natural gas

Sidney gas drilling moratorium struck down in court

Above: Inge Grafe-Kieklak, plaintiff in a recent lawsuit challenging a Sidney town moratorium on gas drilling, demonstrates at a pro-drilling rally in Albany on Oct. 15, 2012. Grafe-Kieklak's sign, written in her native German, translates: "Gov. Cuomo, you have no right to take our mineral rights!" Photo taken by pro-drilling blogger Andy Leahy of NY Shale Gas Now; reproduced by permission.

A state judge struck down the town of Sidney's recently-passed moratorium on gas drilling last week, ruling that the town failed to follow proper procedure in enacting the law. 

The decision has been hailed by pro-drilling advocates as a victory. But because of its narrow focus, the Sidney case is unlikely to have much impact on the larger legal question of whether towns have authority to regulate gas drilling within their borders -- an issue that is still yet to be heard by the New York State Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.  Read more

Hancock family evacuates after pipeline accident

A family on Hungry Hill in the Delaware County town of Hancock was forced to evacuate their home for the night on Thursday, December 5, after workers building the new Millennium Pipeline natural gas compression station knocked on their door and told them there had been an accident on the site.

The station in Hancock has been under construction since October, and is being built to increase pressure and gas output on the Millennium Pipeline, which stretches across New York State's Southern Tier from Steuben County to Rockland County.

According to Millennium spokesperson Steve Sullivan, workers on the site were connecting another line to the main line when something went awry, forcing the workers to vent millions of gallons of gas from a 10-mile-long stretch of 30-inch pipeline into the atmosphere.

"They needed to vent the gas for safety purposes," Sullivan said. "It was a mechanical issue."

There was no fire at the site, Sullivan said. He said that the family was advised to leave their house for their own safety.  Read more

Letter to the Editor: Support for gas pipelines is based on a false promise

Dear Editor:

Support for the Constitution and Leatherstocking Pipelines is based primarily on the false promise of affordable shale gas. False, since the price of this gas is too volatile to make it a reliable energy source in the future.

With so much drilling, and not much demand, there is now a glut of gas. Because of this, prices sank from over $13 a unit in 2008 to under $2 in 2011. Today the price is about $4. Yet the break even cost of production is over $8. The volatile price of gas will be determined not by local costs but world wide supply and demand.

To maximize profit, gas companies have pressured the US Department of Energy (DOE) into considering the export of liquified gas (LNG) to foreign countries. Twenty export applications have been filed. The DOE secretary commented, "If the government does not allow more exports, companies will not have the economic justification to drill for the gas at all."  Read more

Southern Tier: The new North Pennsylvania?

Currently making the rounds of Change.org: A petition by pro-drilling Southern Tier residents to allow Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben and Tioga Counties to secede from New York State and join Pennsylvania

The signers, frustrated by New York State's long delay in issuing natural gas drilling regulations, are apparently mad as hell, and they're not gonna take it anymore:

The Southern Tier of New York State has been treated as a sacrifice zone by those other New Yorkers who would restrict us from developing our natural gas resources and revitalizing our economy. Those resources are ours and we are entitled to use them to save our farms, our families and our future. We, therefore, as residents of Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben and Tioga Counties, petition the legislature for the rights of Southern Tier counties to secede from the State of New York and join with the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania to be part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Read more

Olive and Andes town boards ban fracking

Photo of New York City's Ashokan Reservoir. Photo by Flickr user dougtone; published under Creative Commons license.

Two towns in New York City's Catskills watershed passed bans on gas drilling on Tuesday: Andes, near the Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County, and Olive, near the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County. Both Andes and Olive had previously passed temporary moratoriums on the practice.

Because of their overlap with the watershed that supplies New York City's drinking water, neither town was likely to see gas drilling, at least in the near future. But both had large citizen movements in support of passing a ban, in case the Department of Environmental Conservation reverses its current stance against drilling within the New York City watershed.  Read more

DEC releases new draft gas drilling regulations

On Thursday afternoon, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation unveiled its latest set of proposed regulations to govern hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The new proposed regulations replace an earlier set of draft regulations, issued September 7, 2011.

The latest move from the DEC extends the agency's timeline for finalizing its hydrofracking regulations for another 90 days. Public comment on the current draft will be accepted from December 12, 2012 through 5pm on January 11, 2013.

North Country Radio reports that there are a pair of studies that also need to be completed before drilling could begin:  Read more

Constitution Pipeline hearing in Oneonta tonight

Tonight's federal scoping hearing for the proposed Constitution Pipeline, slated for 7pm to 10pm at the Foothills Performing Arts Center in Oneonta, is expected to draw a crowd. The hearing was scheduled by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to local demand for a hearing close to Delaware and Otsego County residents who may be affected by the pipeline.

The Daily Star reports that pipeline opponents are mustering for tonight's hearing:

An organizer of a grassroots group battling the proposed Constitution Pipeline said Tuesday that landowners opposed to the natural gas transmission system are expected to turn out en masse tonight for a hearing federal regulators are holding on the $750 million project...  Read more

Local activist Noel van Swol dies in car crash

Above: Noel van Swol, in a screenshot from a 2011 YouTube video from Energy In Depth's Northeast Marcellus Initiative. In the video, van Swol cites the Anti-Rent Wars as a precedent for the pro-gas-drilling movement in upstate New York, and tells an interviewer, "We are not an economic colony of the Delaware River Basin Commission, New York City, Philadelphia or Trenton. We own this area. We have property rights."

Noel van Swol, a 70-year-old Long Eddy man who was well-known in the area for championing pro-drilling activism and other causes, died in a car accident Monday. The Times Herald-Record reports:

The Long Eddy resident was retuning from a pro-gas drilling rally in Albany when he apparently went into a diabetic coma while driving and went off the road and crashed not far from his home, said his mother Tuesday morning.

“He was a wonderful son,” said his mother who was too distraught to speak after answering the phone.  Read more

Tough fracking choices ahead for Deposit

With speculation flying about what the state's next move on hydraulic fracturing will be, the spotlight is on New York's Southern Tier, where the richest Marcellus Shale gas deposits lie.

WSKG's Matt Richmond has a terrific radio documentary out today about Deposit, a place on the border of Delaware and Broome Counties where the drillers are likely to be headed soon. On the website of Innovation Trail, a magazine that covers the economy and technology in upstate New York, readers can listen to an excerpt and read the transcript of the piece.

Richmond's story doesn't dwell on all the Albany insider baseball going on about when the state will act on hydrofracking, and what the plan will look like. Instead, he talks to ordinary people in Deposit, and what gas drilling means to them:  Read more

Constitution Pipeline company to hold community meetings in Cobleskill, Oneonta

Above: Detail from a map showing over a dozen alternate routes proposed by the Constitution Pipeline Company. Full map embedded below. Source: Constitution Pipeline website.

The company behind the Constitution Pipeline, which has held several public meetings to discuss the pipeline's proposed route and answer community questions, is holding two more meetings this week.

The meeting times and places:

Wednesday, September 12
6:30 to 8:30 pm
Best Western Cobleskill
121 Burgin Dr., Cobleskill, NY

Thursday September 13
6:30 to 8:30 pm
Holiday Inn Oneonta
5206 State Highway 23, Oneonta, NY

The Constitution Pipeline is a planned 121-mile natural gas pipeline that will bring gas from Susquehanna County in northern Pennsylvania to the Iroquois and Tennessee pipelines in Schoharie County.  Read more


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