WGXC-90.7 FM

Paterson mum on moratorium signing

Dec 10, 2010 11:13 pm
[caption id="" align="alignright" width="145" caption="Gov. David Paterson"][/caption]

Gov. David Paterson on Alan Chartock’s “Capitol Connection” (airing again 1 p.m. Saturday on WAMC) would not say whether he will sign a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations in the wake of the New York Assembly passing the bill last week. The deadline for signing is Monday. Excerpts from Paterson, via Capitol Confidential:
“This is a bill that delays any action. It’s a moratorium on a decision over hydrofracking that was written in the spring of last year. So the date that is the end of the moratorium is May 20. So, in other words, it only commands what happens for the next four and a half months. It is our opinion that the DEC — who I have urged to be scrupulously careful in examining this issue — cannot come to a conclusion within that same four and a half months. So what I’m saying is that the issue is very serious, but whether the legislation is signed or not probably won’t make a difference, because that decision is six months off anyway.”

Paterson also said on the show:

“ … The problem with the bill is there’s another kind of hydrofracking that’s been in use for years in the state, called vertical hydrofracking — not nearly the intrusive threat to the environment and the water quality as what we’re contemplating here. And that would create a moratorium on that, which the companies that engage in this process feel would lose jobs. And that’s something that has to be considered. I don’t know why they put that other element in this bill, because it really makes things confusing, but I will clear it up in the next 48 hours as my constitutional mandate commands me to.”

“ … The instincts of people who are fearful are borne out by the fact that we have a polluted environment now, when their predecessors tried to warn us and we didn’t listen.”

“ … The public comment period and the hearings that were held indicated to us that we did not have all the information at hand when we made the decision, and that’s why on our own, we held the process up for over a year trying to find the right conclusion. And we’re not going to guess. We’re not going to err on the side of the huge profit and revenues that the state sorely needs right now. We’re going to make sure we’re scrupulous in our examination and that we don’t take any action that is going to cause damage for the environment.”

Capitol Confidential reported: "At a press availability Friday morning, Paterson said a decision on the legislation — which must come by Monday — was close. 'We will again be meeting with and talking with parties on both sides and probably come to a conclusion very shortly,' he said."

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York is trying to persuade Paterson not to sign. Here is there press release:

"The moratorium bill only limits the Department of Environmental Conservation's issuance of new permits in '... low permeability natural gas reservoirs, such as the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.' Use of conventional, low-volume, hydraulic fracturing, with or without horizontal drilling, is still available for already permitted wells, and for proposed new wells," said Dr. Anthony R. Ingraffea, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University, and Fellow of the International Congress on Fracture (2009). "Industry and landowner claims that currently approved wells would be impacted or current jobs would be lost can only stem from a misinformed reading of the bill."


• This is just plain wrong. By any reading, the bill does indeed bar the permitting of ANY new well using hydraulic fracturing. The text of the bill reads: Section 1. There is hereby established a suspension of the issuance of new permits for the drilling of a well which utilizes the practice of hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil in low permeability natural gas reservoirs….

• The term "low permeability" does not limit this legislation to the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. The vast majority of New York's wells are in low permeability formations – shale, sandstone or carbonate. These low-permeability natural gas reservoirs include the Bass Islands Trend, Medina Sandstone, Onondaga Reef, Oriskany Sandstone and other similar formations. These shallow, low-volume wells are quite common in Western New York and the Southern Tier, and are subject to the moratorium as written.

• This legislation is not limited to high volume hydraulic fracturing. The DEC will be unable to issue a permit for ANY natural gas or oil well which uses a de minimus amount of fluid to stimulate a well.

• 580 new well permits were issued by NYSDEC in 2009, more than 300 of which were issued during the same period in which the moratorium would apply (prior to May 15). More than 90 percent of these permits could not be issued under the moratorium.

• IOGA of NY's members – who have watched the pace of drilling activity in New York for many years – remark that the average current rate of drilling would likely not resume until many months after any moratorium were to lapse. With only half the usual number of months to drill wells, then only half as many would be developed thereafter, due to the lack of available equipment and labor to do a full year of work in half a year's time. As a result, IOGA of NY projects a net loss of nearly $800,000 in real property taxes, and $1.4 million in royalty payments.


• "The inclusion of vertical wells was intentional and critical. Gas companies threatened to drill vertically into the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations during the moratorium and then convert those wells into horizontal wells as soon as the moratorium sunset (emphasis added). Companies should not be allowed to side step the ongoing environmental review process ordered by Governor Paterson through a loophole for vertical wells."


This is pure fiction. The notion of "stealth Marcellus wells" is a complete fabrication, as is the representation that the bills' sponsors intended to subject vertical wells subject to the moratorium. When this legislation passed the Senate, many members were unaware that it was technically flawed and poorly drafted, and that it would affect the vast majority of on-going oil and gas production in New York State.

Smith said, "This legislation will adversely affect a sector of New York's economy because of unsubstantiated fears. There continues to be no evidence that the one sector of the industry that this legislation will most certainly affect has done anything to warrant a forced closure of new wells."
Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Contact Info
Mailing: PO Box 13 Acra, NY 12405
Main Office / Acra Studio
(518) 622-2598
WGXC Office
(518) 697-7400
WGXC Hudson Studio
(518) 828-0290
WGXC Feedback
(518) 212-7509 feedback@wgxc.org
Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Studio: 5662 Route 23 Acra, NY 12405
WGXC Hudson Studio: 369 Warren St. Hudson, NY 12534