Upstate NY’s Corning Gas Sees More Opportunities with Marcellus

Corning Natural Gas Corporation, a subsidiary of Corning Natural Gas Holding Corporation, is a local distribution company (LDC, or “utility”) with nearly 450 miles of gas pipeline mains transporting natural gas to roughly 15,000 customers. Corning makes natgas deliveries in 23 towns and villages–over 400 square miles–throughout the Southern Tier and central regions of New York State. Corning, as you may know, sits virtually on top of the border of New York and Pennsylvania. On the NY side of the border, a tyrant governor (Andrew Cuomo) rules with an iron fist and blocks fracking and even natural gas pipelines. On the PA side of the border, Marcellus (and increasingly Utica) shale gas is extracted in large quantities, creating a bonanza of economic and (yes) environmental benefits. Fortunately for Corning Gas, they are able to tap into some of that PA Marcellus supply. Corning Gas has a 50% joint venture owner in Leatherstocking Gas Company and Leatherstocking Pipeline Company. Leatherstocking runs gas mains to residents and businesses in small communities, like Montrose, PA (see PA Rural Residents Burn Marcellus Gas, Save Big Bucks on Heating). In a Securities and Exchange Commission 10-Q filing yesterday (10-Q is a comprehensive report of a company’s performance that must be submitted quarterly by all public companies to the SEC), Corning Gas management said one of their “most promising growth opportunities” is by “increasing connections with local gas production sources”–meaning they want to tap more Marcellus gas to sell to their customers. Corning Gas wants/needs more Marcellus gas in order to grow. We like the sound that!…
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EPA Fines Crestwood’s NY Facility $312K for Paperwork Violations

pay fines here signThe rogue and out-of-control federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues its bullying ways when it comes to the oil and gas industry. Just coming to light (for us) is an action last week by the EPA to fine Crestwood Midstream’s Finger Lakes LPG Storage subsidiary $312,000–for not filing the right paperwork for their facility in upstate New York. Note that the fines are NOT for leaking methane or propane, NOT for endangering the public, NOT for actually doing ANY kind of environmental harm. The fines are for not filing the proper paperwork. The EPA is behaving like the mob running a protection money racket. Crestwood has to pay the EPA $154,000 in fines, and then pay $158,000 for new equipment for three local fire departments located near the facility. The antis are already using this paperwork violation as yet another reason to bleat and blat about Crestwood’s proposed underground propane storage facility along the shores of Seneca Lake. The paperwork violation is for a Crestwood/Finger Lakes LPG Storage facility in the next county–nowhere near Seneca Lake where the proposed propane facility is located. Makes no difference. Antis say it’s yet more evidence that Crestwood can’t be trusted to safely operate the propane storage facility…
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NY Town Barred from Selling Water to Shell for PA Fracking

In March 2012, the village board in Painted Post (Steuben County), NY voted to sell water to Shell for use in fracking operations across the border in Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) gave its blessing to Painted Post to sell up to 1 million gallons of water day. But the decision didn’t sit well with power-hungry anti-drillers. The nutters from the radical Sierra Club sued to stop the deal in June 2012 (see Sierra Club Sues to Stop Water Sales in Steuben County, NY). A lower court ruled in favor of the radicals and struck down the deal. On appeal, a corrupt state appellate court has upheld the lower court’s ruling. Shell will have to find water from another source–not that they’re drilling any wells right now anyway…
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JLCNY Rally in NY to Support Defense of Property Rights Bill

In January of this year, an upstate New York Congressman, Tom Reed (Corning, NY) introduced a bill that would, if adopted, provide relief to NY landowners who have been screwed over by Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking in the Empire State. The bill is called the Defense of Property Rights Act (DOPRA) and it changes “takings” laws in an important way–it changes the law to say if government action causes a landowner economic harm “in whole or in part” the landowner has a takings claim (see Federal Defense of Property Rights Act Explained; End of Frack Bans?). The “in part” language is the key because until now, the entire value had to be “taken” in order to bring a takings claim. As we pointed out back in January, this is an important law for all landowners everywhere, not just in NY–a law that prevents tyrannical politicians like Cuomo from overstepping their authority. The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY) is holding a rally this Saturday in Painted Post, NY to support Congressman Reed and his legislation…
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PA Farmers Flourish Thanks to Marcellus While NY Farmers Fail

A rather long, and surprisingly pretty balanced, article appeared over the weekend in The Buffalo News comparing and contrasting Pennsylvania and New York’s approach to the issue of shale drilling. The reporter actually talked to a number of sources on both sides of the drilling issue and wrote a good article that presents the facts of the economic miracle happening in PA, and the economic misery happening in upstate NY because of our state’s dithering. You can tell it’s a good article when the cadre of about a half dozen anti-drillers (pathetic people with no lives apart from opposing drilling) flock to the comments to condemn the article and condemn those who dare to post a positive comment about drilling.

The article opens with the classic tale of two cities theme, comparing the fortunes (or lack thereof) of two farmers on opposite sides of the NY/PA border…
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17-Mile Gas Pipeline in Steuben County, NY Makes Progress

Empire Pipeline, a subsidiary of National Fuel Gas Company (which also owns driller Seneca Resources) is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for approval on a new 17-mile pipeline in Steuben County, NY. The project is called the Tuscorara Lateral Project and will cost a projected $43 million. The pipeline will connect a gas storage field and compressor station in Tuscarora, NY (also owned by National Fuel Gas) with the existing Empire Pipeline network–a network that stretches from Buffalo to Syracuse and down to Corning. This “little” piece of pipeline will open up much needed extra volumes of natural gas for Upstate New Yorkers.

Empire/National Fuel is now negotiating with landowners to run the pipe under their property. They hope to begin building later this year and have the pipeline in service in November 2015. Below is a story about the project, the reason for it, the jobs it will create, and finally a copy of a presentation given last year at a special open house with full details…
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Cuomo & DiNapoli: Asleep at Sales Tax Switch in NY Southern Tier

MDN has long chronicled the sad situation for landowners in New York State with a moratorium that is, as of today, 5 years and 20 days old. It has had catastrophic economic consequences for New York, especially for those who live in the Southern Tier of the state–that area along the mid-state “southern” border with Pennsylvania (Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Steuben counties). Gov. Andrew Cuomo is spineless on the fracking issue–that much is clear. He won’t stand up to the shrill and unreasonable voices in his own party. No one will take him seriously on the national stage. Cuomo’s rising star has become a shooting star–straight down.

Thomas DiNapoli, NY State Comptroller, is clearly an avowed anti-driller. We’ve brought you a number of stories that illustrate his disdain for drilling (see MDN stories about DiNapoli here). We find it particularly offensive and hypocritical (although not surprising) that DiNapoli has just issued a report that shows sales tax revenue is up in most of the state’s counties, but down in Southern Tier counties–down a lot. DiNapoli bemoans the fact that the Southern Tier continues to take it in the neck–yet he makes no mention of how shale drilling could instantly reverse the economic misery of Southern Tier residents. Typical politician–identify the problem but offer no solutions…
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Weekend Anti-Gas Propaganda-fest Scheduled for Upstate NY Towns

An all-hands-on-deck anti-drilling propaganda-fest will be held this weekend in Bath, Spencer and Elmira (all in NY state). The so-called “Fracking vs. Human Health Forums” will feature lies and distortions carefully crafted to scare the general public. If you’re a landowner who lives in those areas, attend and make your voice heard to counter the untruths that will be presented.

The details on times and locations:

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Anti-Fracking Group Mails Propaganda Brochure to 190K NYers

Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy is mailing an anti-fracking brochure (killing precious trees from the Catskills to provide the paper, no doubt) to 190,000 residents throughout the Southern Tier area of New York—a region that desperately wants and needs drilling, and the area that will see drilling when/if the current moratorium is lifted. The brochure is pure propaganda and full of outright lies, but hey, this is still Ameritopia where the First Amendment is alive and well, for people on the left anyway.

An electronic copy of the brochure is embedded below so MDN’s fellow NYers know what they can use to line the bird cage with when it arrives.

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Does Steuben County, NY Landfill Accept Drilling Wastewater?

The Steuben County landfill in Bath, NY was approved and ready to accept shale cuttings (leftover soil and rock from drilling) at the landfill in early August of this year (see this MDN story). They now are accepting some shale cuttings. Earlier this week a local environmental lawyer raised concerns at a meeting of the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee that the landfill may also be receiving flowback water—water that comes back up out of the bore hole after drilling—in the landfill along with shale cuttings. Flowback has high concentrations of minerals making it salty or “briny.”

County Public Works Commissioner Vince Spagnoletti said the landfill does not accept flowback direct from drillers. However, the landfill does accept some treated wastewater from another landfill. Here’s the details:

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Two Views on Road Use Agreements for Drillers in NY

Some counties in Upstate New York are prepared for potential road damage caused by trucks and heavy equipment when and if shale gas drilling begins. Some of those counties are a lot more welcoming of drillers than others.

Steuben County in New York’s Southern Tier area—one of the five named counties likely to receive permits when drilling begins—is one of the counties ready with a road-use agreement for drillers. Interestingly, Vince Spagnoletti, Public Works Commissioner for Steuben County, says the road use agreement in Steuben originated not because of potential gas drilling but because of potential wind farm development:

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Anti-Drillers Hijack the Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative

The board that oversees the Keuka Watershed Improvement Cooperative has voted to request Gov. Andrew Cuomo grant the Keuka watershed (Finger Lakes area of New York) protection against hydraulic fracturing—to put it “off limits”—as will be done with both the New York City and Syracuse watershed areas (if the draft version of the SGEIS drilling rules are passed as written).

But at least one village trustee in the area is concerned that the board has turned the Keuka watershed group into a lobbying (i.e. political) organization, and Penn Yan’s village attorney says the request’s language goes well beyond drilling restrictions.

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NY Fracking Fight Heads to Townships – Rest of the Story

An article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal focuses on an issue MDN has covered for some time: how the fight over hydraulic fracturing in New York State has “gone local,” meaning it’s largely going to be decided town by town throughout the state.

The article notes a few statistics—about 100 or so towns have voted for either a short-term moratorium on fracking, or an outright ban. And about 60 or so towns have voted to “support” drilling. (Shameless self-promotion: MDN’s Marcellus and Utica Shale Databook Vol. 2 has the complete list of which towns have voted which way on the issue.)

But the pure numbers of “100 against, 60 for” does not come anywhere close to telling the whole story…

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Steuben County, NY Landfill Ready to Accept Shale Cuttings

The Steuben County landfill in Bath, NY is now approved and ready to accept “shale cuttings,” or leftover soil and rock that comes from shale gas drilling. They join neighboring Chemung County that has accepted shale cuttings for over a year now, and Allegany County.

Although they don’t expect to receive much in the way of cuttings this year from Pennsylvania drillers because of a slowdown in drilling, Steuben officials want to be ready “just in case” Marcellus drilling in New York ramps up.

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Sierra Club Sues to Stop Water Sales in Steuben County, NY

In March 2012, the village board in Painted Post (Steuben County), NY voted to sell water to Shell for use in fracking operations across the border in Pennsylvania. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) gave its blessing to Painted Post to sell up to 1 million gallons of water day. But the decision doesn’t sit well with anti-drillers.

According to NGI’s Shale Daily, the Sierra Club and several area organizations sued the village board in late June to stop the sale from taking place.

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