Wed October 30, 2013

Whose fault was Norse Energy's bankruptcy?


New York’s hold on high-volume hydrofracking has entered its sixth year. So Norse Energy first tried to stay afloat until fracking’s approval, then gave up and converted to Chapter 7, a complete shutdown of operations. The company and fracking supporters cited the state’s de factor moratorium as the obvious culprit.

Norse’s former chief legal officer Dennis Holbrook says drillers just can’t compete anymore using the drilling methods still allowed in New York.

“The easiest analogy I could give you, if you had a Model T and you were racing other Model T’s and you were doing fine and the next generation of vehicles comes out and you were still being told that all you can do is use your Model T.”

But the company was still drilling vertical wells in New York. In 2010, Norse approached Buffalo-based Bradford Drilling Associates about a 30-well project in the Herkimer sandstone formation.

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Thu May 2, 2013

Home Rule case could still go to Court of Appeals, say attorneys

The state’s second highest court, the Appellate Division for the 3rd Department, has ruled in favor of New York towns with bans on gas drilling. In two decisions released Thursday, a four-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of the Towns of Dryden and Middlefield.

Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg argued for the Town of Dryden. She says the unanimous decisions put to rest the question of whether New York towns can ban drilling.

“I think that it’s quite clear that there is no dispute among them and there should be no dispute generally on this issue,” says Goldberg.

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Thu May 2, 2013
Home Rule

State appellate court upholds 'home rule' over OGSML laws

Matt Richmond/WSKG

In two separate rulings Thursday, the state's Appellate Division, Third Department has ruled that the state's Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) does not preempt municipal land use laws.

The decision on so-called 'home rule', was being closely monitored because of the implications for future resource development, which could include hydraulic fracturing or fracking. 

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Fri March 22, 2013

Arguments over fracking bans focus on one sentence

A drilling rig in Pennsylvania, where Act 13 prevents towns from controlling where drilling can take place. State courts have blocked Act 13.
Matt Richmond WSKG

Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice, explains the Town of Dryden's case to reporters after oral arguments in Albany. Also, Town of Dryden Supervisor Maryann Sumner talks about the town's rationale in passing the ban.

Oral arguments were completed Thursday in the case that will decide whether New York towns have the right to ban gas drilling. The case comes down to how the panel of four judges will interpret a single sentence.

Environmental Conservation Law 23-0303 says, "The provisions of this law shall supersede all local laws and ordinances relating to the regulation of the oil, gas and solution mining industries."

It then goes on to affirm local authority over road use and property taxes.

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Tue June 5, 2012
Marcellus Shale

Can two Ithaca lawyers keep fracking out of New York state?

Helen and David Slottje moved to Ithaca in 1999. During the next ten years, they slowly transformed from corporate lawyers to the driving force behind New York's local drilling bans.
Matt Richmond WSKG

The fate of hydraulic fracturing in New York is still being determined by state regulators.

But that doesn’t mean municipalities aren’t taking action.

There are about 100 towns in New York that have passed laws either banning hydraulic fracturing or oil and gas operations altogether. Most of the bans are temporary, about 20 are permanent.

The driving force behind those bans: two Ithaca lawyers, Helen and David Slottje.

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