NY DEC Commissioner Joe Martens Stacks New Fracking Panel with Anti-Drillers

stacked deckAs part of the new Marcellus drilling regulations in New York, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens created a Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel. The new panel is initially composed of 13 people from environmentalist organizations, with a few industry and elected officials thrown in (see the list here). Panel members are charged with making suggestions to Martens on fracking in New York—oversight of how the DEC implements it, and potential changes to make it better.

An excellent analysis piece from Tom Shepstone at the Energy in Depth Northeast Marcellus Initiative website exposes the stacked deck Martens has created and poses the very real possibility that Martens is intentionally trying to undermine Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the issue of drilling in New York.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is at the center of the newly appointed panel of advisory members, casting a very long shadow. NRDC is closely aligned with the Open Space Institute (OSI), the organization where Martens was president for years before resigning to take the DEC position. The OSI and NRDC are all about stopping drilling, or any other kind of “development”.

From Tom’s article:

The picture starts to take shape. The new committee Joe Martens has charged with “developing recommendations to ensure DEC and other agencies are enabled to properly oversee, monitor and enforce high-volume hydraulic fracturing activities” is largely composed of “Friends of NRDC” and other hard-core opponents of natural gas development. Let’s review the composition of the 13 member committee:

  1. Eric Goldstein – Senior Attorney, NRDC
  2. Kate Sindling – Senior Attorney, NRDC
  3. Robert Kennedy, Jr. – Former Senior Attorney, NRDC
  4. Robert Hallman – Attorney and Board Chair, NY League of Conservation Voters (where Kennedy, NRDC founder John Adams and other NRDC/OSI leaders serve as Directors)
  5. Mark Brownstein – Chief Counsel, Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund (where OSI Executive Director Christopher Elliman sits on the Advisory Board)
  6. Robert Moore – Executive Director of Environmental Advocates which proudly advertises itself as part of the “The Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling team” that also includes Catskill Mountainkeeper and NRDC
  7. Kathleen McGinty – Columbia law graduate, former Pennsylvania DEP Secretary, protege of Al Gore, member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s subcommittee on natural gas and “good friend” of John and Patricia Adams.

The other six members consist of a balanced group of business, industry, academic and governmental officials, but include only one gas company representative and apparently no geologist or anyone with the requisite detailed knowledge of how fracturing actually works, which one would hope such a committee might possess.  The problem is that these six voices are dominated by eight “Friends of NRDC,” if one counts Joe Martens, who gets to accept or reject the committee conclusions. Most are also associated with a NRDC organized coalition of anti’s that submitted comments on the SGEIS scope in 2008.  Worse, six of the eight are lawyers by training and five of those represent organizations committed to stopping hydraulic fracturing or taking hard-core positions on natural gas development and three are current or former NRDC attorneys! Where is the balance?*

From the beginning, MDN has had deep concerns that Gov. Cuomo had appointed a fox to watch over the henhouse. In a Feb. 9 article pointing out Martens’ extreme environmental positions in speeches he gave as recently as 2010, (see MDN article here), we said at that time:

MDN’s question: Will the real Joe Martens please stand up? If it walks and quacks like an environmentally protected wetlands migratory fowl, what do you think it is? Landowners in New York have reason to be concerned about the future of drilling in the state with Joe Martens as director of the DEC.

*Energy in Depth NMI (Jul 4, 2011) – The Commissioner from NRDC?