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Hydrofracking

The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Hydrofracking: There is reportedly an effort underway in Chenango County to develop a "pilot" gas drilling operation at Camp Pharsalia, a former prison. Is this simply the spark of an idea or something more advanced? Is this an end-run around the SGEIS process, or a valid way to test the technology in New York State? We are working on the story.

Why does the state spend 70 million dollars on remedial education for high school graduates? State University of New York Chancellor Nancy Zimpher discusses the problems that have lead to this frightening statistic she recently shared at a budget hearing: That 50% of all students who enter community college in NYS need remedial and developmental education to prepare them for a higher degree.

When it comes to creating public-private partnerships, nobody does it better than CNSE Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Alain Kaloyeros. He joins me in the studio to discuss why the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering at the University of Albany has been called a template for economic development projects like the one Governor Cuomo hopes to spark in Buffalo.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

If you're involved in the education reform movement, you've probably heard of Valerie Babb. She is the Director of the Charter Parent Action Network at New York City Charter School Center. City & State named her one of their 40 under 40. She has butted heads with Dr. Hazel Dukes of the New York State Chapter of the NAACP. Now Dr. Babb has her sites on improving the work and image of the education reform movement. She is in Albany today and will be dropping by the Plywood Hut to chat about the issue.

On the Capitol Pressroom last week Senator John DeFrancisco (R – Syracuse) accused the New York Public Interest Research Group of shilling for the Democratic Party since the group was more critical of the Senate's newly redrawn district maps, than it was of the Assembly's. Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG has a few things to say about that.

And we continue the conversation on hydrofracking from two perspectives:

Deborah Rogers is the founder of the Energy Policy Forum (www.energypolicyforum.com).  She's also served on the Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas since 2008. She was appointed in 2011 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to a task force reviewing placement of air monitors in the Barnett Shale region in light of air quality concerns brought about by the natural gas operations in North Texas. She also joined a regional steering committee for the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) in 2011 with responsibility for economic questions.

Ken Smith, Cornell Cooperative Extension director for Chenango County, will cover latest developments of natural gas in New York, as well as some of the issues that farmers will face if fracking goes forward.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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The Empire

Cuomo's 2012 budget will look to keep the state on track while touching the third rails

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Courtesy of the Governor's office.

In today's budget speech we could see Governor Andrew Cuomo expending some of the horde of political capital he continues to pile up.

First and foremost, there's the issue of the approximately $2.1 billion budget gap projected for next year. After restructuring the tax code to include higher-income earners paying more, reports indicate the Governor will again turn to state agencies, asking for a two-and-a-half percent cut across the board.

Then there's the promised four percent increase for both education and healthcare in this budget. Cuomo's already made reforming Medicaid an agenda item in his administration, but appears to have stopped short of the call for the state to take up the call for the state to fully takeover pay for the program.

One of the biggest battles--and seemingly a perennial one--is likely to be over the Governor's call for a teacher evaluation system. This is almost certainly setting up a fight with the state's teachers union.

Another battle between Cuomo and the union's is expected to come from the Governor's proposal for a new pension tier. It's being reported he'll seek a 401(k)-like system for incoming government workers, including first responders.

Another interesting note: the budget won't include money for hydrofracking. Conversations with people working on the issue, some of whom are close with the Cuomo administration, have indicated a growing uneasy with the issue inside the Governor's office. The lack of financing in this coming year indicates that, at the very least, Cuomo is taking a longer, harder look at the process.

As soon as we get our hands on the budget, we'll start digging through to get you important details on the Governor's priorities for the coming year.

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The Empire

DEC Commish Marten's remarks on hydrofracking comment period closing

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Below is the full letter from DEC Commissioner Joe Martens on the end of the comment period on the state's draft hydrofracking regulations.

As others have pointed out, the last two paragraphs could signal a move by Martens to allay concerns about the speed at which the department was moving. I've highlighted the lines some are reading as good signs for opponents of the drilling process:

There has been an unprecedented response to this issue with tens of thousands of comments submitted. All comments are being carefully considered as we develop the final rules and conditions for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. In addition, the final documents will include responses to the comments in responsiveness summaries.

DEC has carefully studied this issue for nearly four years and we continue to study each and every issue associated with this activity. DEC’s number one priority is to ensure conditions for high-volume hydraulic fracturing fully protect public health and the environment. If high-volume hydraulic fracturing moves forward in New York, it will move forward with the strictest standards in the nation to ensure New York’s drinking water and other natural resources are thoroughly protected.

Public input is an important part of establishing responsible conditions for high-volume hydraulic fracturing as well as determining whether it can be done safely. Many significant improvements were made to the 2009 draft based on comments DEC received. We expect additional improvements will be made to the 2011 draft based on the comments submitted during this comment period.

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The Empire

Thousands of last-minute fracking comments delivered to DEC

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

By the Innovation Trail's Marie Cusick

As of Monday, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had received a record-breaking 20,800 public comments on the latest draft of its review of hydrofracking.

But by Tuesday, the agency had its hands full with thousands of more comments arriving at the 11th hour.

The deadline for submitting a public comment to the DEC about hydrofracking is Wednesday, January 11th.

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The Empire

Common Cause lists Sens. Maziarz, Nozzolio as top recepients of nat gas money

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

According to a new report released today (see after the jump) by Common Cause NY, companies with heavy interest in hydrofracking's legalization in New York have made more than $1.34 million in campaign contributions to New York politicians over the last four years. National Grid, ConEdison and National Fuel led the way in expenditures.

The report identifies Republican State Senator  George Maziar, who chairs the Senate's energy committee, as the recipient of the most donations from the industry, with more than $38,500 coming his way.

The top 10 list is below, but it's worth noting the one Assemblyman on the list--Democrat Kevin Cahill of Ulster County. He chairs the Assembly's energy committee.

Courtesy of Common Cause NY

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

If you have something to say about hydrofracking, you need to tell the DEC today. Why? Tomorrow is the deadline for public comment on the issue. Advocates on all sides are expected to rally in Albany today. We will speak to members of a pro-drilling land owners coalition, as well as to a contingent of anti-frackers from Tompkins County including Jannette Barthe and Martha Robertson.

One analysis of the State Senate majority’s plans for an additional seat suggests that the extra representation would negate the effects of the GOP’s loss in the prison gerrymandering lawsuit. Whew. That’s a mouthful. With analysis from the Democrat’s perspective, we speak with Senators Michael Gianaris, D – Astoria and Liz Krueger, D – Manhattan.

We also hear analysis from the Republican’s perspective.

Lara Kassel of Medicaid Matters updates us on the progress of the Medicaid Redesign Committee.

Yesterday SUNY’s Chancellor Nancy Zimpher presented her State of SUNY address. Today she joins us with details. We will also ask her to weigh in on the explosive teacher evaluation issue stemming from New York City’s failure to come to an agreement on the issue, prompting State Ed Commissioner Dr. John King put the brakes on some funding.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Monday, January 09, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Carol French is a dairy farmer in Bradford County Pennsylvania. She leased her mineral rights to East Resources in 2006 for a 5 year term. East sold her lease to Chesapeake, which, though the term of the lease has expired, is still on the deed. While neither gas company ever fracked her land, she lives within a couple miles of 9 active wells. She claims her water has been ruined, and her property value has plummeted. But more urgently, she claims her daughter's endocrine system has been so battered by processing contaminated water that the chemicals caused her spleen to rupture; the daughter ultimately had to move away from the family farm. Today, two days before the end of the DEC’s fracking public comment period, we will hear excerpts from an interview with Carol who spoke with us on her farm on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the DOH hasn't responded to anti-fracking activist Doug Wood's FOIL requests for correspondence between that Agency and the DEC regarding the health impacts of hydrofracking. He joins us to tell his story.

Then Seneca National President Robert Odawi Porter has some thoughts on the Governor's commitment to expand gambling in New York.

And Brian Sampson, of the pro business group, Unshackle Upstate weighs in on hydrofracking and the Governor's SOS.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: MegaBus Wants Feds to Restrict BoltBus, Fracking Moves to Suburbs

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top stories from TN:
Stranded A Train Passengers Sue New York MTA (Link)
YEAR IN REVIEW FLORIDA: 2011 Rides Rails Out of the Sunshine State (Link)

Image from New Jersey red light traffic camera

Unfinished subdivisions in Arizona have led urban planners to suggest "smart decline" strategies that sometimes even dismantle existing infrastructure. (NPR)

Hydrfracking moves to the suburbs. (Marketplace)

Friends don't let friends walk drunk, because "every mile walked drunk, turns out to be eight times more dangerous than the mile driven drunk."(Freakonomics)

California's plans to use Amtrak as a fallback for high-speed rail are coming under fire -- from Amtrak. (Los Angeles Times)

Megabus wants the feds to restrict--or break up--rival BoltBus. (Bloomberg via Crain's New York)

A red-light traffic camera manufacturer made a video of New Jersey intersection crashes and near-misses. (Star-Ledger; video)

Tweet of the day, from the Detroit News's David Shepardson: Ad in @BostonGlobe: Boston-area Saab dealer offering new Saab with $17,000 discount off MSRP

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The Empire

Support for independent redistricting grows, while New Yorkers remain split on fracking: Quinnipiac

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

As a new Quinnipiac poll says, support for an independent commission to try new political boundaries is on the rise. More than half--52 percent--of those polled said said it was time for the Legislature to hand over the line drawing to someone else.

“Drawing new legislative and congressional district lines will be high on Albany’s 2012 agenda. Quinnipiac University has been tracking this sleeper issue for some time and we see support for an independent commission to draw the lines is edging up,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in the report. Carroll noted that 56 percent of those polled believed that an independent commission should be devoid of legislators.

You can see what some non-partisan groups are proposing for maps here.

Lastly, the poll shows that more than two-thirds of those polled support Las Vegas-style casinos in New York.

New York voters are less sure when it comes to hydrofracking. The drilling process is supported by 44 percent of those polled, while 45 percent are opposed to it. New York City and upstate voters are less in favor of bringing hydrofracking to New York--49 and 48 percent respectively--while 53 percent of suburban voters support drilling.

“Another big 2012 issue – hydro-fracking – has New Yorkers split right down the middle.  Overwhelmingly, voters think it would produce jobs. A smaller majority worries that it would damage the environment,” Carroll said.

The poll surveyed 1,143 registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-132nd District - parts of Rochester, and the towns of Irondequoit & Brighton – chairs the Standing Committee on Insurance and sits on the Rules and Ways and Means committees. He will join us in the studio to discuss this afternoon’s special session, as well as the possibility of a constitutional amendment on casino gambling.

Frank Mauro of the Fiscal Policy Institute weighs in on the three-way tax restructuring deal announced by Governor Cuomo & Legislative leaders yesterday.

Cathy Kenny of the American Petroleum Institute compares the Empire State's due diligence around hydrofracking, to that of other states.

And even as opponents of New York's same sex marriage law win a round in court, Robert Freeman of the State's Committee on Open Government isn't convinced that the Governor violated the state's open meetings law by conducting closed meetings to court GOP supporters in advance of the vote.

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Features

Snapshot | Fishs Eddy Takes Political Stance in Holiday Windows

Friday, December 02, 2011

The independent kitchenware and gift store Fishs Eddy has taken a political stance on Occupy Wall Street, hydrofracking and birth control in its holiday windows.

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The Empire

DEC sees 'unprecedented' turnout at NYC hydrofracking hearing

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The state's environmental agency says approximately 6,000 people attended two hearings on hydrofracking yesterday. The meetings, held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in Lower Manhattan, also produced more than 1,250 comments entered into the public record, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

“The turnout of 6,000 people at the hearings demonstrates how strongly New Yorkers feel about this important issue,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement. “Public input on the draft environment impact statement is an important and insightful part of developing responsible conditions for this activity as well as determining whether it can be safely conducted. Public comment on the 2009 draft helped DEC greatly improve its proposal which we released earlier this summer.”

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The Empire

‘The Capitol Pressroom’ with Susan Arbetter at 11 am

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":


Dr. Rick Timbs of the Statewide School Finance Consortium has a lot to say about the obstacles he sees as fixing the school aid inequities in the state.

We host a “moderated conversation” about hydrofracking featuring Norse Energy Vice President Dennis Holbrook & James “Chip” Northrup, retired oil & gas executive, and vocal anti-fracking activist.

And the Industries for the Blind of New York State is releasing an economic impact study conducted by the University of Buffalo on Thursday that shows that blind and visually impaired New Yorkers are big contributors to the state's economy. Chris Burke joins us with details.

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The Empire

DEC extends public comment period on fracking regulations

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The State's Department of Environmental Conservation today announced it was extending the public comment period for hydrofracking until January 11. 2012. The announcement reportedly came during the hearing being held downtown at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on the Borough of Manhattan Community College campus.

"Many individuals and organizations requested additional time to prepare comments," DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said in an email. "We have decided to extend the comment period by 30 days to Jan. 11."

This will likely come as heartening news to fracking opponents, who have been calling for an extended hearing process. DeSantis, however, said the extended comment period wouldn't affect the time frame for a final decision on rules and regulations for the controversial natural gas drilling process, nor would the extra time mean more public hearings.

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The Empire

Hydrofracking opposition isn't unanimous among downstate pols

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will hold its final public meeting on hydraulic fracturing tomorrow in Lower Manhattan. It'll be the last chance proponents and detractors of the natural gas extraction process have to go on the record before the state agency puts out its drilling regulations.

While it's uncertain when DEC will actually get around to doing that, one thing is for sure: downstate elected officials have been some of the biggest advocates for postponing or outright banning the process in New York State.

Tomorrow's meeting will be a testament to how well the message of urgency over potential ecological disaster has been retained by New York City residents, a quarter of whom have regularly admitted to not be paying attention to the issue. But not every downstate politician is committed to the anti-fracking cause.

"I'm not convinced one way or another," Bronx Democratic State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. said over the phone earlier today. "On one hand we need fuel. We need to be sure that we become independent. That's one issue that I'm considering. On the other hand people are saying the water could become contaminated. So I'm debating."

After elaborating a bit further, the Senator sounded more like a proponent of the drilling process than not, saying his inclination was towards the independent fuel argument. "We've got to find a way to be independent," he said.

Diaz is no stranger to iconoclastic positions inside the liberal Democratic conference. But a key Senate vote on the other side of the aisle made it clear he, too, was looking for a safe way to support the practice.

"Hydrofracking, if it can be proven to be done safely, is something the state should be doing," Republican State Senator Martin Golden said when reached by phone. Golden had previously missed the big vote on extending the moratorium back in August. Since then he's indicated his support for the measure, saying that "it actually doesn't affect the city of New York" because of measures put in place to protect the New York City watershed.

On the Assembly side dissent has been few and far between. Of all the votes cast on June 6th to extend a moratorium on drilling, only members of the New York City delegation voted against the extension: Democrat Dov Hikind and Republican Lou Tobacco. Neither could be reached by publication time to see if they remained committed to giving hydrofracking a chance.

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The Empire

Recap: Cuomo and the State Democratic Committee meeting in Albany

Friday, November 18, 2011

Couresy of the Governor's office.

Capital New York's Azi Paybarah has a great rundown of the Democrat's state committee meeting this week. Governor Andrew Cuomo made an appearance, but left the major points of contention--hydrofracking and the millionaires' tax--unresolved for many in attendance.

Coming off a handful of victories in contested local elections around the state, Cuomo said the results affirmed the Democrats' positive view of the role of government.

"They had an argument that basically says, 'whatever the problem, it's caused by government,'" Cuomo said, sounding a lot like his father used to.

But "we argue the exact opposite. That government is posibility. Why? Because government is us, and we believe in us," he said, waving his right hand in a circle in front of the roomful of about 200 party members.

...

His last few lines were swallowed up by the applause in the room. One person let out a loud, approving whistle. After his speech, Cuomo slipped out the back of the hotel and into a black S.U.V. where, according to a reporter there, the governor ignored a question shouted to him.

Read the entire piece, which includes videos of the Governor's speech, here.

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The Empire

Key agency delays hydrofracking regulations vote

Friday, November 18, 2011

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York Congressman Maurice Hinchey are applauding the Delaware River Basin Commission's postponement of a meeting next week "to consider draft natural gas development regulations has been postponed to allow additional time for review by the five commission members," according to a statement by the agency. The draft hydrofracking regulations, which could have opened up further gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, were scheduled to be voted on at the meeting.

Schneiderman had previously sent a letter to the agency opposing the draft regulations "lack the benefit of a full environmental impact study, which is required by law and dictated by common sense." He threatened to use "the full authority" of his office to stop the agency from moving forward. The AG had already filed a lawsuit, back in May, for what he said was its failure to commit to a full environmental review of the proposed regulations.

Today's postponement, he said, "further demonstrates that the proposed regulations for fracking in the Delaware River Basin are not ready to see the light of day."

"Without a full, fair and open review of the potential risks of fracking in the Basin, the public will continue to question the federal government’s ability to protect public health and environment," Schneiderman said.

Hinchey, who has also stated his previous opposition to the drilling process, said:

I am pleased that the Delaware River Basin Commission has followed through on my request to cancel a planned vote on the adoption of Natural Gas Development Regulations for the Delaware River Basin. The commission should not begin considering adoption of any final regulations until it conducts a comprehensive and cumulative environmental impact study. Without such a study, there is no guarantee that the DRBC's regulations would be sufficient to protect the Basin.

This post has been updated.

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The Empire

DEC holds first in a new round of hydrofracking public hearings

Thursday, November 17, 2011

By Innovation Trail's Zack Seward

The scene inside the former Dansville Middle School auditorium. (Zack Seward / WXXI)

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held the first of four public hearings on hydrofracking Wednesday. More than 800 people descended on the vacant Dansville Middle School to rally both for and against the controversial natural gas drilling technique.

Anti-fracking advocates outnumbered pro-drilling voices by a roughly 80/20 split. Many pro-drilling speakers were booed by the crowd, while anti-drilling speakers earned hearty applause.

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The Empire

Hydrofracking meetings let public question drillers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By Innovation Trail's Marie Cusick

Representatives from the natural gas drilling industry took questions from the public about hydrofracking in Geneva, N.Y. on Tuesday night. (Marie Cusick / WMHT)

Today the New York Department of Environmental Conservation begins tohold public hearings about its rules to govern hydrofracking. But yesterday marked a different kind of forum about fracking: a public meeting hosted by the natural gas industry.

Geneva, N.Y. was the sixth stop in a series of seven public meetings called "Fuel for Thought" hosted by New York's Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA), a trade group representing drilling companies. About 50 people turned out to a junior high school last night, as a panel of representatives from the drilling industry took the stage for a question and answer session about hydrofracking.

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