JLCNY Lawsuit Imminent – But Not the One You Thought

court gavelLike all things legal–and like all things NY–this story is a tad complex, so please bear with us. If you have an interest in whether, and when, NY begins shale fracking, this is an important story. For some time MDN has told you about the lawsuit that has been prepared and waiting (for funds) to move forward by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY). Their lawsuit was to focus on “takings,” the legal concept that New York State has denied landowners the sovereign right to use their own property as they see fit–to lease it for shale drilling–and by doing so the state owes them just compensation for “taking” away that value (see our story from last April: JLCNY Provides Extensive Update on NY “Takings” Lawsuit).

The JLCNY has changed legal strategies–that is the big news. Instead of pursuing the “takings” lawsuit at this point, which is a long, expensive legal process, the JLCNY has instead decided to change their legal focus to an Article 78 lawsuit. Sound familiar? Recently Norse Energy hired Albany attorney Tom West to file an Article 78 on behalf of their now bankrupt company (see Norse Energy Sues Gov. Cuomo to Force Release of Fracking Regs). By adding the voice of 70,000 landowners to a second Article 78 lawsuit, which is a legal way of forcing Gov. Cuomo, DEC Com. Martens and Health Com. Shah to perform their sworn duties, the JLCNY believes this new legal strategy will offer a more effective, quicker resolution to the long-standing moratorium (now in place over 5 1/2 years). We have a copy of the “demand” letter by the JLCNY to Martens, a press announcement and a fundraising appeal from the JLCNY below…
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Binghamton Newspaper Censors JLCNY Lawsuit News

Once again a glittering example of why mainstream media news sources, like the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, are dying. Fast. Because they simply ignore (suppress? censor?) news that doesn’t fit their own anti-drilling philosophy.

You might think that an organization that boasts 70,000 members throughout New York State (the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, or JLCNY) that has just sent a letter to the governor, the head of the Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the state health commissioner telling them they’re about to get sued (see our companion story today) might be newsworthy. Further, if the chief lawyer and the president of said group (representing 70,000 landowners) called a press conference to explain the upcoming lawsuit–you might think it would at least rate a paragraph or two in the local newspaper of record. Right? If you live in the Binghamton area, that answer would be–wrong…
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New Frack Wastewater Injection Well Coming to Elk County, PA

Looks like more injection wells are on the way in Pennsylvania. Injection wells are used to pump leftover frack fluid (and brine, naturally occurring salt water that comes of the hole longer after fracking is done) deep underground for safe disposal. There are a lot of injection wells in Ohio, and PA drillers who don’t recycle or find another way of disposing of wastewater typically ship it to OH. (Vol. 3 of the Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook, out in a week, contains what we believe the most comprehensive list of frack wastewater and landfills in existence. Pre-order a copy now!)

Seneca Resources has just received federal approval to convert an old vertical natural gas well in Elk County, PA into an injection disposal well. The Elk injection well will pump up to 60,000 gallons per day of wastewater and brine into the Elk 3 sandstone formation. However, before they begin operations at the Elk injection well, Seneca still needs an approval from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection…
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Chapter Closed: 2 Landmen Sentenced to Federal Pen for Fraud

The conclusion of an ignominious episode for landmen. Last year MDN told you about two rotten apples in the barrel–landmen who concocted a scheme to steal ownership rights from unsuspecting landowners and sell those rights to drillers, pocketing the money for themselves. There were caught. One fessed up right away–it took the mastermind behind it a bit longer but he finally confessed too (see 2nd Landman Pleads Guilty to Single Count in $2.4M Fraud Scheme).

Last Friday a federal judge in Pittsburgh sentenced Derek Candelore (33, of Jeannette, PA) to three years, four months in federal prison. His sidekick William Ray (29, of Monroeville, PA) got eight months in the federal pen…
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Run Donald Run! Will “The Donald” Challenge Frackless Andy in NY?

Could Donald Trump slay the evil frackless dragon Smaug (otherwise known as Gov. Andy Cuomo)? Only if he runs for governor. Last October we told you of rumors circulating that Donald Trump was considering a run against sitting Gov. Andrew Cuomo (see Can Donald Trump Save Fracking in NY?). He’s frankly the only person with enough name recognition that could even possibly pose a serious challenge to Cuomo. Soon after we ran that story, however, Trump seemed to tamp down the rumor.

But what’s this? It appears The Donald is reconsidering and may yet run (which we earnestly hope he does)…
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Range Floats Plan to Use Drill Cuttings to Build Roads

This one is sure to set the anti-frackers into a tailspin. Range Resources has applied to the PA State Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to begin using drill cuttings (leftover rock and dirt that comes out of the ground) as an “aggregate” or material to build roads to drilling sites. There’s nothing wrong with drill cuttings, but sometimes there are low levels of radioactivity found in them–far below any kind of health threat. But we can see the headlines now: Radioactive Roads! Run for the Hills! Drillers Want to Poison Mother Earth! That’s how the shrill anti-fossil fuel lobby will try and spin this.

We’re sure Range knows they’ve opened a can of worms with this one. Let’s see how it all plays out in the coming 60 days, the time period authorized by the DEP to receive public comments on the proposed plan…
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The Secretive Ways of NYS Health Com. Nirav Shah

It’s no secret that New York State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah is having his chain yanked by his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the issue of hydraulic fracturing. The Health Department has been involved every step of the way with the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) over the past 5 1/2 years, evaluating proposed drilling regulations with an eye on whether there are so-called public health impacts and ramifications. But at the eleventh hour last year, Cuomo instructed Shah to do yet another review, and that review, which at one point Shah said was just “weeks away” from being completed, is still not done more than a year later. Why? Cuomo told him to slow it down. That’s the only explanation that makes sense.

Recently Shah as quizzed about the process he’s using to “evaluate” fracking regulations and potential health impacts. Shah has been super secretive about what he’s up to. He’s gone on record saying the process he’s using should not be transparent as it’s being done–only at the end. Anti-drillers are as frustrated with him as pro-drillers. Both sides have sued Shah (for different reasons) and according to anti-drilling former Gannett reporter Tom Wilbur, Shah is about to be forced to reveal what he’s been up to…
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Anti-Drillers Target PA DEP Official for Elimination

The anti-drilling long knives have come out for a mid-level PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) official because he dared to invest money in a mutual fund that buys energy stocks, investing in a PA driller (Cabot Oil & Gas, man knows a good thing when he sees it), and for an investment in a company that manufactures natural gas vehicle engines.

Said official, Executive Deputy Secretary for Administration and Management Jeffrey Logan, has nothing to do with permitting or reporting or anything with the oil and gas end of the DEP’s business. There’s no “insider knowledge” he gets because of his position. But that’s OK–it’s time for a little anti-drilling bloodsport. Let’s shove him out on the stage in the limelight and begin target practice to see if we can bring him down…
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