Pipeline firm is offering landowners a raw deal » Guest Column » The Daily Star,

Pipeline firm is offering landowners a raw deal » Guest Column » The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY – otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports.

In Village’s Fight Over Gas Drilling, Civility Is Fading – NYTimes.com

In Village’s Fight Over Gas Drilling, Civility Is Fading – NYTimes.com.

Cooperstown Brewer Fights N.Y. Fracking Sought by EOG Resources uom

Cooperstown Brewer Fights N.Y. Fracking Sought by EOG Resources
2011-08-22 04:00:02.1 GMT

By Jim Efstathiou Jr.
Aug. 22 (Bloomberg) — Brewery Ommegang says Belgian ale
and natural gas don¹t mix.
That statement of the obvious matters, the maker of
Aphrodite Ale and Hennepin Farmhouse Saison says, because the
water it draws from aquifers beneath Cooperstown, New York, is
at risk of pollution from hydraulic fracturing.
³Even our strongest beer is 90 percent water, and all of
our water comes off the property,² Larry Bennett, a spokesman
for the brewery about 170 miles (274 kilometers) northwest of
Times Square, said in an interview. ³If you contaminate an
aquifer, it¹s done. There¹s nothing you can do about it.²
Ommegang, an Otsego County tourist attraction along with
the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, has joined a
growing grass-roots campaign in New York state to ban the
technology that has transformed U.S. gas production, Bloomberg
Government reported. The brewery, a unit of Belgium-based Duvel
Moortgat NV, says it would face a ³material threat² from a
leak of fluid used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to free
natural gas from shale.
The state is poised to issue final drilling rules and
permits to tap into the Marcellus Shale formation sometime next
year, after a three-year review. In anticipation, drilling bans
have been put in place in 13 towns and are being debated in 19
more, according to Karen Edelstein, a geographic information-
systems consultant in Ithaca. Ommegang has chipped in $40,000 to
support the towns in Otsego County.

Cuomo¹s Role

³Governor Andrew Cuomo is pressuring regulators to finish
their review and to start issuing permits,² Helen Slottje, an
attorney with the Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc.
in Ithaca who has helped towns opposed to drilling, said in an
interview. Towns are ³increasingly aware of the great burden
gas drilling imposes on communities and are unwilling to bear
those costs,² she said.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said during his campaign last year that
fracking would create jobs, ³but only if it is safe.² Since
taking office in January, he has pushed regulators to complete
their environmental review.
Companies such as EOG Resources Inc., a Houston-based gas
and oil explorer, have leased property in towns that banned
drilling or are working to block it, according to documents on
file with the Otsego County clerk. EOG doesn¹t provide a
breakdown of its lease holdings by state or by county, company
spokeswoman K Leonard said in an e-mail.
Millions of gallons of chemically treated water are forced
underground in fracking to break up rock and let gas flow.
Technological advances led the Energy Department to more than
double its estimate of U.S. shale-gas reserves to 827 trillion
cubic feet and to project that the nation now has enough natural
gas to heat homes and run power stations for 110 years.

Schneiderman Subpoenas

Last week, Range Resources Corp., Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and
Goodrich Petroleum Corp. were subpoenaed by New York Attorney
General Eric Schneiderman over whether they accurately
represented the profitability of their natural-gas wells,
according to a person familiar with the matter. The subpoenas,
sent Aug. 8, requested documents on formulas used to project how
long the wells can produce gas without new fracking.
In Pennsylvania¹s portion of the Marcellus Shale, which
stretches from Tennessee to New York, drilling has created
overnight millionaires from lease payments and gas royalties
paid by companies such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Talisman
Energy Inc.
³I have landowners already under lease,² Scott Kurkoski,
a Binghamton, New York-based lawyer who represents property
owners across the state who favor drilling, said in an
interview. ³They have a contract with a company prepared to
market their minerals, and now towns are taking it away.²

ŒPlenty of Places¹

No local initiatives to ban fracking have been offered in
Tioga, Broome and Chemung counties, which border Pennsylvania
and are potentially gas-rich areas, according to Kurkoski.
³My instinct is that there¹s still plenty of places that
are receptive to drilling and that they¹ll go to those places
first,² Joe Martens, commissioner of New York¹s state
Department of Environmental Conservation, which is drafting
drilling rules, said in an interview. ³That¹s kind of the
responsible approach.²
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying the
effects of fracking on drinking water. A committee advising U.S.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Aug. 11 that gas companies risk
causing serious environmental damage unless they commit to best
practices in engineering.

Produced Safely

Industry groups such as the Hamburg-based Independent Oil &
Gas Association of New York, say shale gas can be produced
safely while generating jobs and tax revenue.
Environmental groups are succeeding in some towns by
raising fears over the technology, according to Richard Downey
of Otego, 76, a retired official with New York City¹s schools.
Downey leads an Otsego County landowner¹s group that supports
fracking in the towns of Unadilla, Butternuts and Otego.
³They have the environmental religion,² Downey said in an
interview. ³They are protecting Gaea — Mother Earth — and
we¹re just protecting property rights, and some money to a
certain extent, and you don¹t get the same passion for that.²
The Marcellus Shale may contain 490 trillion cubic feet of
gas, making it the world¹s second-largest gas field after the
South Pars formation in Iran and Qatar, according to Terry
Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State
University in State College. New York banned fracking until it
completes its environmental rules sometime next year, according
to Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman with the Department of
Environmental Conservation.

Court Challenge

Landowners that have leased property for drilling will
challenge local drilling bans in court on grounds that only the
state can regulate oil and gas production, Kurkoski said.
Slottje said the bans will hold up because zoning rules
aren¹t considered regulation under New York law.
Both sides expect the issue to be decided in the New York
Court of Appeals, the state¹s highest court. Legal maneuvers may
delay drilling in parts of the state for at least a year, said
Eduardo Penalver, who teaches land-use law at Cornell Law School
in Ithaca.
³If a town draws up a generally worded zoning law that
restricts or prohibits categories of activities, and that
encompasses hydrofracking, there¹s a strong argument that that
is not prohibited under state law,² Penalver said in an
interview. ³The power of municipalities to control what you can
do on your land is now pretty deeply entrenched.²
In December, Montreal-based Gastem Inc. used low-volume
fracking, which is permitted in New York, to test a well in
Otsego County where the company has 22,000 acres under lease.
The results ³quite satisfied² the company, spokesman David
Vincent said.
³There¹s always opposition,² Vincent, who predicted the
local drilling bans won¹t succeed, said in an interview. ³If we
do it right, people will accept that.²

ŒThree Philosophers¹

That hasn¹t won over Ommegang, which says it uses about 1
million gallons of water a year to make ales such as ³Three
Philosophers Quadrupel,² described on its website as a blend of
cherries, roasted malts, and dark chocolate that will ³only
achieve more wisdom and coherence as it broods in the dark
recesses of your cellar.²
Ommegang employs 82 people and receives about 40,000
visitors a year for beer tastings and tours, Bennett said. He
said it is named for a festival held in Brussels in 1549 to
commemorate a visit by Charles the Fifth, the Holy Roman
Emperor, and his son Philip II.
The brewery adds prestige to the fight against fracking,
Slottje said.
³Ommegang is one of the largest employers in the area,²
Slottje said. ³They¹re a tourist draw. They sort of exemplify
everything that the Cooperstown area is trying to do.²

For Related News and Information:
Map of U.S. shale basins: BMAP 82555
News on U.S. utilities: TNI UTI US
Natural-gas trading hub prices: NGHB
News about fracturing: STNI FRACKING

–Editors: Larry Liebert, Joe Winski

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jim Efstathiou Jr. in New York at +1-212-617-1647 or

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Larry Liebert at +1-202-624-1936 or

—— End of Forwarded Message

Otsego Town Board Asserts Local Control of Land Use


Fly Creek, NY, 11 May 2010–The Otsego Town Board voted 4-1 tonight to
clarify a long-standing prohibition against heavy industry, including
fracking for natural gas, in the town’s land use law. By this vote the town,
which includes most of the Village of Cooperstown, reaffirmed its home rule
right to prohibit uses not permitted by local ordinances.

Though many towns in New York State have similar limitations on permitted
uses on the books, pro-drilling advocates, pointing out that the gas
industry is exempt from local regulation, have argued that towns have no
authority at all over natural gas extraction.

The Town of Otsego action leaves it to the state’s DEC to regulate gas
drilling when and where it may occur, but reserves the home rule right to
determine in the first place whether such a use should be allowed or
prohibited in the town. In this case the answer was a resounding NO.

It is the first rural town in New York State to explicitly invoke its home
rule authority to block gas drilling as a type of undesirable heavy industry
incompatible with the town’s comprehensive plan. The town acted in response
to the overwhelming sentiment of the enrolled voters in the town opposed to
gas drilling and heavy industry, documented through petitions and surveys as
well as testimony at privilege of the floor and at a public hearing.

A number of other towns in Otsego county and across the state are
contemplating taking similar steps. This grassroots resistance to natural
gas extraction is a remarkable phenomenon. Local citizens are saying no to
fracking for natural gas directly in their communities as too dangerous and
costly and destructive to be tolerated. It is time for state and federal
officials to take notice.



From Jim Endicott

Cooperstown Chamber Opposes Hydrofracking


Hydrofracking for Shale Gas in Otsego County
Feb 11, 2011 Statement by Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce

1. WHEREAS…The gas industry has secured broad exemptions from Federal regulation under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 (the “Halliburton exemption”). Under New York State law, horizontal drilling is now stalled pending completion of a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (dSGEIS), which could be finalized at any time. In the interim, drilling of vertical wells with hydrofracking is proceeding in our County under an outdated 1992 Generic Environmental Impact Statement. Thus, gas companies are now drilling and fracking in our County without substantive local review and both state and federal regulatory investigations into the risks of the process are mired in political delays.

2. WHEREAS…Land-lease development in the region has already reached a high level without any meaningful regulatory control and with limited public awareness of the issues. Over 60,000 acres have already been leased by gas-drilling companies or their land agents and active drilling projects have started in Otsego County (principally by Gastem, a Canadian lease/exploration company).

3. WHEREAS…The relative contribution of natural gas from hydrofracking to either the economy or the energy needs of the region is minimal and development does not materially contribute to a sustainable national or regional energy policy.

4. WHEREAS…The number of documented spills, blowouts, leaking wells and other environmental accidents is significant and the environmental and human consequences have been serious in a number of states, including TX, PA, WY, and WV.

5. WHEREAS…The withdrawal of huge quantities of fresh water estimated at 2-5 million gallons of water per frack cycle and the heavy impact of thousands of truck trips per well hauling water and chemicals to and from the drill pads on loca infrastructure cannot be sustained in Otsego County. Effective technologies for the treatment of the millions of gallons of polluted processing waste do not exist and there are no locations for waste disposal in New York capable of supporting the proposed scale of drilling.

6. WHEREAS…The most critical threat to the local area is contamination of the aquifers and surface water resources found directly above the Marcellus shale. Current plans for drilling present a strategic risk to the entire Otsego County water supply and the Susquehanna watershed. The New York City watershed has already been protected, which represents the clearest evidence that NY State already understands a potential risk.

7. WHEREAS…On Jan 1, 2011, NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo continued 2010 Executive order 41 (issued by past Governor David Paterson) directing the NY DEC to publish a revised draft SGEIS, accept public comment on the revisions, and schedule public hearings on the revisions. The order says no horizontal hydrofracking permits may be issued prior to the completion of a final SGEIS. This is in effect a moratorium on any new horizontal hydrofracking drilling, but does not stop vertical hydrofracking drilling, nor does it stop further land leasing, seismic testing, or other actions that may lead to future drilling.

The plans for drilling pose a direct and material threat to the interests of the Chamber membership. Industrial-scale hydrofracking in the upstate region will irreparably damage the essential qualities that make the Cooperstown area an excellent place to live, raise families, farm and work. It puts at risk much of the local economy, ranging from hotel and tourism to restaurant and retail businesses, most of which are driven by the hundreds of thousands of tourists who choose to visit the region every year.