Last year some 40 landowners separated from the Windsor & Colesville Oil and Gas Lease Coalition to sign a deal to lease their land to Inflection Energy. Collectively the breakaway group holds about 3,000 acres. The rest of the coalition decided against signing in hopes of a better deal once drilling is allowed to begin in New York. The deal signed with Inflection was supposed to yield a signing bonus of $2,750 per acre, due to landowners by March 3rd. But that payment did not happen.
Norwegian driller Norse Energy Corp. recently meet with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens, and they were encouraged by the meeting, saying that Martens asserted his confidence in the DEC to complete plans to release its Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale this summer.
Norse Energy has good reason to care what happens in New York—they have a significant land position of 180,000 net acres in the state. Norse Energy also owns a natural gas marketing business and operates pipeline systems in New York and Pennsylvania for gathering and transmission of natural gas.
Newly appointed Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Krancer has made a major change in procedure at the agency. “Routine matters” like notices of violations (NOVs) for problems found at drilling sites were, until now, issued by DEP field inspectors and their regional directors. But now all routine matters, including NOVs, must be pre-approved by officials at the DEP headquarters in Harrisburg.
Those who oppose drilling are trying a new tactic. Their argument is that (a) gas drilling pollutes the air and the water, (b) clean air and water are basic human rights, therefore (c) gas drilling must be banned in order to protect human rights. Here is an example of that argument from a town meeting in Newton Township (Lackawanna County), PA, convened for the purpose of organizing against drilling: