NY Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel Member Speaks Out

In July, New York Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Joe Martens announced the formation of a Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel to make recommendations to the DEC on how to oversee, monitor and enforce new shale drilling regulations in the state (see this MDN story). The initial panel of 13 members was heavily tilted to anti-drillers, with a few pro-drillers thrown on to make it look good. In August, Martens appointed an additional five members (all pro-drilling) to the panel, to provide balance and give landowners a voice. Those new members include:

  • Robert Williams, landowner in the Town of Windsor, member of the New York Joint Landowners Coalition
  • Jeff Williams, Deputy Director and Manager of Governmental Relations, New York Farm Bureau
  • Brad Gill, Executive Director, Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York
  • James B. Bays, Supervisor, Town of Smyrna
  • Thomas Santulli, County Executive, Chemung County

At a pro-drilling meeting last night, MDN had the pleasure of hearing Bob Williams give a brief update of his time thus far on the Advisory Panel. Among his comments:

  • So far, the panel has held four meetings, although five had been scheduled by now. By the fifth meeting, panel members were supposed to have completed recommended staffing and budget recommendations for various state agencies that will deal with drilling issues directly or indirectly.
  • Williams said that Joe Martens “runs a good meeting” and keeps each meeting on track and on time. They start at 1 pm and end at 4 pm promptly.
  • Much of the time at each meeting is spent listening to presentations given by various agencies or groups. Williams said that there is never discussion of any kind among the panel members, and certainly no disagreements or arguments. There isn’t enough time.
  • At the last meeting, Tom Santulli, panel member and County Executive from Chemung County, gave a presentation revealing that although there is no shale drilling in New York, the drilling just across the border in Pennsylvania has already had a profound economic impact on his county. There are some 1,300 people who live in Chemung County that are employed by the drilling industry in PA.
  • Williams said it was during the last five minutes at the most recent meeting that Commissioner Joe Martens made the announcement that the reports from the panel would be delayed until sometime next year. There was no discussion, just an announcement by Martens. Williams said many of the panel members sat there “dumbfounded” by his announcement—the first they had heard of it themselves.
  • Drill, Safely, Drill — NY Shal

    Nice original reporting, Jim. It shows how much crucial detail is laying around out there, completely ignored by the mainstream media.

  • Anonymous

    May I suggest we all write to the governor and to our  state representatives immediately and demand Joe Marten stick to his original timetable. Make the decisions and get on with it! 

  • Anonymous

    I guess I will be the guy who points this out. If what I read above is deemed “speaking out” then us Pro Drillers are DOOMED!!. If Mr. Williams wants to speak out this should be reported in every news paper and news agency in the southern tier. He and the other “Pro Drillers” on the panel should be holding press confrences on the matter. I love ya Jim and your efforts with MDN, but buddy you ain’t big enough to get the word out to the hundreds of thousands of people who are being directly effected by Mr. Martens feet dragging tactics. Unfortunately mostly everyone I speak to in the southern tier are not tuned into MDN on a daily basis. However most of them watch the 5,6, or 11 o’clock news or read the daily paper. That is where Mr. Williams should be  “Speaking out”. Most of the folks who will benefit from MS drilling still dont have e-mail, it’s sad but true. We need to get the word to them the old fashioned way.

  • I hear you and can’t disagree. Unfortunately traditional media tends to ignore the story and report what they want. It does seem strange to me that not a single media outlet I read about that recent meeting mentioned what Bob shared last night–how Martens popped the delay announcement at the end. I was under the impression (from reading traditional media) that the decision was bottom-up–that the panel members were the ones telling Martens it should slow down. But alas, that’s not the case.

  • Anonymous

    Just remember that Martens is an Anti period. He is devising ways to postpone drilling any way he can be it delay tactics blaming other agency deficiencies, or dragging the SGEIS around extending time tables, etc.. He is in bed with the Anti’s and must be held accountable for every move he makes and every word out of his mouth. The pro-drilling members on the Advisory panel must hold  Martens feet to the fire and make sure he moves forward. Blueflames is correct about making public ( Newspapers, T.V.) controversial statements made by Martens leaning to any one side so that everyone effected by natural gas stays well informed. The pro’s need to be just as radical as the anti’s.

  • NEPAgal

    apologize, for this is going to be a little off topic but… Don’t even get me
    started on “traditional media”.  I can’t tell you how many times “traditional
    media” has been asked to come out to Dimock and get the other side of the story
    – to visit those within the Consent Order area who aren’t suing and to see and
    drink their water.  “Traditional media” declines every time.  Ask
    “traditional media” in their public comments if they have water tests from the
    litigants proving their water is not as Cabot’s test show or if they’ve even seen any water tests from the litigants and they delete your
    comments.  I’ve even been told straight out they aren’t interested in the truth by one reporter.  BUT, let a couple of the litigants and a bunch of
    out-of-towners dress up in costume as the “brain dead” and the
    “traditional media” is all over that!

    Even when we show up at their events and manage to get camera time, one of
    their ranks insists on running her foul mouth (so that even a sailor would turn
    red) within distance of the microphone, causing our footage to be unsuitable
    for airing.  But WE have to show for THEIR events.

    Back on topic, maybe if Bob puts on a pink gorilla suit, they’ll take notice
    and he’ll get camera time.

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