Buffalo bans fracking, while DEC considers regulations

Feb 9, 2011

Daniel Robison at the Innovation Trail was at the Buffalo Common Council meeting last night to cover the city's move to ban hydrofracking:

Critics contend the state is missing out on thousands of drilling jobs. But they weren’t around Tuesday. Just minutes after the vote, a handful of council members and supporters played to an enthusiastic crowd.

“Buffalo, New York: where we just passed the first ban on hydrofracking in New York State,” said Rita Yelda, to uproarious cheers. 

Yelda lobbied the council for the vote on behalf of Frack Action, a group trying to convince local legislatures to proactively paint their books with homegrown regulations.

Next up for the council is looking into whether or not fracking water is being treated in city limits:

Next week the council will debate banning the treatment of fracking fluid by the Buffalo Sewer Authority. This comes after allegations surfaced that the BSA had already started doing so.

Solar at Kodak
Speculation is underway that a New Jersey solar firm could move to Kodak's Eastman Business Park campus, according to Steve Orr at the Democrat and Chronicle:

The Red Bank, N.J., company, which currently employs 14 people, has private funding to open its own research lab, and may locate that at Eastman Business Park as well. "Who knows what's going to happen ultimately, but right now we're very inclined to do something with the laboratory there," [CEO Chuck] Provini said.

He credited U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, with working "very aggressively" to encourage Natcore to consider Rochester and connect the company with federal officials.

Fracking future
The new head of the state DEC, Joe Martens, said in a confirmation hearing yesterday that New York would likely release drilling regulations this summer. That means not waiting for the EPA to make federal rules about hydrofracking, reports Nick Reisman at Gannett

Martens' approach on Tuesday was somewhat different from his comments last year at Union College in Schenectady, where he said the state should wait for the EPA's study of hydrofracking.

[Governor Andrew] Cuomo has been non-committal on the issue, saying that it must be done safely but that the region is in need of economic development.

Meanwhile David Robinson at the Buffalo News reports that National Fuel is planning to transfer 20 to 30 workers to Pa. in anticipation of gas drilling there:

The transfers will cut the staff of its oil and gas unit’s Amherst office on Essjay Road by roughly half to two-thirds as the Amherst-based energy company looks to bring its exploration and production office closer to its fast-growing drilling operations in northwestern Pennsylvania.

“The Pittsburgh office will be a more efficient location,” said Karen Merkel, a National Fuel spokeswoman, bringing those operations closer to its Seneca Resources subsidiary’s vendors and contractors, along with other industry officials, including government regulators.

Offshore wind
A wind power farm proposed for private Galloo Island in Lake Ontario could hinge on whether or not it inks a deal with the state power authority.  Nancy Madsen at the Watertown Daily Times reports:

[Galloo wind developer] Upstate NY Power Corp is asking [the New York Power Authority] to buy the power from Galloo Island, even after the authority's leader said it wouldn't buy any wind-farm power from Jefferson County.

The county's Board of Legislators voted in March to oppose NYPA's project to put turbines in the shallow waters of Lake Ontario, including some possibly off Jefferson County's shores. That action led NYPA President and CEO Richard M. Kessel to vow in May not to buy wind-generated electricity from any projects located in the county.

Plastics expansion
Utility company NYSEG is bankrolling an expansion at Tessy Plastics in Elbridge, N.Y.  The $400,000, as part of the energy firm's economic development commitment, will help keep 50 jobs on the state and create 50 new ones, reports Eric Reinhardt at the Greater Binghamton Business Journal.

New sheriff in town
Colorado's CH2M Hill will take over clean-up at Niskayuna's Knolls Atomic Power Labs. The primary contractor on the job, URS, has subcontracted the work out after being hit with fines following a radiation leak, reports Brian Nearing at the Times Union.

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