Tag Archives: New York

Victory! Albany, NY bars tar sands processing expansion

By Mary Esch, March 12, 2014. Source: Associated Press

Railroad oil tanker cars lined up at Global Partners at the Port of Albany, N.Y. Albany County has issued a moratorium on expansion of crude oil processing at the Port of Albany on the Hudson River, pending a public health investigation. The order issued Wednesday, March 12, 2014 says Global Partners' plan to heat rail tankers of dense crude to liquefy the contents has raised questions about potential public health hazards. Photo: Mike Groll, AP

Railroad oil tanker cars lined up at Global Partners at the Port of Albany, N.Y. Albany County has issued a moratorium on expansion of crude oil processing at the Port of Albany on the Hudson River, pending a public health investigation. The order issued Wednesday, March 12, 2014 says Global Partners’ plan to heat rail tankers of dense crude to liquefy the contents has raised questions about potential public health hazards. Photo: Mike Groll, AP

ALBANY, N.Y. — The expansion of crude oil processing at the Hudson River Port of Albany, which has become a major hub for rail shipments of volatile North Dakota crude to coastal refineries in the last two years, will be halted by a moratorium issued Wednesday by Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.

The order requires a health impact study by the county before Waltham, Mass.-based Global Partners is allowed to add facilities to heat rail cars to liquefy thick crude like that mined in western Canada’s tar sands. That plan, along with Global’s major increase in rail shipments through the city, has drawn intense criticism from port-area residents, environmental groups and local politicians.

“Big Oil is accustomed to getting its way, and today’s action could be the first of its kind in the country which signals to the industry they cannot ride roughshod over our communities without consequence,” Environmental Advocates Executive Director Peter Iwanowicz said. Continue reading

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New York’s zoning ban movement fracks big gas

By Ellen Cantarow, May 9 2013. Source: Truthout

Photo: CREDO.fracking / Flickr

Photo: CREDO.fracking / Flickr

On Thursday, May 2, New York State’s Appellate Court upheld the right of two townships - the Tompkins County town of Dryden and the Otsego County town of Middlefield - to use their zoning laws to ban gas drilling. This includes high-volume hydraulic fracturing, during which millions of gallons of sand-and-chemical-laced water are propelled into deep shale rock to force out the methane it contains. Last week’s decision defeated corporate challenges to the state’s constitutional home rule provision, under which local ordinances trump state laws.

If you haven’t been following New York State’s astonishing grassroots battle against fracking, the foregoing may seem humdrum. But in fact it represents a victory wrenched by unknown grassroots activists from giants of the fossil-fuel industry. While the corporations defeated in last week’s judgment are only two in number, the entire industry has had its eyes on New York State, which has become the epicenter of an international struggle against unconventional gas. (By “unconventional gas” I mean not only the drilling method, but the vast infrastructure that is metastasizing from hundreds of thousands of fracking wells into America’s rural countrysides.)

For decades, the mightiest industries in corporate history have lusted for the methane in the Marcellus Shale, the huge rocky sprawl that ripples far beneath New York and three contiguous East Coast states. Unlike Pennsylvania, where drilling began as early as 2005, New York passed a moratorium on fracking in 2009 (it holds to date). Under that umbrella, tiny groups of organizers in Otsego County, about 80 miles southeast of Syracuse on Otsego Lake, and Dryden, 100 miles west of Otsego near Ithaca, began eyeing zoning as a way of banning gas drilling. Even if the moratorium were lifted, bans on drilling within townships could halt the industry at the grass roots.
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Cuomo admin: ‘No timetable’ on fracking decision

May 1 2013. Source: Associated Press

Photo: AP Photo

Photo: AP Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. — Months ago, the Cuomo administration promised a decision within weeks on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Now, one of the key officials says there’s “no timetable” for a decision.

“It’s kind of like shooting at a moving target,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, the state health commissioner.

He said he had recently met with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Marcellus Institute, which is based in Pennsylvania where hydrofracking is well underway. The institute aggregates mainstream and trade news and “is committed to providing unfiltered information and analysis organized for business examination and decision support,” according to its website. Continue reading

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Sandra Steingraber, 11 others arrested at Inergy gas storage facility in New York

March 19, 2013. Source: Observer Review & Express


The Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department arrested 12 protesters for trespassing at the entrance to Inergy Midstream’s facility off State Route 14 on the western shore of Seneca Lake, Monday, March 18. Later that afternoon, some 100 people attended an anti-Inergy rally at the Watkins Glen Seneca Harbor Park.

Nearly 25 demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Inergy owned facility, starting around 10 a.m. Monday, to protest Inergy’s plans to build a liquid petroleum gas storage facility and proposed expansion of natural gas storage in salt caverns. Authorities on the scene arrested 12 protesters for trespassing, including Seneca Lake residents and college students.

According to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department the people were: Marjorie K. Rodgers, 58, Elmira; Richard F. Jones, 64, Belfast; Michael E. Dineen, 64, Ovid; Melissa A. Chipman, 55, Hector; James Amato Borra, 64, Hector; Katarina Anya Anderson, 23, Ithaca; Kathleen C. Alvey, 22, Ithaca; Sandra K. Steingraber, 53, Trumansburg; Jack D. Ossont, 69, Himrod; Darmaye L. Marley, 53, Hector; Nathanael Tenorio Miller, 26, Ithaca; and Dennis James Fox, 20, Middle Island. Those arrested were issued appearance tickets to appear in the town of Reading court at a later date.

Many of the people arrested attended the afternoon rally in Watkins Glen, including speaker Steingraber, a Hector resident and biologist. At the rally, Steingraber said Seneca Lake is used by more than 100,000 people as a source of drinking water. She said the proposed gas storage projects are a threat to that resource. Steingraber added, “nothing is more important.”

“There’s no other lake like this in the world,” she said.
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NY Assembly passes two year fracking moratorium, Senate expected to follow

By Steve Horn, March 6 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog

Photo: DeSmog Blog

Photo: DeSmog Blog

In a roll call vote of 95-40, the New York State Assembly has passed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drilling process through which oil and gas is procured that’s found within shale rock basins across the country and the world.

The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed off by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would close the state’s doors to the oil and gas industry’s desire to begin operating in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale basin until May 2015. New York has had a moratorium on the books since 2008.

This is the third time the Assembly has passed such a bill, with similar moratorium bills passing in 2010 and 2011, but then dying a slow death in the Senate and never reaching the Governor’s desk, meaning the de facto moratorium has remained in place.

Could the third time be a charm in 2013 in the Empire State? Continue reading


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New York Fracking: Towns Defend Bans As Gov. Cuomo Considers Lifting Moratorium


By Lynne Peeples, February 11, 2013. Source: Huffington Post

Natural Gas, frackingBrewery Ommegang of upstate New York fills more than 30,000 barrels with beer every year. The primary component of the popular Belgian, wheat and amber ales: water.

That fact, according to Larry Bennett, is why the brewery is part of a fight to keep natural gas fracking out of the town of Middlefield, N.Y.

“If chemicals from fracking get into the water, we’re done,” said Bennett, a spokesman for the Middlefield-based business.

The town is one of four municipalities in New York currently waging court battles defending local bans on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process of injecting pressurized fluids into the ground to fracture shale rock to release natural gas. They face lawsuits from the industry as well as from some landowners. Opponents of the bans see the gas industry as an economic boon and say local bans spoil that potential if Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lifts New York’s four-and-a-half year moratorium and opens the state to natural gas drilling.
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NY fracking scandal: Seven groups demand conflict of interest investigation of Cuomo administration

By Steve Horn, February 11, 2013. Source: DeSmogBlog

Photo: DeSmogBlog

Photo: DeSmogBlog

New York could soon become the newest state in the union to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technique used to enable shale oil and gas extraction. The green light from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could transpire in as little as “a couple of weeks,” according to journalist and author Tom Wilber.

That timeline, of course, assumes things don’t take any crazy twists or turns.

Enter a press conference today in Albany, where seven groups, including Public CitizenFood and Water WatchFrack ActionUnited for ActionCatskill Citizens for Safe Energy, and Capital District Against Fracking, called for an Albany County District Attorney General investigation of the Cuomo Administration.

They are asking “whether Lawrence Schwartz, Secretary to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has a conflict of interest between his stock investments and his involvement in the state’s decision on whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.” Continue reading

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Fracking called safe in New York state

By Danny Hakim, January 3, 2013.  Source: NY Times

The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York, according to a copy obtained by The New York Times from an expert who did not believe it should be kept secret.

The analysis and other health assessments have been closely guarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration as the governor weighs whether to approve fracking. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has long delayed making a decision, unnerved in part by strident opposition on his party’s left. A plan to allow a limited amount of fracking in the state’s Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border is still seen as the most likely outcome, should the drilling process receive final approval.

The eight-page analysis is a summary of previous research by the state and others, and concludes that fracking can be done safely. It delves into the potential impact of fracking on water resources, on naturally occurring radiological material found in the ground, on air emissions and on “potential socioeconomic and quality-of-life impacts.”

But it remains difficult to discern how much original research the state has done on potential health impacts, and environmentalists worry that the administration’s lack of transparency is hiding a lack of rigor in its assessment of public health risks. At the same time, the drilling industry, and landowners who have leased their land in the Southern Tier, have grown increasingly frustrated with delays by the Cuomo administration to announce a final plan. State regulators have now been studying the issue of fracking for about four years.

Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the State Department of Environmental Conservation, said the analysis obtained by The Times was out of date. “The document you have is merely a summary, is nearly a year old, and there will be substantial changes to that version,” she said.

She added that a revised version of the Environmental Impact Statement on hydrofracking — which last ran about 1,500 pages — would include more material delving into health issues. The administration has also turned to three outside experts to review the state’s own health assessments.

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Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydrofracking

Frack fight: A secret war of activists – with the world in the balance

By Ellen Cantarow, November 18, 2012.  Source: TomDispatch

There’s a war going on that you know nothing about between a coalition of great powers and a small insurgent movement.  It’s a secret war being waged in the shadows while you go about your everyday life.

In the end, this conflict may matter more than those in Iraq and Afghanistan ever did.  And yet it’s taking place far from newspaper front pages and with hardly a notice on the nightly news.  Nor is it being fought in Yemen or Pakistan or Somalia, but in small hamlets in upstate New York.  There, a loose network of activists is waging a guerrilla campaign not with improvised explosive devices or rocket-propelled grenades, but with zoning ordinances and petitions.

The weaponry may be humdrum, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. Ultimately, the fate of the planet may hang in the balance.

All summer long, the climate-change nightmares came on fast and furious. Once-fertile swathes of American heartland baked into an aridity reminiscent of sub-Saharan Africa. Hundreds of thousands of fish dead in overheated streams. Six million acres in the West consumed by wildfires.  In September, a reportcommissioned by 20 governments predicted that as many as 100 million people across the world could die by 2030 if fossil-fuel consumption isn’t reduced.  And all of this was before superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the New York metropolitan area and the Jersey shore.

Washington’s leadership, when it comes to climate change, is already mired in failure. President Obama permitted oil giant BP to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, while Shell was allowed to begin drilling tests in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska.  At the moment, the best hope for placing restraints on climate change lies with grassroots movements.

In January, I chronicled upstate New York’s homegrown resistance to high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, an extreme-energy technology that extracts methane (“natural gas”) from the Earth’s deepest regions.  Since then, local opposition has continued to face off against the energy industry and state government in a way that may set the tone for the rest of the country in the decades ahead.  In small hamlets and tiny towns you’ve never heard of, grassroots activists are making a stand in what could be the beginning of a final showdown for Earth’s future.
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Victory! With new delays, a growing sense that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not approve gas drilling

By Danny Hakim, September 30, 2012. Source: New York Times

Photo: NY Times

ALBANY — A few months after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was poised to approve hydraulic fracturing in several struggling New York counties, his administration is reversing course and starting the regulatory process over, garnering praise from environmental groups and stirring anger among industry executives and upstate landowners.

Ten days ago, after nearly four years of review by state regulators, the governor bowed to entreaties from environmentalists to conduct another study, this one an examination of potential impacts on public health. Neither the governor nor other state officials have given any indication of how long the study might take.

Then on Friday, state environmental officials said they would restart the regulatory rule-making process, requiring them to repeat a number of formal steps, including holding a public hearing, and almost certainly pushing a decision into next year.

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