Vestal Landowner Group Shops for a Drilling Contract

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (Oct 28):
Vestal landowners offer lease plan for gas drillers

The Vestal Coaltion, a group of landowners in Broome County, NY, has created a draft lease agreement on behalf of its members and is now shopping it, looking for an energy company to sign the lease. According to the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

A coalition of Vestal landowners has a deal for you: Roughly $46 million and 20 percent royalties for mineral rights to about 8,000 acres.

A group of about 400 property owners signed a lease that would make it attractive for energy companies to do business with them, said Marty Leab, a coalition organizer. They have commissioned Dean Lowry and Llama Horizontal Drilling to find a taker in 90 days or less.

Specifically, the lease would pay landowners a minimum of $5,750 an acre, plus 20 percent royalties, for a five-year lease of mineral rights, and a three-year extension, according to a copy of the lease obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin.

According to the website for the Vestal Coalition, they’re still accepting new landowner members. Visit their site:

Also, this tidbit of older news from the article, but still valuable to know:

The market heated up as natural gas prices rose in spring 2007, and XTO bought mineral rights to land in the Deposit area for about $2,500 an acre. Since then, offers in the region have shot up to between $3,000 and $6,000 an acre and 20 percent royalties

Drilling Waste Water Treatment Plant Proposed for Owego

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (Oct 28):
Drilling processor targets Owego site

From the Oct. 28th Press & Sun-Bulletin:

A plant to treat waste from the Marcellus Shale is on the drawing board in the Town of Owego.

Patriot Water Treatment pitched its plans to convert a former car dealership at 936 Taylor Road to a waste water treatment plant for Marcellus drillers at a planning board meeting Tuesday night. The proposal calls for installing holding and processing tanks in the existing building to treat round-the-clock shipments of drilling waste water, according to information from the planning board.

And this:

The plan, recommended for approval by the Tioga County Planning Board, estimates traffic from industrial waste haulers would average 96 trucks per day (four per hour), seven days a week. Haulers would use Day Hollow Road, Bodle Hill Road and Taylor Road to access the facility.

Of course, anything to do with drilling is subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) opposed by the Press & Sun-Bulletin. The thought they want to leave you with is trucks lumbering down your street in the middle of the night hauling nasty chemicals ready to spill out on your front lawn.

I know I would not want trucks round the clock going by my house–but–actually, they do! I live not a quarter mile from State Route 17 (the future I-86) and the traffic noise, especially from large trucks downshifting on a nearby hill, is 24×7. Traffic, especially if it’s mostly in the daytime, is a fact of commerce.

Let’s let the good citizens of the Owego Town Board perform their due dilligence and render a decision that is fair to all the citizens of Tioga County. If the proposed location is too close to homes and traffic will be an ongoing disturbance, they should deny the permit. If not, grant it and reap the benfits of more jobs and more tax revenue from a new business in the area.

I have confidence in our locally elected representatives to make the correct decision in this case.

M&T Bank Economist Bullish on Drilling in the Marcellus in PA

Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader (Oct 29):
Banker: Marcellus Shale to boost region

M&T Bank economist and Chief Investment Officer James Thorne, Ph.D., addressed a recent meeting of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry about the impact of drilling in the Marcellus Shale in Northeast Pennsylvania. Among his comments:

The Marcellus Shale gas play will be “a game changer” for Northeastern Pennsylvania, bringing a “huge economic injection” and making life here very different a decade from now…

He also said,

The region will get “a huge shot in the arm” from natural gas drilling. “The economic forecast is very bright.”

There was also this interesting update about drilling activity in Luzerne County:

Many landowners in Luzerne County have entered into leases with drillers, but no wells are yet operating in the county.

First NY DEC Meeting on Proposed Drilling Regulations Held in Sullivan County

Middletown Times Herald-Record (Oct 29):
300 folks pack Sullivan fracking forum

The first scheduled meeting for public comments on the draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) held by the New York DEC happened yesterday in Sullivan County, NY. According to the Middletown Times Herald-Record:

Most of the speakers in the standing-room-only, mostly anti-drilling crowd of more than 300 at Sullivan County Community College said the proposed Department of Environmental Conservation rules for drilling of the Marcellus shale fall short.

The anti-drilling standard tactic is to delay drilling in hopes of building support to get it banned altogether. This was evidenced at the meeting. With regard to extending the DEC’s public comment period (which would further delay the start of drilling):

Paul Rush, deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, called for 45 extra days.

Joe DiPane of Callicoon called for six months, since the shale “has been formed underground for eons,” he said.

There are two more scheduled meetings, Nov. 10 in New York City and Nov. 12 in the Binghamton area. A third meeting is yet to be arranged in the Elmira area. (See Public Hearings on the New York Draft SGEIS for Marcellus Shale Drilling for details.) Landowners need to attend and make their voices heard!

Chesapeake Energy Decides to Not Drill in Catskill Region of New York

Albany Times Union (Oct 29):
Gas company backs off drilling

There is an important lesson to be learned today: Anti-drilling groups will not be satisfied until there is zero drilling anywhere. This truth is now on full display for all to see. An article in today’s Albany Times Union trumpets the announcement that Chesapeake Energy, sole leaseholder of rights to drill in the Catskill Mountain region of upstate New York (with 5,000 acres), has decided not to drill in that area.

The Catskill region feeds and contains water resevoirs for New York City. The City is dependent on the water from that region of upstate. This fact is being used as a weapon by anti-drillers to stoke fears that the water supply for nine million people would be poluted if there’s any drilling in or near that area. So Chesapeake decided to remove that objection from the table by announcing they would voluntarily commit to not drilling in the watershed area.

So what do the anti-drillers do? Rejoice…dancing in the streets…express gratitude to Chesapeake? Not on your life. Here’s their response:

“One company’s voluntary moratorium on drilling at this point is no substitute for a thorough analysis by the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health to determine the catastrophic potential of drilling into the watershed and in adjacent communities,” said Michael Saucier, a spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Protection.

And this:

“We’re calling on Chesapeake Energy to back up this promise by transferring its leases to the city of New York for the price of $1. After the transfer, the state should ban drilling in the New York City watershed,” said Deborah Goldberg, a managing attorney with EarthJustice, an environmental lobbying group.

And finally, this precious piece of logic:

“When the gas drilling industry says it won’t drill within the source of drinking water for nine million people, it sends a strong message to state regulators that this activity is inappropriate,” said James L. Simpson, Staff Attorney with Riverkeeper.

So, don’t do what the anti-drillers want and your Satan himself. Do what they want, and you’re still Satan himself. Let this be a lesson to all drilling companies and landowners: No compromise with the anti-drillers. Their objective is to shut you down permanently. Stick up for your rights. We still (for now) live in a free country with private property rights. Thank God for the Constitution! Exercise your rights before they’re gone.