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Energy

Cuomo spooked by Pa. well blowout

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Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking for assurance that a Pennsylvania-style well blowout won't happen in New York.

New York's governor is looking for an inspection of a Pennsylvania well that blew out, reports Jon Campbell at Gannett.  The goal is to see what that accident might mean for New York's drilling rules, which are still in development:

“It is important that DEC take into account information concerning the incident in Pennsylvania and, to that end, I hereby direct DEC to review the issues raised and any lessons learned from the accidents in Pennsylvania and ensure that these issues are adequately addressed in the revised draft” review, [New York Director of State Operations Howard] Glaser wrote. The memo was first reported Saturday by The Associated Press and later obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.

Opinion

At the Buffalo News David Robinson has a column about Taury Smith, the state geologist who's made controversial pro-fracking statements about the Marcellus Shale.  Videos of Smith's lecture at the University at Buffalo have been removed from UB's Geology Department website:

Apparently Smith’s muzzle from his Albany bosses didn’t keep him from speaking to a packed lecture hall, but making his public remarks available for broader viewing—and for posterity—is another matter. Andy Leahy, a pro-drilling blogger from Syracuse, calls it censorship. He filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the state Education Department for materials related to Smith’s UB talk. He got a CD of the PowerPoint, but no video. He recently filed a similar request with UB. “What would the noise factor be if he was anti-fracking and got similarly censored?” Leahy, an energy industry land title searcher, said last week.

At the Post-Standard there's text of a lecture given to the National Press Club by anti-fracking activist Adrian Kuzminski, with Sustainable Otsego.  Kuzminiski outlines the "pro-fracking" arguments and rebuts them.  For example:

"Marcellus gas is an economic shot in the arm to depressed rural economies who need it most." Who wants to buy a house in a gas field? Realtors report residential buyers avoiding leased areas. Many banks will not give mortgages on leased property, and many insurance companies will not cover for damages from gas extraction.

At the New York Daily News columnist Bill Hammond says people should stop freaking out about fracking, turning to former Department of Environmental Conservation deputy commissioner Stuart Gruskin as a "rational, pragmatic" voice:

"Everyone's got to take a deep breath and say, 'Let's get back to facts and science,'" [Gruskin] says. "And that's what DEC is in the process of doing. Everyone who's out there shouting and screaming should let DEC finish the job." He's right. Environmentalists especially should respect the process. They are, after all, the side that believes in strong government regulation. They need to tone down the "no fracking way" rhetoric and help the DEC make New York a showcase for safe, responsible gas drilling.

The Auburn Citizen has a letter from resident Jean Siracusa, who argues that the jobs created when hydrofracking takes off don't go to locals - they go to Texans.

But benefits could accrue if states would charge an "impact fee" to drillers, argues Pennsylvania Republican state senator Joe Scarnati in the Patriot-News.  He's proposed legislation to that end in Pennsylvania:

Senate Bill 1100 would establish a reasonable annual fee per Marcellus Shale well. The base fee would be $10,000 and adjusted upwards depending on production levels and the current price of natural gas. A majority of the revenue from the impact fee would be distributed to affected counties and municipalities to address such things as road repairs, environmental cleanup or water and sewer plant improvements in drilling communities across the state. A portion of the fee would be dedicated to conservation districts as well as statewide environmental and infrastructure projects. It is estimated that my proposal would capture $121.2 million in payments by March 1, 2012. In addition, each well would generate at least $160,000 in fees over a decade, based on current gas prices and widely accepted production projections. If calculated using current gas prices, the proposal would collect at least $675 million through five years.

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