9:45am

Mon November 8, 2010
Morning news round-up

Broome County residents favor gas drilling in Zogby poll

Marcellus shale

A new poll from Zogby International reports that 52 percent of residents polled in Broome County support natural gas development. The Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that another 58 percent support leasing county-owned land to gas firms. The poll was paid for by the campaign of Broome County's county executive, who is pro-drilling.

Meanwhile, the state's new attorney general says he's opposed to hydrofracking, the controversial technique used to extract natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region. The Press & Sun-Bulletin reports:

Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who handily defeated Republican gas-drilling supporter Dan Donovan on Tuesday, has said he will sue to stop the controversial drilling process of hydraulic fracturing -- until it is proven safe -- and aggressively go after drillers who break the rules.

"As Attorney General, I will build on the strong Cuomo environmental record and ensure that the office's environmental bureau remains active and engaged to investigate and protect our water supply," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Neither the state nor the federal government has determined that hydrofracking is a safe practice, and I will sue to make sure that no drilling takes place until those determinations have been made."

And the Times Union takes a look at what happens after the natural resources boom. Old natural gas drilling operations have cost "tens of millions in unfunded clean-up costs," according to the paper, and drilling rigs leak gas while companies squabble over who's responsibility it is to conduct clean-up:

Most of the wells are in the western part of the state, although some are as far north as Oswego County and as far west as Otsego County. By comparison, during the massive oil spill this summer in the Gulf of Mexico, it was reported more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells were scattered throughout the Gulf.

It costs $10,000 or more to remove old equipment and safely fill a well with concrete to keep oil or gas from leaking to pollute the air, ground or water. The state has nowhere near enough cash or people to cap or even test abandoned wells already on file, much less the new ones that keep cropping up every year.

Buffalo health firm to partner with Cleveland Clinic

Kaleida Health and the University at Buffalo are bringing in world-renowned heart hospital the Cleveland Clinic to help structure its new facility. The Buffalo News found this way of explaining the collaboration:

"We're building a great stadium, and have excellent physicians, nurses and staff from three different programs that will work there. But they are not organized as a team. With the clinic, we can achieve this with the playbook from the No. 1 team in the United States," said James Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health.

Waterfront development

Syracuse's waterfront redevelopment efforts could be getting a shot in the arm if Mayor Stephanie Miner has her way. Miner wants to take over development from the state canal corporation, so that the city can offer zoning changes and tax breaks as it looks to build up the waterfront. But there's a catch - the canal corporation can't just hand over the property for free. The state legislature would have to approve of the transfer of the land.

A developer who led waterfront revitalizations in New York City, Philadelphia, and Miami spoke to an audience in Buffalo over the weekend, about its harbor, according to the Buffalo News.  His advice included letting the creative class drive the planning process, and adding amenities that aren't available elsewhere in the city, so the development doesn't kill another district to survive.

Smaller government

The Buffalo News reports that 18 elected officials have been given pink slips in downsizing efforts in western New York over the past two years. Amherst is the latest town where voters have opted to cut the size of their legislature to save on taxes.

Meanwhile in Altmar, in Oswego County, residents are considering eliminating their village government, reports the Post-Standard. A vote on Wednesday will determine whether or not the village will develop a plan to close the government. Proponents of the idea say they don't get much from the village for their property taxes, save fire services. Opponents of the idea say it's not clear whether consolidation would actually save anyone any money.

Climbing college costs

The Times Union takes a look at the rising expense of higher education, reporting that even though families are less able to pay tuition, colleges are "engaged in an arms race" to build new dorms and offer perks to students.

Cash for jobs

The Buffalo News has a good rundown of what sort of packages the federal, state, county, and town governments put together to lure big data centers like Yahoo and Verizon. One commenter tells the paper the packages are "very generous and compelling." Another says they're:

"a colossal misuse of resources," said Allison Duwe, executive director of the Coalition for Economic Justice, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization.

"Any rational person should question if this is the right way to do economic development and bring about a shared recovery," she said.

Yahoo's incentive package tops $250 million, for the creation of 125 jobs, while Verizon is being wooed with more than $600 million for around 200 jobs.

Cost-cutting

Schools in the Rochester area are learning how to be bargain shoppers, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The paper reports that districts across Monroe County are learning how to cut costs on everything from garbage bags to transportation.

Alternative energy

"Microhydro" - hydropower generated on a tiny scale - is getting a test in Madison County. It's being used in Clockville Creek to power several buildings in Oxbow Falls Park. The Post-Standard reports that the supervisor of nearby Fenner, Russell Cary, is the man behind micro. He was also an early advocate of wind power in the region, and wants microhydro to be recognized with subsidies and inducements the way wind and solar are.

Incentives for business

An architectural firm that's been based in downtown Albany for years is decamping, heading out for the new College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. Albany's mayor is criticizing the move, saying the college is scalping downtown for tenants, and the firm taking advantage of state tax breaks - even though they're not a nanotech research business.

The architects argue they're working to incorporate nanotech into their designs, and need to be closer to high tech businesses to achieve that. The conflict is all part of a larger conversation about how to incentivize businesses, and where to incentivize them to be.

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