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.
Not long after the Norse meeting, Sec. Martens appeared on National Public Radio’s “The Capitol Pressroom” backtracking from his comments of last year that New York should wait until the federal Environmental Protection Agency completes its study of hydraulic fracturing before moving ahead. He is now singing a different tune, no doubt because he’s been directed to from his boss Gov. Andrew Cuomo:
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take, number one, for EPA to complete its study. I have a lot of confidence that DEC has the resources – not just at DEC, but the state of New York – we’re taking advantages of the resources of other states, other state agencies, to look at all of these issues…“We’re going to do a very thorough job…I’m confident we are going to have all the information we need to complete the supplemental generic environmental impact statement…I’m satisfied it’s going to come out, but probably more like this summer some time,” Martens said.
New York State’s official geologist, Dr. Langhorne “Taury” Smith, recently refuted claims by environmentalists that hydraulic fracturing contaminates groundwater. He was quoted in the Albany Times Union newspaper saying that claims of contamination have been “exaggerated” and used to raise funds by alarming people about the alleged dangers of hydraulic fracturing. Dr. Smith indicated he has found no evidence of such contamination in three years of study. Unfortunately, Dr. Smith has now been muzzled under threat of firing—he can no longer talk to the press.
Both Mr. Marten’s and Dr. Smith’s comments give encouragement to Norse Energy. “It is very encouraging that public officials in New York State are openly addressing the facts and the science, commented Norse Energy CEO, Mark Dice. “This natural gas well completion process has been, and will continue to be, done safely in this state under the watchful eye of the DEC”, concluded Dice.
Let’s hope that Norse’s optimism is well-founded.