NY DEC Com. Martens: Fox in Henhouse, or Crazy Like a Fox?

foxOn Friday, MDN told you about the latest development in the ongoing Greek tragedy called the New York State moratorium on fracking (see this MDN story). Our take was that Joe Martens’ latest announcement that he has asked NYS Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to conduct a “health impact analysis” of hydraulic fracturing before the DEC will release new drilling rules was a bad sign that fracking in New York will be seriously delayed yet again—well into 2013.

However, landowner groups, led by the Joint Landowner Coalition of New York (the “JLCNY,” representing over 77,000 individual landowners) don’t see it the same way. They believe the path Martens chose in having Nirav Shah do a limited review and not a wide ranging so-called “independent” review—something being pushed by anti-drillers—means the review will not take long and will do a lot to address public concerns over the practice of fracking. The JLCNY supports Martens’ decision.

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What Will a NY Fracking Health Study Actually Study?

Just what do anti-drilling groups in New York that want a “health impact study” propose to study? How exactly do they think fracking may impact the health of New Yorkers, especially since chemicals don’t leak up to the surface as they sometimes (erroneously) claim? Get this: they want to study potential links between fracking and STDs, homelessness and lack of exercise. Yeah, certifiable wackos.

From an unattributed opinion piece in the New York Daily News (which is not a pro-fracking newspaper):

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Cornell President Says Fracking Genie is Out of the Bottle

David J. Skorton, president of Cornell University, and Glenn C. Altschuler, vice president for University Relations at Cornell, jointly penned an opinion piece for Forbes magazine that talks about the role of universities in the fracking debate. Cornell is home to professors Robert Howarth and Tony Ingraffea who have both made a cottage industry out of bashing natural gas drilling and fracking (and infamously still maintain natural gas pollutes more than coal).

Here is the (eye-popping) concluding statement from Cornell’s president about fracking:

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Important Case in WV Supreme Court This Week

An important case for surface rights owners goes before the West Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday. The court will hear a case to determine whether or not surface landowners—those without the rights to minerals in the ground—have the right to appeal oil and gas drilling permits that allow companies to erect drilling sites on their land. As with most legal matters, this one gets complicated:

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Questerre Energy Points Out Quebec’s Hypocrisy on Fracking

Quebec, Canada currently has a moratorium in place on fracking shale for oil and natural gas, similar to New York State. They were due to consider lifting the ban in 2014 with recommendations from a study on how to proceed with fracking, but those hopes were pretty much destroyed last week when a member of the new “separatist” government in Quebec, Natural Resource Minister Martine Ouellet, said the government will not lift the ban any time soon and added she believes fracking cannot ever be done safely.

Part of the Utica Shale underlies Quebec, which is why this is a story of interest to MDN. Questerre Energy, a large Canadian driller, issued a press release about the Quebec situation, saying continuance of the moratorium will not affect them—but they are disappointed in Ouellet’s position. They also say, in their polite Canadian way, that Quebec is hypocritical because they import a lot of shale gas from Western Canada—gas created using the very same “unsafe” fracking technology:

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Still No Decision on Drilling Near Wheeling Park High School

Chesapeake Energy, the only driller with active operations in Ohio, Brooke or Hancock counties, wants to site a drill pad about 1,300 feet from the Wheeling Park High School (in Ohio County, WV). The school doesn’t like the plan. A decision has still not been made, but is under review by the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Is it a good idea? Bad idea? Depends on who you ask:

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Global Frackdown Protest was a Global Flop

Depending on your news source, the “Global Frackdown” series of events held on Saturday, Sept. 22 was supposedly happening in “more than 100 cities” across the globe, or “about 150 cities.” Take your pick. Either way, the Global Frackdown was a Global Flop.

Did anyone, anywhere actually see protesters on Saturday? Does anyone have a photo of a huge crowd protesting on Saturday? Did anyone count the actual number of locations with two or more protesters? No. And MDN believes the event was held in far fewer than 100 locations, and attended by far fewer than the so-called “thousands” who were said to have assembled to protest fracking. In fact, we believe there were more pro-drillers at a recent event in rural Upstate New York than showed up for the collective Global Frackdown (see this MDN story).

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French Company Total Says “Non, Merci” to More Utica Shale

In December 2011, French energy giant Total purchased a 25 percent ownership stake in Chesapeake Energy’s Ohio Utica Shale leases for 10 Ohio counties for $2.3 billion. In May, Total paid Chesapeake another $2 billion for a 90% stake in 9,000 leases in Columbiana County, OH (see this MDN story).

It seemed like Total was going full speed ahead with purchases of shale acreage in the Utica Shale. Not any more.

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MSC Launches LearnAboutShale.org to Answer Questions

On Friday, Sept. 21, during the Shale Gas Insight event in Philadelphia, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) launched a new website called LearnAboutShale.org. The MSC just completed three months of eliciting questions from Pennsylvanians at “listening sessions” about shale drilling. That initiative was called Ask About Shale. They’ve now categorized and answered those questions and invite new questions at the LearnAboutShale.org website.

From the MSC press release:

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