Gas Drilling’s Death by 1,000 Stalls in NY

An opinion column in today’s New York Post aptly nails the situation on gas drilling in New York State. In fact, the title says it all, “Fracking in NY: death by 1,000 stalls?” MDN has been a Johnny-one-note on this topic with our assertion that Joe Martens, Commissioner of the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and the man whose job it is to get drilling going in the state, is intentionally delaying drilling because he doesn’t want to see it happen. The Post agrees.

The Post column says, in part:

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is on course to kill any hope of a New York natural-gas boom with the death of 1,000 stalls.

The DEC is taking too long, and paying too much heed to disingenuous critics, in issuing rules to allow the key process of “fracking”…

Last week, the DEC announced it’s extending for another 30 days the public-comment period on its proposed fracking rules. This, after already stretching the period from 60 days to 90 days — and after many hearings have turned out more like Occupy Wall Street protests than a sober assessment of safe and effective drilling rules.

The DEC claims it wants to give everyone a chance to voice their concerns about the drilling rules. But offering so-called experts like actor Mark Ruffalo the platform to demand that New York abandon natural-gas drilling in favor of solar power is a waste of time.

[The DEC’s] proposed regulations — including severe limits on where fracking can be done and a complex and drawn-out permitting process — seem designed to discourage investment by major oil and gas players.

Geologist John Conrad says the rules would make New York uncompetitive in gas drilling. “The DEC claims that … only 15 percent of the Marcellus Shale play [would be] inaccessible to drilling,” he explains, “but I’ve looked at areas currently leased by oil and gas operators, and as much as 100 percent of a tract can fall under those restrictions.”

Meanwhile, the DEC wants operators to apply to the state Department of Transportation for “road use” around any drill site — rather than just working with local government. And they might have to do that after getting a drilling permit. More time, more red tape and more risk that you won’t get all the necessary permits after months of time and money for lawyers.

Cathy Ann Kenny of the New York State Petroleum Council, a trade group, warns that, with the rules as written, “I can’t anticipate that [gas drilling] would happen to the extent that it is happening in Pennsylvania because it wouldn’t be as profitable.” She says companies have cut back or closed their New York operations.*

Congratulations Joe. It looks like you’re getting your wish after all. Even if the new rules as written were released tomorrow, it’s doubtful any meaningful drilling would take place in New York State anyway. Death by a thousand cuts, or in this case, a thousand stalls.

*New York Post (Dec 5, 2011) – Fracking in NY: death by 1,000 stalls?

  • Anonymous

    I have no idea if Com. Martens is delaying the review process.  Regradless, the current time line is not unusual.  The original GEIS (1992) took almost a decade to write, with four years between the first draft in ’88 and the final in ’92 — and back then it was not surrounded in controversy.  (If the SGEIS is finalized next year, that will be only three years.)  Certainly extending the comment period for 30 days makes no difference because DEC already has thousands of comments to start reading through. 
    If you want to blame someone for this delay, then blame industry.  They lobbied to have the bill that formalizing spacing units for shale drill passed in 2008 without a SGEIS.  Had a SGEIS preceded the bill, drilling could have begun in 2008.
    Industry has been trying to quiet its critics by saying that after the SGEIS process, NYS will have the best regulations in the country.  But now it is trying to sidetrack those regulations; see the 31 page letter that IOGA-NY sent to the DEC on September 2nd.  If industry can’t profitably drill safely, then it shouldn’t.  Wait until gas prices rise or the science and technology improves.
    Much of the roads for hauling would be state roads, and local road use ordances would not compensate for damage on those roads.   This year a NYSDOT discussion paper estimated $95 to 156 million annual damage to state roads during peak of boom and found no existing state mechanism to compensate.

  • AD1984

    Knew from the get go three and a half years ago this is where new york would end up. The state has been in decline since 1980, and this kind of thinking got it where it is today. The only way for us TAX PAYING land owners to get our Constitutional rights will be to sue new york state.

  • Tom Roughneck

    isn’t it funny how leftist anti -capitalists have complete and utter faith in technology when it comes to so called “Green” energy ; but’ any technological innovation or reasoning in the oil and gas business is a lie, or will fail… suz say’in Bin Franklin

  • wacoyaco

    BinFranklin, Martens is an Anti, his delay tactics are being used within the scope of his powers.Its obvious he is doing everything in his power to stop the process from moving forward, under his watch. If he was at least leaning slightly pro, do you think for a second he would have let the traveling” Circus” show happen during these public comment periods? I attended the Binghamton show, I was hoping to hear some positive ideas that some would give to enhance the SGEIS. In the 2 hours I sat there I heard numerous people( Mostly Anti’s) make their 3 minute no substance  comments, only one person actually made a comment to enhance the report, which was the reason for the public comment in the first place. Not one person was stopped or reminded why they were there by the board on stage.As Jim has mentioned, and I observed,these meetings were surreall and at best a farce. They just did not exemplify what they were meant to do.
     Today , I just received the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s video tape of how he is going to fix the  jobless situation and the economy in NY.  He is going to ” Borrow” money ( billions) from New York Pension systems, to rebuild bridges in NY and raise taxes for the wealthy. OMG what a cop out.he will be leaving New Yorkers in very serious debt, more than ever before, force the wealthy to reside out of state to avoid these proposed tax hikes, and only  make the few qualified contractors who are capable of this type of work wealthy. He will only create at besta few thousand jobs!! There are 8 million people in NY, mostly lower and middle class( except for NYC of course) that are struggling everyday to survive. This is the top offices best thinking? God help us!! I have been a home builder for 15 years and out of business!! Your worried about road damage BinFranklin, simple answer to that one is putting a bond up which most builders have to do anyway. Don’t you think that with all the ‘New” tax revenue received if drilling is allowed that NY can put more people back to work to repair them? Drilling will create BILLIONS of dollars in taxes, then the local government can hire people to oversee all the industry, roads, water, DEC, transportation, etc.
     Governor Cuomo will be long out of office when it comes time to payback those ‘ Borrowed” Pension Fund dollars, of course with interest. Guess who will have to pay for it? YOU and ME. I just cant believe that he can not make the simple decision to allow gas drilling in NY to bring those dollars in. This is turning out to be a ” Democratic” party solution to a huge problem. Borrow money we don’t have, pass the problem forward, let someone else have to deal with it in the future. Only problem now is New York just can not afford to do that anymore, the solution is right in front of your face Governor and you failed New York and all New Yorkers .

  • Jim Willis

    Excellent point Tom. They make no allowance that technology is constantly advancing, and “problems” are getting solved. Which once again puts the lie to those that oppose–it’s an ideology, an agenda they are advancing and fossil fuels have no place in that agenda.

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