Drilling and the DEC: Responding to Economic Impacts Oct. 15, Ithaca, 1-3:30

Drilling and the DEC: Responding to Economic Impacts
Free, public forum 

Saturday, October 15, 2011
1:00 – 3:30 p.m., Women’s Community Building
100 W. State Street, Ithaca, NY
Grassroots activists, experts, and local officials concerned about protecting our local agriculture and tourism economies, community character, roads and infrastructure, will offer information on the revised Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS).  Speakers will address the portion of proposed drilling guidelines that intends to mitigate adverse social and economic impacts such as truck traffic, threats to food crops, and demand on local services.
Panel Moderator:
Martha Robertson, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature
Ed Marx, Tompkins County Commissioner of Planning
Jannette Barth, Ph.D., Economist, Pepacton Institute
Barbara Lifton, NY State Assemblywoman for Tompkins and Cortland Counties
James (Chip) Northrup, Partner and investor in oil and gas projects, served on Governor of Texas’ Energy Advisory Council
Wes Gillingham (invited, not confirmed), Program Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper
The NY DEC hired a consulting firm, Ecology and Environment, to assist in analyzing social and economic impacts.  Join us for this event to learn what’s better about the new sGEIS, what concerns remain, and what are some recommendations for the DEC.
Attendees will be encouraged to submit comments on the newly revised SGEIS to the DEC.  Instruction on how to use online formatting and informational links will be provided and made available widely afterwards.
This event will be videotaped and available through the internet at www.shaleshockmedia.org several days following the meeting.
The forum is sponsored by numerous local organizations including:
Shaleshock Action Alliance  *  ROUSE (Residents Opposing Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction)  *  DRAC (Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition)  *  Cayuga Lake Watershed Network  *  Social Justice Committee, First Unitarian Church of Ithaca  *  ENSAW (Enfield Neighbors for Safe Air and Water)  *  NYRAD  *  Groton Resource Awareness Coalition  *  Sustainable Tompkins  *  Committee on Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation, Ithaca First Presbyterian Church  *  Concerned Citizens of Ulysses  *  FLEASED  *  Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation  *  GDACC (Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County)  *  People for a Healthy Environment  *
For more information contact Martha Robertson: mrob@twcny.rr.com,
Hilary Lambert: hilary_lambert@yahoo.com, Sara Hess: sarahess63@yahoo.com.

Senator Ball Int818 -SOT.wmv – YouTube

CTW Ball Int818 -SOT.wmv – YouTube.

‪HRW trip to Pa to see Hydrofracking – entire interview 7 18 11‬‏ – YouTube

‪HRW trip to Pa to see Hydrofracking – entire interview 7 18 11‬‏ – YouTube.  Hydro Relief Web

On July 16th 2011, a group of people from Oneida County, New York drove to Bradford County, Pennsylvania to see the process of Hydrofracking for themselves. The trip was organized by Hydro Relief Web
Three of the people who attended (Toshia Hance Bonnie Jones Reynolds and Carleton Corey) were later interviewed by Reporter/Anchor Gary Liberatore from WKTV news Channel 2. This video is the extended form of that interview.

Reporting that Tonawanda resident that the local newspaper has told her not to write anymore letters to the editor about hydrofracking because the paper will not print them.

Shale Force–Syracuse New Times July 20, 2011

Shale Force.

Shale Force

By Ed Griffin-Nolan  

Bill Fischer moved to Central New York last year to get away from the noise and the risks of hydrofracking near his home in Pennsylvania. He has a simple message for people in Central New York about natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale: “It’s coming, whether you like it or not, so you better be ready.

Relocated here from northern Pennsylvania, Bill Fischer considers himself a fugitive from hydrofrackingBy Ed Griffin-Nolan

Bill Fischer moved to Central New York last year to get away from the noise and the risks of hydrofracking near his home in Pennsylvania. He has a simple message for people in Central New York about natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale: “It’s coming, whether you like it or not, so you better be ready.”

In the basement of the house in DeWitt that Fischer and his wife, Debbie, just bought hangs a framed picture of the home they left behind in rural northeast Pennsylvania. Seen in the aerial photograph the house sits on the edge of a lake that measures 92 acres surrounded by lush forest. Silver Lake, near Brackney, Pa., 14 miles of back roads south of Binghamton, was home to the Fischers for 13 years, until the advent of hydrofracking convinced them it was time to leave.

Fischer is a 64-year-old former New York state trooper who has the mind of a detective and speaks with the authority of a judge.

Since 1980, when a tangle with a suspect led to his early retirement with a disability, he has run his own private investigative firm, William Fischer Forensic Consulting, specializing in the reconstruction of crime scenes. He enlisted in the Marines during Vietnam, serving his time mostly in the Mediterranean.

Sitting on the three-season porch of his new home on a cul de sac just a few blocks from the spot where East Genesee Street crosses under Interstate 481, his aging golden retriever Nellie at his feet, Fischer describes the idyllic scene he left behind just south of the New York-Pennsylvania line. At regular intervals he interrupts himself to talk of his recent passion: long, early summer bike rides through southern Onondaga County. Recounting mornings spent cycling through the hills of Jamesville and Pompey and past the dairy farms of Fabius, Fischer sounds like a man who has discovered a new love late in life. But when he talks about the place he left behind, a wistful sadness emerges in his voice.

“We lived on State Route 167, 100 feet from the road, and 500 feet from the lake,” he says. “It was a quiet country road. I could sit on my porch and watch five eagles fishing the lake.”

Last November, all that changed as Williams Oil Company set up shop to drill for natural gas. Like much of New York’s Southern Tier and a large swath of Pennsylvania, Silver Lake sits atop a rock formation so packed with fossilized vaporized energy that it is frequently referred to as the Saudi Arabia of natural gas. The race to get the gas out of the ground and into a pipeline changed Bill Fischer’s life forever.

“Sixty trucks an hour came by the house, 10 hours a day, for three weeks. Every time they came to the top of the hill they downshifted, sending up a puff of diesel that cooled and then settled back down right in my front yard. That was just to put in the pad. The pad was a mile and a half from the house, directly across from Salt Springs State Park. They planned to place 10 wells on the pad.”

That subterranean rock formation—the Marcellus Shale—is what we share with the people of Susquehanna County, Pa., the place Fischer left behind. The shale is either a blessing or a curse, depending on who you speak with. For Fischer, it depends on how we handle it and, he reminds us, it’s not going away any time soon.

The gas entombed by the Marcellus Shale sits thousands of feet below the earth and the only technology yet discovered that can exhume it—high volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short)—brings with it heavy baggage. Fracking involves shooting millions of gallons of pressurized water and sand, laced with chemicals, into the formation. While fracking breaks up the shale and forces the gas up, questions of where all the water will come from, how it will be altered by its use in the process, and what will be done with it afterward remain unanswered. And that’s just for starters.

The Marcellus Shale has the potential to power the Northeast for a generation or more, and to turn the area’s last unspoiled landscapes into industrial wasteland. Royalties from gas drilling can fund our schools and social services and erase our crushing deficits, while creating water and air pollution from which we might never recover. It can divide neighbor from neighbor, upstate from downstate, while bringing an upstate revival that will allow aging families to remain in their homes and even bring young people back to the region. You pick.

At the Crossroads

These and many other concerns are addressed in a massive document that you can read online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/75370. html (Please don’t print it out unless you really hate trees). It’s the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation’s answer to the Tolkien trilogy, entitled the Preliminary Revised Draft of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS).

The report suggests how New York state proposes to govern fracking in the Marcellus Shale, and it tweaks the earlier draft GEIS first released in 2009, responding to the more than 13,000 comments made on that tome. The new report is open for public comment from now through September.

Pressure from legislators has led to a moratorium on fracking that is set to expire this month, and politicians in both Central New York and New York City have persuaded the DEC to declare both the Skaneateles and the Catskill watersheds, which feed water to the Salt City and the Big Apple, respectively, offlimits. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is also conducting a review of the impact of fracking nationwide, and there is pressure in Albany to extend the moratorium until the EPA releases its findings, probably not for at least another year.

Public sentiment runs high against the procedure, even as local landowners continue to sign leases giving companies the right to drill on their land.

Bill Fischer, the bike-riding former cop, comes to us with his simple, fatalistic message. “They’re not gonna stop this industry,” he concedes. “In our area the grass-roots was building up, but the industry was rolling over everybody. There’s just too much money in it.”

In his case the gas company was allowed to drill in spite of his exhaustive organizing efforts. Fischer had banded together with neighbors to form a Silver Lake Watershed Legal Defense Fund. They petitioned the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to declare their watershed “exceptional” and entitled to special protection.

“They designated 52 acres along the Silver Creek as ‘exceptional quality,’ which means no surface water contamination would be allowed,” says Fischer. “We thought that ruled out hydrofracking because of the possibility of leaks contaminating the surface water—but there’s no enforcement.” They went to the Public Utility Commission and won a ruling denying Laser Marcellus Gathering Company, a gas company, the use of eminent domain to take control of land to build a pipeline, only to see the commission reverse the recommendation.

“We saw the handwriting on the wall,” he continues. “It was a risk to stay. Long before this my wife and I understood, based on policies coming out of Harrisburg, that industrial development was going to be allowed, and this {their home in Silver Lake} would no longer be the place we thought it would be. We put the house up for sale and found a buyer in three days.

“Anyone who says, ‘no way, no how, not here’ is not being realistic. It’s not about stopping it; it’s about guiding it in a responsible way. This will necessarily go through in both northern Pennsylvania and southern New York state. The difference will be the amount of profit that will go from the public to foreign corporations.

“Do we develop this for the benefit of the public or for a few people? This is a public resource: The public is entitled to the profits. Here’s a state that’s going bankrupt, and you’ve got a huge amount of wealth that’s being taken to Texas {where many of the drilling companies are located} for the asking. Rather than close schools and programs,” he offers, “use the tax revenue from this industry to revive the state.”

In His Opinion

So how do you make it work for the people? Fischer rattles off policy options covering everything from the macroeconomic level down to engineering basics.

• “Every time they put a hole in the ground in the Marcellus Shale they’re making money,” he says, referring to the oil companies. “There’s so much gas that there’s almost no risk, and the certainty of gas sucks capital out of the market for all renewable energy sources.”

• “Why risk your capital investing in solar or wind when there’s so much money to be made drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale? The only thing that can change that is government policy.”

• “There are things that New York state can do. The gas industry uses public air, water and roads. You can say, ‘This is a public resource and it is to be used for public wealth, to be shared.’ Like they do in Saudi Arabia, like they did in Alaska. This is seen by some as too socialistic. So if you don’t like that, change the permitting process.”

• “Instead of setting a permit price by the depth of the well, put those permits up for auction. Let the market determine the value. And only issue the number of permits that you can supervise. How many wells can you supervise for three shifts a day, seven days a week? Gas companies drill 24/7; we can’t have inspectors who go home at 5 p.m.”

In addition, Fischer suggests that a meter be placed on every well to measure the amount of flowback fluid coming back up from the shale. Right now he worries that the lack of measurement of returning fluid gives unscrupulous companies an incentive to dump their toxic wastewater. If it were metered, the company would have to account for the disposal of each and every gallon. In addition, he suggests, add a chemical tag to each well so that any wastewater found dumped illegally could be traced back to the well operator. Better yet, he says, have the state take charge of all wastewater and process it—for a hefty fee.

While Fischer came here to get away from the hydrofracking controversy and to be closer to family—three of his four children live locally, as do two grandchildren—the struggle for the heart of gasland seems determined to follow him. At a community forum in Fabius in May he was introduced as a “refugee from hydrofracking”; more recently he was part of a delegation visiting state Sen. David Valesky (D-Oneida) to talk on the issue.

“The decision to sell our house wasn’t to come up here. Once we decided to move, this was the logical place to come. There were a lot of tears shed over this, and a lot of secondguessing. I will be second-guessing myself until I die.”

As for Central New York, he says that they are here for good. “We love it here. We’re staying.”

Gas companies, beware. There’s a cop on your tail.


Video of Vestal GasCapades June 22, 2011

Thanks to Jeff and Jodi Andrysick, Weston Wilson, Tara Meixsell, and Rick Roles for travelling a long way to present their personal experiences and knowledge of the impact of hydraulic fracturing, and to Don Glauber for calming things down when some of the audience started to get rowdy.  Videos are now online of the entire event, including the at-times confrontational question-and-answer session.  Links to the videos are below.


GasCapades – Introduction and Jeff and Jodi Andrysick

GasCapades – Weston Wilson

GasCapades – Tara Meixsell

GasCapades – Rick Roles

GasCapades – Conclusion with Jeff and Jodi Andrysick

GasCapades – Question and Answer Session

Cornell Expert Says Hydrofacking Already Affecting New York State

(Released June 23, 2011 at 8:03 PM)

Cornell Expert Says Hydrofacking Already Affecting New York State

Reflecting on lessons learned and questions yet to be answered about the hydrofracking and the economy, a Cornell expert today told members of the Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) that New York State is already being affected by such shale gas drilling, even though wells are not yet permitted here.
Economic Geographer Susan Christopherson, of Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning, has been studying the economic effects of hydrofracking, looking at the experience in nearby Pennsylvania and effects in New York.  Since there is “no border fence between New York and Pennsylvania,” she said, drilling produces a regional industrial effect, and cautioned there will be “important impacts to Tompkins County”—from such aspects as heavy truck traffic, water resources, and waste disposal— even if a single well is not drilled here.  She maintained State officials are showing “willful ignorance and disinterest” in failing to  address those issues and, because of that, the state is unprepared.
Based on her own research and review of other studies, Christopherson reported findings including the following:
  • The Elmira area is already feeling pressure on its housing stock and is experiencing some increase in sales tax revenue.
  • In Pennsylvania, jobs are being created, but impact is inflated since measures are based on new hires, not permanent jobs, with only 70% going to in-state residents.  She predicted employment growth here would be “modest,” with several hundred of the best jobs created for functions such as well monitoring when drilling is in process, but a significant decline once it’s completed.
  • Other industries will be affected, with tourism and the dairy industry most affected in PA.
Among questions that remain to be answered, according to Christopherson:
  • How long the drilling phase will last.  Where, when, and how many wells are drilled, she said, will be affected by natural gas prices, currently too low to make much drilling economically viable—the more wells that are drilled, and the faster they’re drilled, the greater the impact.
  • How the federal government’s recent approval of export of natural gas will affect gas prices.
  • Information on who owns land currently in PA and where proceeds from royalty payments are spent.
Christopherson said a New York State severance tax could help support costs related to shale gas drilling, and that such taxes exist in most states where such extraction takes place.  She said the level of such taxes varies widely state-to-state, as does the extent to which that tax is distributed to municipalities.  She assessed the 3% severance tax being proposed by some in New York State, however, as inadequate to meet the need.
Media contact:  TCCOG Co-Chair:  Ithaca Town Supervisor Herb Engman, 607-273-1721.
Marcia E. Lynch
Public Information Officer
Tompkins County
125 E. Court Street
Ithaca, NY  14850

Gas drilling debated, discussed in Norwich June 16, 2011

Gas drilling debated, discussed in Norwich

By: Melissa deCordova, Sun Staff Writer (Evening Sun)
Published: June 17th, 2011

NORWICH – Yesterday afternoon’s meeting of a regional natural gas group to discuss government regulations on road use and pipeline infrastructure went off without a hitch despite a large crowd of anti-gas drilling activists who attended and later proceeded to rally in West Park afterwards.

The approximately 85 attendees at the County Office Building meeting were given a set of guidelines and asked to sit in designated areas for government officials, department directors, regulators, the general public and the press. Following a presentation from four speakers, Chenango County’s economic development consultant within the natural gas industry, Steven Palmatier fielded questions first from municipal leaders and from the public second.

Responding to a question from Adrian Kuzminski, moderator for a network of environmental Otsego County activists, who suggested that the group should be discussing the dangers of hydraulic fracturing and threats to the state’s drinking water supplies, Palmatier said the meeting was “not intended nor ever intended to be a debate of hydraulic fracturing.”

“We are dealing with the regulatory structure for our county to deal with the natural gas industry we have and to prepare for what we could have in the future,” he said.

Coventry resident Kim Michels asked about right-of-way set backs and surface and subsurface rights, particularly as they pertained to a natural gas pipeline company currently seeking a franchise in the towns of Sidney, Bainbridge and Coventry. A planning consultant, Chris Kale, asked about New York Department of Environmental Conservation set back requirements that she said don’t comply with Federal Housing Administration title insurance requirements and is causing problems in the secondary mortgage market.

At the rally, Kuzminski characterized the multi-county meeting as “outrageous” and told the about 40 in attendance, “I hope you don’t let them get away with that.”

“It’s important to work on the federal level, important to work on these issues in Albany, but we probably aren’t going to get bailed out by either. The only place to make things happen is on the ground level, through grassroots efforts like this. We have leverage at the local level,” he said.

Other speakers called for a complete ban on high water volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a 60-year-old energy stimulation technology that uses high-pressure water mixed with chemicals and sand to crack open shale formations.

Town of McDonough Supervisor Arrington Canor, one of eight elected officials who attended the Regional meeting, said not knowing the facts about natural gas drilling is making people afraid.

“We aren’t here to argue. We officials need to know what the rules are and how we can work within them. It’s the only industry that we have that is promising jobs. We’re not hear to argue. We’re here to get the facts,” he said.

One of the meetings speakers, Gregory H. Sovas, of XRM, LLC, said the practice would require very minimal land disturbance. He pointed to the estimated 15,000 to 18,000 jobs that would be generated in the Southern Tier by 2015 if the state allows gas companies to drill into the massive Marcellus Shale formation.

“I get emotional even thinking about the landowner. Who is speaking up for them? I get emotional when others tell landowners what to do with their land,” he said.

The pending natural gas industry is also expected to result in $11.4 billion in economic output by 2020 and $1.4 billion in tax revenues for state and local governments over the next nine years.

The DEC is preparing to release an environmental impact statement in July that would outline new permit guidelines for natural gas exploration using horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracture stimulation.

Caroline Council Tables Resolution

The Marcellus Effect: Caroline Council Tables Resolution.

Video by Cris McConkey.  CC Attribution/Non-commercial. Playlist duration ~ 3-1/2 hrs: Rally; Privilege of the Floor and Reading of Resolutions; Presentations; Public Hearing; Vote on the resolutions.  Downloads.

Brooktondale Community Center, June 14, 2011

Two hundred or more people attended a Caroline Town Board meeting about a resolution to prohibit the Town from taking any action to enact a ban on hydraulic fracturing. Two of the three proponents of this resolution (Toby McDonald and Pete Hoyt) have gas leases and a third (Linda Adams) is the head of the Tompkins County Landowners Coalition. Of the 40 people who spoke, 35 were against the ban and 5 were for it. Since the resolution was apparently in response to the news that local citizens had gathered more than 900 signatures on a petition asking the Town Board to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Town, many people stated their anger that the board was trying to stifle democracy. Many pointed out the conflict of interest issue, as well, and some asked board members with conflicts to recuse themselves from any vote on this issue. Another theme was the preservation of Caroline as a safe, tranquil community. People asked the Town Attorney, Guy Krogh, and Town Board not to put the avoidance of a lawsuit higher than protecting residents. Guy Krogh indicated that a ban might be possible if crafted carefully and thoughtfully after much analysis of state law. Most of the speakers did a very good job of voicing the concerns of Caroline residents who were dismayed that this resolution popped up on June 7. Local attorney David Slottje, of the Community Environmental Defense Council, spoke eloquently and passionately against the resolution. It was tabled at about 10:45 PM.


Supervisor Barber opens Priviledge of the Floor; Comment on resolution before board in support of New York State Senata and Assembly bills S.3472 and A.3245 “home rule” 0m0s
Comment regarding statement made by town’s attorney at the April 12th board meeting in regard to Adams’ and Hoyt’s resolution. 2m36s
Response by Councillor Hoyt and reading of pertinent parts of the minutes which were not approved in a timely fashion to notify the public. 4m41s
Reading of resolution is support of 90-day public comment period after DEC promulgates new rules upon completion of its review of the SGEIS follwed by discussion and vote. 8m8s
Introductory remarks regarding Public Hearing 12m24s
Reading of resoution “Clarifying the town’s role regarding gas development based on current Environmental Conservation Law” 18m02s
Reading of Resolution in support of A.3245 / S.3472 19m15s


Linda Adams, Town Councillor 0m0s
Bill Podulka, Resident and Chair, Residents Opposed to Unsafe Shale-Gas Extraction (ROUSE) 3m51s
David Slottje, Attorney with Community Environmental Defense Council 12m49s
Guy Krogh, Attorney for Town of Caroline 26m18s

1-9 Public addresses Caroline Town Board

1 Pat Brhel 1m47s
2 Sandy Podulka 4m25s
3 Jim Raponi 7m40s
4 Ann Boehm 9m52s
5 Bendidt Pauli 13m44s
6 Anna Gibson 18m31s
7 Elisa Evett 19m56s
7a Councillor Linda Adams 23m57s
8 Karen L. Allaben 26m06s
9 Rita Rosenberg 28m20s

10-18 Public addresses Caroline Town Board

10 Kim Knight 0m0s
11 Irene Weiser 2m12s
12 Todd Schmit 7m02s
13 Tony Tavelli 9m32s
14 Bruce Murray 14m33s
15 Rebecca Dewit 17m05s
16 Michele Brown 20m42s
17 David Kauber 22m20s representing Steve Kress & Elissa Wolfson
18 Nelly Farnum, former Town Councillor 25m36s

19-27 Public addesses Caroline Town Board

19 Jonathan Comstock 0m0s
20 Bert Cooley 3m37s
21 Mary Alyce Kabler 10m52s
22 Leanne Avery 14m25s
23 James Burlitch 17m46s
24 Elliot Swarthout 20m01s
25 John Reed 21m30s
26 Frank Verret 22m14s
27 John Confer 26m16s

28-39 Public addresses Caroline Board

28 Sue PK 0m0s incomplete
29 Milt Taam 1m51s
30 Cyrus Umrigar 5m12s
31 Glen Robertson 9m13s
32 Picilla Timberlake 10m28s
33 Aaron Snow 13m12s
34 Bob Andeson 14m55s incomplete
35 Barbara Lynch 15m34s
36 Ellen Harrison 16m57s
37 Phillip Shapiro 20m20s
38 Bill Crispell 22m31s
39 Beth Hollier 25m09s

Public Discussion on Resolutions and Vote by Board duration: 18m57s


Six new bills introduced by Assemblywoman Lifton 6/15/2011

Six Bills Submitted by Lifton to NYS Assembly on 6/15/2011


1.  Require filing within 30 days

2.  Require lease filing in entirety

3.  Plain language phrases

4.  Notice when leases are assigned

5.  Establish clearinghouse

6.  Require signatures of both parties


1. TITLE OF BILL: Requires oil, gas or mineral land lease to be recorded within thirty days of execution.

PURPOSE: To amend the real property law, in relation to requiring oil, gas or mineral land leases to be recorded within thirty days of execution.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill amends section 291 of the real property law, requiring that any conveyance of real property within New York State which is an oil, gas, or mineral land lease shall be recorded within thirty days from execution of the lease.

EXISTING LAW: Section 291 of the real property law.

 JUSTIFICATION: Faced with increasing amounts of real estate property in New York that is subject to an oil, gas or mineral land lease, the housing and mortgage markets depend more than ever on timely and accurate information about lease agreements. Proper assessment and valuation of property is integral to the mortgage lending process, and for selling one’s home. However, reports from assessors and real estate agents indicate that gas companies which hold a lease interest have been delaying in recording their lease agreements with the relevant county clerk’s offices. Often the delays in filing have been upwards of six months to a year after execution of an agreement. Lack of information about a parcel’s lease terms, and the possibility of a lease on neighboring properties, have already been gravely impacting the mortgage and real estate markets. Establishing a thirty day requirement for recording of such lease agreements provides ample time for a leaseholder to comply without arbitrarily and capriciously impacting the housing market.


2. TITLE OF BILL: Relates to excluding oil, gas or mineral land leases from leases that may be recorded by memorandum of lease.

PURPOSE: To amend the real property law, in relation to excluding oil, land or mineral land leases from leases that may be recorded by memorandum of lease.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill excludes oil, gas, and mineral leases from the option to record a memorandum of lease at a county clerk’s office, requiring that a lease, in its entirety, be filed and available for public review.


EXISTING LAW: Section 291-c of the real property law.

 JUSTIFICATION: Often, after executing an oil, gas, or mineral lease in New York State, the lessee will record a “memorandum of lease” with the relevant county clerk’s office. Such a memorandum provides only the bare minimum of information for public review about each specific lease agreement. Accordingly, the real estate industry in counties that have many oil and gas leases, which have increased exponentially over the past several years due to the possibility of shale gas extraction in the Marcellus play, has been greatly affected. Residential property valuation can be heavily dependent upon the specific terms of an oil, gas, or mineral lease. Notably, the duration of a lease, any easements or surface rights granted to a lessee, among other concerns, can directly impact a property’s value. Also, the existence of a lease on one’s land, or even on neighboring property given the lending institutions’ setback requirements, can impair the viability of a home to be eligible for title insurance or a mortgage. This is critical information for valuation of real property; therefore, the exact terms of a lease must be available to both assessors and lending institutions.

3. TITLE OF BILL: Requires a certain statement to be included in all oil, gas or mineral leases.

PURPOSE: To amend the general obligations law, in relation to requiring a certain statement to be included in all oil, gas or mineral leases.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill adds subdivision 5-a to section 5-333 of the general obligations law, requiring that a plain language phrase explaining the possible risks to property value and to the ability to obtain a mortgage on a home with an oil or gas lease appear in all oil and gas leases executed on or after January 1, 2012.


EXISTING LAW: Section 5-333 of the general obligations law.

 JUSTIFICATION: New York State is experiencing exponential growth in the amount of land that is leased for oil, gas or mineral extraction, due to the possibility of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale play. An issue that has recently come to light, with the increasing frequency of leases across upstate NY, is the potential impact of a lease upon one’s property value and upon the ability to obtain a mortgage. Most landowners are unaware at the time they sign a lease that long-term impacts to their property interests could result. This legislation seeks to provide consumer protection for landowners, providing notice of possible adverse impacts.


4. TITLE OF BILL: Relates to notice requirements for assigning oil, gas or mineral land leases.

PURPOSE: To amend the general obligations law, in relation to notice requirements for assigning oil, gas or mineral land leases.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill amends general obligations law, requiring that after January 1st 2012, the lessee or assignee must provide written notice to the landowner of any such assignment, and provide the names and addresses of such assignees to the current landowner.


EXISTING LAW: Subdivisions 5 and 6 of section 5-333 of the general obligations law.

5. TITLE OF BILL: Relates to establishing an oil, gas or mineral land leases clearinghouse.

PURPOSE: To amend the executive law and the real property law, in relation to establishing an oil, gas or mineral land leases clearinghouse.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill amends executive and real property law in relation to establishing an oil, gas or mineral land leases clearinghouse within the Department of State, to allow for the collection and maintenance of all such leases in physical and/or electronic form.


EXISTING LAW: Section 291-cc of the real property law; section 100-a of the executive law.

JUSTIFICATION: New York State is experiencing exponential growth in the amount of land that is leased for oil, gas or mineral extraction, due to the possibility of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale play. As the number and density of leases increase, the complexity of navigating the implications for real estate assessment, and the effect upon the ability of a landowner to obtain a mortgage, also becomes much more difficult to gauge. Knowing what properties have leases, the specific terms of a lease, and whether New York citizens are able to buy and sell homes in our state is of compelling state and integral to the establishment of a state regulatory program for oil, gas and mineral extraction. Since the state takes the position that it is the sole regulator of natural resource extraction industries they ought to have clear and uniform records with regard to the mortgage lending industy, local assessments, and New Yorkers’ property value.

6. TITLE OF BILL: Requires signatures of both parties to record a modification, extension or renewal of an oil, gas or mineral land lease.

PURPOSE: To amend the real property law, in relation to requiring signatures of both parties to a lease to record a modification, extension or renewal of an oil, gas or mineral land lease.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The bill adds a new provision to real property law in relation to the recording of a modification, extension or renewal of an oil, gas, or mineral lease, requiring that such modification, extension or renewal be duly acknowledged by both parties to a lease.


EXISTING LAW: Section 291-cc of the real property law.

 JUSTIFICATION: County clerks across New York State have increasingly, over the past year or so, been presented with oil, gas and mineral lease extensions which bear only the signature of a representative of the lessee company which has acquired a mineral interest. The unilateral extensions are delivered by couriers who operate on behalf of the lessee company who report that the landowners at issue have been notified of their lease extension. However, without a duly-acknowledged signature of both parties to a lease, there is no way for a county clerk to verify that a landowner has knowledge of the extension. In fact, landowners have reported that they were unaware of lease extension on their property. This legislation will clarify that a valid lease extension or modification must require the signature of both parties.



Greg Palast on Condoleezza Rice teaming up with Chevron « Dandelion Salad

Greg Palast on Condoleezza Rice teaming up with Chevron « Dandelion Salad.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Chevron, and a think tank have teamed up to launch a new project to look at how to promote “economic development, livelihoods, and reduce poverty worldwide.” This, from an oil company that refused to pay an $8.6 billion court-ordered payout for poisoning the Ecuadorian amazon rainforest, which led to the deaths of 1400 people.