with 60 days because most of the report has been available since July, and said today that a final decision would come Wednesday.

“We’re considering all of the comments we’ve gotten about extending it or shortening it,” Martens said. “And we’re busy now about getting the document out as we said we would on Aug. 31.”

Gas drillers’ movie

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York has released the first video in a series designed to educate New Yorkers about the economic and environmental benefits of increased natural gas development in upstate regions, including the Southern Tier.

The 30-second preview released today is available on IOGA’s Facebook page (, and is part of a series that will be released in the coming weeks.

“It is IOGA of NY’s educational and ethical obligation to communicate with the public, other stakeholders and elected officials by offering fact-based informational materials and presentations,” said Brad Gill, IOGA of NY’s executive director. “‘Fuel for Thought’ is one way we can continue to do that and, at the same time, highlight the great benefits that increased natural gas development will have on New York, its residents and communities.

The segment released today features John Conrad, a senior hydrogeologist and president of Poughkeepsie-based Conrad Geoscience Corp., and Dennis Holbrook, executive vice president of Norse Energy, with offices in Buffalo. Both are IOGA of NY members.

As mentioned earlier, Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, is hosting a hearing in Katonah on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

The natural gas industry has declined to participate, but the hearing has continued with conservation groups and others who have been critical of the hydrofracking technique.

A live video of the hearing, which started at 9:30 a.m., is below:

Plans to develop the world's largest offshore wind turbine, the 10-megawatt (MW) Britannia, have been shelved by Clipper Windpower plc (LSE:CWP) (London, England).

The giant turbine would have had a generating capacity of almost twice that of current offshore turbine technology and was the subject of a major deal with the U.K.'s Crown Estate back in 2008.

A potential threat to the Eskdalemuir station’s seismic detection abilities, however, are wind turbines. Whirring on the region’s moors, the large turbines send clean electricity to homes but also send vibrations into the ground.

On Friday, Carlisle Council rejected REG Windpower’s proposal for six turbines at a location about 25 miles away from the station. The Hallburn wind farm was also facing local fights over potential lost tourism revenue and noise pollution. But the matter is larger than this relatively small wind project.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) established a noise allowance for the region, which they say has been met. According to the MOD, additional wind farms would interfere with the performance of the station’s seismological array. As of now, no turbine with a generating capacity of more than 50 kilowatts is permitted within 31 miles of Eskdalemuir. The company told The Guardian that the MoD’s objections concerning turbine vibrations were blocking as much as one gigawatt of wind generating potential.

Currently across Scotland, the onshore wind industry, according to Scottish Renewables, stands at 2,500 megawatts of installed capacity. Yet growing that capacity in this corner of the Southern Uplands isn’t entirely off the table.

(Click to read the entire article)

Obama's Biofuels Insanity

Barack Obama’s biofuels insanity continues. And it continues without any regard for history, basic arithmetic, or the recent spike in food prices. Last month, the Farm Foundation a centrist non-profit group based in Illinois, released a study which named biofuels as one of the key factors that is driving up grain prices. That study, done by three agricultural economists from Purdue University, is the seventeenth report that has exposed the link between increasing biofuel production and higher food prices.

And yet – and yet -- on Tuesday, the White House put out a press release announcing that the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Navy will “invest up to $510 million during the next three years” to develop “advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.”

The Obama administration’s mindless devotion to biofuels beggars basic arithmetic, a point that Energy Secretary Steve Chu refused to acknowledge when I spoke with him briefly during a cocktail party in Colorado in late June. Chu claimed that biofuels could still provide a significant hedge against oil prices. When I argued that he had done the math, Chu responded by telling me that I just wasn’t putting enough faith in technology.

I’m not doubtful about the ability of technology to improve our lives, but I am certain that neither Obama nor Chu are able to change the laws of physics. The problem with biofuels -- of whatever type -- is their pitifully low power density, that is the amount of energy flow that can be harnessed from given unit of area, volume, or mass. Even the best-managed tree plantations can achieve power densities of only about one watt per square meter. For comparison, a marginal natural-gas well has a power density of about 28 watts per square meter.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sent subpoenas to three energy companies as part of an inquiry into whether they gave investors an accurate picture of the profitability of their natural gas wells, a person briefed on the investigation said Thursday.

The person confirmed that Schneiderman wants documents related to claims the companies made about drilling costs and long-term productivity of their shale gas wells.

Subpoenas were sent to Range Resources, Goodrich Petroleum and Cabot Oil and Gas. Schneiderman also asked Chesapeake Energy to respond to similar questions. New York's pension fund has more than $45 million invested in the four companies, which are active in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale region underlying New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

A spokeswoman for Schneiderman declined to comment. The companies didn't immediately return calls seeking comment. The investigation was first reported by The New York Times.

The person briefed on the investigation said the subpoenas were sent in response to documents made public in a series of Times articles in which industry insiders questioned whether companies were misleading investors about how much gas their wells will produce and how much it will cost to extract it.

(Click to read the entire article)

Steuben Rural Electric Cooperative

Wind isn’t just unequal in terms of reliability; windmills actually cause more air pollution than coal plants operating as designed. Texas is a nasty reminder of this. Along with other facilities, state utilities often depend on two coal-fired plants to “balance” the wind power, which means they fill in when the wind stops and must continue to “spin” when the wind blows. They still must burn coal to prevent the windmills from crashing the electrical grid when the wind drops, so they can instantly fill in electricity when needed.

This goes on all across the nation. As a result, Texas and other states subsidize and mandate more pollution at higher costs in taxes and electricity rates, all because political rulers have placed a climate-change belief system ahead of good science, with disregard for electricity customers and taxpayers who are least able to pay for more expensive renewables. A 2008 report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation estimated that the Lone State State’s wind industry would benefit from more than $28 billion in federal and state subsidies by the year 2025.

Because dirty, costly wind energy is masquerading as an essential element in “all of the above” as outcomes, the Republican candidates who cite it stray from conservative limited-government principles and instead adopt a coercive policy when it comes to energy. In effect, the “all of the abovers” tacitly support the climate-change “solution” agenda without acknowledging that there’s a problem in the first place.

The presidential candidates who want the support of fiscally conservative, sensible environmentalists should put sound science and free-market principles ahead of compulsion and subvention, and therefore should promote the options for the most economical energy available, without subsidies and mandates.

(Click to read the entire article)

State lawmakers joined a bevy of conservation and anti-drilling groups Monday to call on the state to triple the length of a comment period on its latest review of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, D-Suffolk County, were among a handful of lawmakers to request a 180-day comment period and a series of public hearings across the state. The two chair the Legislature's environmental conservation committees.

As it stands, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is now preparing for a 60-day comment period to begin later this month and hasn't made a final decision on any hearings.

"New York state would be foolish to rush into permitting hydraulic fracturing for natural gas," Sweeney said. "Technical experts and average New Yorkers need time to evaluate the state's proposal ... to make sure that if drilling moves forward, we are not compromising our communities, our environment or our long-term sustainability."

(Click to read the entire article)

Energy Companies Need a No Subsidies Plan B. The debt deal did not cut renewable energy subsidies but it set up a super committee of Congress that must produce $1.3 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving 2011. This sets up a ruthless competition between all the special interest causes that now get subsidies or tax supported benefits. Mothers and grandmothers will be sacrificed by the lobbyists on K Street to keep their subsidies—the only question is who’s.

EIA Study of Energy Subsidies

Last November, 2010 several members of Congress asked US Energy Information Service to update the study of direct Federal support and subsidies for energy done in 2008. But the Members of Congress requesting the update directed that the study include only energy-specific benefits with measurable budget impact. That updated study found that direct Federal intervention and subsidies for energy have doubled from 2007 to 2010 from $17.9 billion to $37.2 billion.

But the political game played by that narrow definition was to exclude oil and gas tax benefits the President has sought unsuccessfully to cut in the debt deal. In May 2011, Congress rejected Democrat proposals to cut $21 billion in oil and gas industry subsidies. Crying foul, Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request with EIA demanding an update of the subsidies for oil and natural gas that had been excluded from the updated 2010 report.

(Click to read the entire article)

Proposed Hydrofracking Law

State comptroller Tom Dinapoli has come up with a program that he would like to see passed into law, which would affect hydrofracking projects.

Comptroller Dinapoli wants the state to have a plan ready that would make cleanups happen faster if there was a natural gas drilling problem. The plan that would give the D.E.C. the power to take over drilling sites for immediate cleanup if there was a problem, require companies involved with hydrofracking to put up bonds to make sure cleanup was taken care of, and other safety measures, in case there was a hydrofracking accident.

Also, under the Dinapoli plan, if there was a hydrofracking incident, the property owner, as well as the driller, would be held responsible.

Susquehanna County, Pa.'s local governments are not reaping widespread economic benefits -- or incurring significant extra costs -- as a result of Marcellus Shale drilling, according to a Penn State University study released this week.

Researchers collected financial data from 15 municipalities in Susquehanna County and another 26 in Washington County -- a heavily-drilled area in southwest Pennsylvania -- and interviewed local officials as part of the study.

"We did hear from many of the local officials in Susquehanna County who said that they're not seeing additional revenues so far," said Timothy Kelsey, a professor of agricultural economics who worked on the study.

The primary revenue stream for Pennsylvania municipalities is an income tax that only applies to residents.

(Click to read the entire article)

The New York Power Authority spent $160,000 on parties for its workers over two-and-a-half years while providing complimentary AARP memberships to its retirees, an audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office found.

The audit, which was released today, looked at the authority’s discretionary spending, service contracts and borrowing costs between the beginning of 2009 and June 21 of this year, finding all of those areas to be “generally acceptable.”

But DiNapoli’s office questioned whether $340,000 in certain costs “represents the best use of public funds particularly during what are difficult fiscal times for New York State.”

Among the expenses were food bills between $9,100 and $9,500 for annual in-house holiday parties at the Clarence D. Rappleyea Building, the Power Authority’s headquarters in White Plains, Westchester County.

In all, the authority threw 21 holiday parties and picnics for current and retired employees and their guests during the 30-month period, according to the audit.

(Click to read the entire article)

The natural gas industry and business groups are pushing back against a bill proposed Tuesday that would create a company-funded reserve to cover damages from any future gas drilling accidents.

The bill, proposed by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, would allow the state to create the fund by tacking on a surcharge to permit fees for natural gas companies.

The fund would cover the cost of any cleanup from accidents during drilling if the cause of the contamination couldn't be immediately identified, or if the responsible party refused to pay.

The state Attorney General's Office would later determine responsibility and sue for damages, with any money recovered going back into the cleanup fund.

(Click to read the entire article)

Opponents and supporters of Chemung County's efforts to increase the county landfill's waste acceptance limit can both claim some degree of victory in a decision by the state's environmental chief.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens has upheld a decision by an administrative law judge. In a decision dated Aug. 4, Martens said issues concerning Marcellus Shale wastes brought to the landfill from Pennsylvania are irrelevant to the county's application to increase the annual waste limit.

Martens said several issues, however, require additional review regarding operating procedures that govern the disposal of drill cuttings at the landfill.

"We certainly anticipated a favorable outcome," Deputy County Executive Michael Krusen said Monday. "We had no reason to believe otherwise."

The county and its private landfill management company, Casella Waste Management, have applied to the DEC to modify a state permit to increase the maximum waste acceptance limit at the landfill from 120,000 tons per year to 180,000 tons per year.

(Click to read the entire article)

COAX MEDIA RELEASE - August 8, 2011

COAX MEDIA RELEASE - August 8, 2011
(518) 618-2045

COAX MEDIA RELEASE - August 8, 2011
(518) 618-2045

Governor Cuomo Signs Article X
Strips Home Rule from State's Municipalities

On August 4, 2011 Governor Andrew Cuomo stripped away the municipal "Home Rule" rights of the very public that elected him, by signing into law the "Power NY Act." Also known as Article X, this swiftly passed law was prompted by separate bills initially sponsored by Senator George Maziarz (R - 62nd District) and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D - 101st District). The combined bill passed both houses with very little public input, late at night behind closed doors. The public's rights were taken - literally - while they slept. COAX would like to say thank you to our elected officials who did the right thing and voted against Article X trying to preserve Municipal "Home Rule", unfortunately, too many voted yes.

Coalition On Article X (COAX) was formed to preserve and regain our municipal "Home Rule" rights, taken away by New York's Governor, Senators, and Assemblypersons who voted to strip the public of their ability to govern their own towns.

COAX members are appalled that Article X/Power NY Act was signed into law without any discussion from our elected officials to the citizens they were elected to represent. We find these actions to be totally unacceptable. New York State has always prided itself on the fact that it is a "Home Rule" State.

Municipal "Home Rule", although never perfect, was implemented by local officials who actually live, work and raises their families within our home communities. "Home Rule" has been a viable municipal management tool for decades due to the very fact that community decisions were being made by duly-elected, caring and involved residents of the area. In direct contradiction, the "Power NY" Act allows unengaged, and mostly unelected, Albany bureaucrats to enact monumental zoning and planning decisions in New York State's municipalities, to site electrical power plant in any municipality without local approval.

New York State legislators involved in this over-reaching under the auspices of streamlining the siting of energy facilities, are simply interested in - as Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute puts so well - a Power Grab!
COAX promises to tirelessly and continually oppose the power-grab of the elected officials who voted 'yes' for Article X and to engage like-minded citizens to take back our municipal "Home Rule".

The Southern Tier's major natural gas pipeline poses a public safety risk due to defective welds that could lead to a rupture, according to a recent federal report.

The Millennium Pipeline, which runs more than 180 miles from Steuben County to Rockland County, has been under investigation since a leak was detected Jan. 11 near Schneider Road in the Town of Owego.

The New York State Department of Public Service conducted a five-month investigation, and determined that a 1/8-inch leak caused by a faulty weld released 1.3 million cubic feet of natural gas from the pipeline.

There was no ignition, and no injuries or property damage were reported. Repairs were completed Jan. 16.

(Click to read the entire article)

Citizens and existing grassroots groups across New York State have joined together in a Coalition Against Article X (COAX) to protect NYS citizens’ Constitutionally-appointed property rights, threatened by the "Power NY Act,” which was signed into law 8/4/11 by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

As cited in the Alliance for Clean Energy's (ACE) press release on the signing of the "Power NY Act", the Chair of ACE's Board of Directors is the Senior VP for Market Development at Deepwater Wind -- making it clear that ACE is an industrial wind lobbyist group interested in the enormous profit that can currently be reaped, thanks to endless state and federal, taxpayer/ratepayer-funded incentives and subsidies.

COAX members are appalled that Article X was slipped into law without any discussion by our elected officials with the very New York State citizens they were elected to represent. We find this lack of transparency to be totally unacceptable. New York State has always prided itself on the fact that it is a Home Rule State. Citizens can only create the kinds of communities they want to live in 20, 40, & 60 years down the road, if they are authorized and empowered to make decisions for themselves regarding what's best for their communities. To allow NYS representatives, who were elected to protect and serve us, to suddenly strip away Home Rule, thus enabling this immense land grab, is a blatant continuation of a downward spiral of rights removal.

Given the imminent threat Article X poses to New York’s citizens, COAX is deeply interested in, at the very least, having a seat on the seven-person siting board to be created under the newly renamed "Article X" bill. COAX members sincerely hope that this new siting board will cut through the irrational adoption of industrial wind industry “model regulations” which, to date, have been the status quo in New York State as Big Wind LLCs have run roughshod over our rural communities. As the former New York State Attorney General, Governor Cuomo is well-aware of the history of corruption surrounding the industrial wind industry across the State. COAX members look to Governor Cuomo to protect the citizens he was elected to serve.

A professor who researched wind turbines and property values recommends communities think hard about homeowner compensation.

The study is titled “Values in the Wind: A Hedonic Analysis of Wind Power Facilities.” It examines property values near wind farms in Lewis, Clinton and Franklin counties.

“Homeowners who sell leases to developers are, presumably, adequately compensated,” said Dr. Martin D. Heintzelman, a Clarkson University assistant professor of economics and financial studies.

“Nearby homeowners, however, do not generally receive any direct compensation, and it is possible that PILOT payments are not completely making up for losses dealt to this group,” he continued. “So, it may be necessary to develop other schemes which would compensate these affected parties.”

(Click to read the entire article)

A Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman says New York’s new rules for natural gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing have been pushed back to “late summer.”

A 60-day public comment period was supposed to start in early August for the latest draft of DEC’s review of gas exploration techniques used in the Marcellus Shale, a gas-rich formation underlying New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio. Permitting has been on hold in New York since summer 2008 while the review is under way.

The latest delay is to allow DEC to incorporate the findings of a socioeconomic impact study done by Buffalo-based consultant Ecology and Environment.

DEC officials say permits for Marcellus wells won’t be issued until a final version of the review is complete, likely sometime next year.

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