Following through on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s promise, the Acting New York State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, released the findings of his department’s long delayed health study of hydraulic fracturing in New York State.  According to Dr. Zucker, hydraulic fracturing poses serious concerns to public health and data that proves otherwise does not exist.  As a result, and as others have noted, Dr. Zucker concluded that he “cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York.” Continue Reading High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Banned in New York State

In several recent remarks, Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that the long-delayed health study of hydraulic fracturing by the New York State Department of Health will be released before the end of 2014.  Speaking Monday on the Capital Pressroom radio show, Cuomo referred to pending decisions on natural gas development and casinos, stating that “by the end of the year we should have positions on both that are clear and we’ll start the new year with some major decisions under our belt, so to speak.”  Likewise, last Friday, Cuomo told reporters that he expected the health study to be completed before the end of the year.  At least one media outlet has noted that Monday’s statement is the first indication that the release of the health study will come along with the state’s “final position.”  These comments, however, leave everyone guessing as to what the “final position” will be, what form the “final position” will take, and what all of this means for the pending environmental impact statement and proposed regulations, which have been on the shelf for several years.

On Monday, New York’s Court of Appeals, its highest court, upheld the power of municipalities to prohibit hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) within their boundaries.

The case, previously discussed here, concerned efforts by two towns to ban fracking within their boundaries after several town residents signed oil and gas leases allowing for exploration and extraction on their land. Continue Reading Fracking Alert: Home Rule Prevails In New York’s Highest Court

In what is considered a first step towards requiring natural gas drillers to disclose the chemical constituents of hydraulic fracturing fluids, EPA recently released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comment on the topic.

High volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is a method of natural gas extraction by which materials, typically water, sand and chemical additives, are injected at high pressure to fracture deep layers of shale, which allows for the release of natural gas. The natural gas is then captured and surged to the surface, along with residual flow back fluids. Continue Reading EPA To Consider Mandatory Disclosure Of Chemicals Used In Fracking Fluids

Valves, pumps, connectors, and other component parts are the crucial joints in an industrial plant’s skeletal system. Without them, movement—or in the case of a refinery or chemical manufacturing facility, processing—would be impossible. And, just as with skeletal joints, without proper care and maintenance, normal wear and tear can cause component parts to become arthritic and leak, releasing contained gas and liquids into the environment. Leaking parts are particularly problematic to the expansion of high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF), as they may undermine the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction otherwise gained by transitioning to natural gas.

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It appears that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) will very likely face multiple legal challenges to its long-delayed issuance of a final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“SGEIS”) for the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (“HVHF”) regulatory program.  Lawyers representing the Bankruptcy Trustee of Norse Energy Corp. USA filed a letter with DEC Commissioner Martens demanding that he identify “a date certain in the near future when the SGEIS will be completed so that the many permit applications that were filed by Norse may be pursued.”  “Absent a definitive and reasonable timetable” from DEC, Norse has declared its intent to sue the agency in state court seeking an order to compel finalization of the SGEIS. Continue Reading Lawsuits Over Hydraulic Fracturing SGEIS Imminent: Joint Landowners Threaten Suit Before Year End

In what will be a precedent-setting decision of national importance, today the New York State Court of Appeals agreed to hear Norse Energy’s appeal of the Third Department’s decision upholding the Town of Dryden’s municipal ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction. The Third Department and lower State Supreme Court both upheld the Town’s ban on hydraulic fracturing on the grounds that a full blown ban on an activity does not constitute “regulation” for preemption purposes under New York State’s Oil, Gas and Solutions Mining Law. The validity of the Third Department’s reasoning, and the Town’s underlying authority, will be reviewed by the Court of Appeals sometime this fall. Continue Reading Update! – New York State Court of Appeals Takes On Fracking Ban Case

Last week, Norse Energy filed its Notice of Appeal to the New York State Court of Appeals. .  In its notice of appeal, Norse seeks review of the Third Department’s decision in Norse Energy Corp. USA v. Town of Dryden, upholding the lower court’s determination that the Town of Dryden’s ban on hydraulic fracturing was not expressly or impliedly preempted by the Oil, Gas and Solutions Mining Law. Continue Reading Court of Appeals to Hear Fracking Ban Case?

Albany celebrated Earth Day this week by verbally acknowledging that New York State is no closer to permitting fracking today than it was last year.  Senate Environmental Chair Mark Grisanti recognized that a de facto moratorium exists in New York State concerning the natural gas resource, with the Cuomo Administration delaying its decision on how to proceed until more health and environmental studies are complete. Continue Reading NYS Fracking Standstill