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Energy

Fracking protestors to gather in Albany today

fracking_Marcellus Protest.jpg
Marcellus Protest
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via Flickr
Hundreds are expected to turn out against the controversial natural gas extraction technique.

A huge gathering of anti-fracking activists is expected in Albany today, reports Mike Clifford at the Public News Service.  The environmental and health groups are planning to protest the potential water and air quality issues that could arise if hydrofracking begins en masse in New York State.

Meanwhile, Jon Campbell reports at the Press & Sun-Bulletin that pro-natural gas groups spent $2.87 million on lobbying against a moratorium on fracking last year - while environmental groups spent about $725,000 lobbying for it.

Campbell also reports in the PSB that municipalities in the Southern Tier are moving to protect their roads from the heavy truck traffic that will likely accompany natural gas drilling:

Broome County and the Town of Afton passed laws last year to regulate the traffic. Both set up a permitting system for haulers -- the county targeted heavy and wide trucks; the town focused on concentrated traffic -- that would require a permit to use their roads, as well as financial assurance to protect against potential damage. The Town of Dickinson will vote on its own version of a road-use law on Monday, which would set up a permitting program for frequent truck traffic, with a $250,000 bond and $10,000 letter of credit required for permit holders. "It's a safeguard just to assure that these people have permits. Steps have been taken so we know what their routes will be and we know the conditions of the road beforehand," Dickinson Supervisor Michael Marinaccio said. "If there's deterioration, then we know who is responsible."

Fracking could contribute as much to global warming as coal does, according to a soon-to-be-released Cornell University study.  Early details come via Ben Geman at The Hill's energy and environment blog:

Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth, however, argues that development of gas from shale rock formations produced through hydraulic fracturing – dubbed “fracking” – brings far more methane emissions than conventional gas production. Enough, he argues, to negate the carbon advantage that gas has over coal and oil when they’re burned for energy, because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas. “The [greenhouse gas] footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years,” states the upcoming study from Howarth, who is a professor of ecology and environmental biology, and other Cornell researchers.

The Hill has a "pre-publication" version of the report here.

At the Buffalo News, David Robinson reports that fracking will be a "non-issue" in western New York - because the quality of the shale there isn't conducive to hydrofracking.

GE solar plant

The Capital Region could be in the running for a new $600 million plant that GE plans to build to make super thin solar panels, reports Eric Anderson at the Times Union:

Victor Abate, vice president of GE’s renewable energy business, said the company hopes to decide on a location for its new plant in the next 90 to 100 days. Production of solar panels would begin by 2013, he said. Site selection would be based on a number of factors, including the site’s proximity to scientific and engineering talent, the economics of the site, such as the cost and availability of utilities, power, and water, the supply chain for necessary materials, and federal, state and local incentives. “These are extremely large factories,” Abate said.

NYSERDA cash

NYSERDA, the state agency that funds energy projects is putting $6 million up for projects that "commercialize renewable power technologies around New York," reports Kevin Tampone at the Mohawk Vally Business Journal.  Grants range from $200,000 to $1 million.

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