Appalachian Basin

Consequences in New York as SGEIS Drags On

Dennis Holbrook, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer for Norse Energy, appeared on YNN’s Capital Tonight last week where he discussed the SGEIS hearings, the safety of hydraulic fracturing, and the benefits natural gas production provides to local communities.  The interview was a succinct piece highlighting some of the absurd claims made by critics and the benefits natural gas production is already safely and responsibly delivering to the Empire State.

In discussing the environment surrounding the proposed SGEIS, Holbrooke recounted that the process, upon completion, will have required over four years worth of review.  Indeed with over two drafts, two public outreach periods, years of research including site visits to working natural gas locations, including places where incidents occurred,  the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has done a thorough and exhaustive review taking into account all impacts production would bring.

Yet, a determined opposition still exists.  One that will bite, snarl and kick at every turn.  So driven by their individual convictions that they feel compelled, and empowered, to fight even if what they are fighting for isn’t supported by facts.  Easy enough, you can always just make them up.  Tell people “frac pools” will dot the landscape of New York.  Even if no one really knows what a “frac pool” is it sounds scary enough.  Small problem, New York would specifically outlaw the use of any impoundments other than for freshwater storage.  Not so scary anymore.  The anti’s always leave out that critical last part.

You know what is scary? Real consequences in the form of lost jobs, lost opportunity and lost hope.  In recounting the process of New York state developing rules to govern natural gas extraction, Holbrook reached a conclusion that doesn’t support New York being “open for business”.

“It likely would have been smarter to focus our resources elsewhere.”

What resources was he referring to?  Norse Energy’s decision to locate a U.S. headquarters of operations just outside of Buffalo, N.Y.  Because of continued delays however, Norse has already laid off nearly half of its employees in the Empire State.  As for the thousands of jobs and related opportunities that would have come with having a corporate headquarters, that is lost forever.

It’s too bad that New York has seemingly let the opportunity of fully developing this relationship pass with little regard.  See, Norse was already operating in the state and only wanted to develop jobs and opportunities for the friends and neighbors in the communities of which it was already a part.  A homegrown opportunity from a local resource brought about by folks who already were part of the communities where it was found.

According to Holbrook, Norse energy had been operating in New York state for nearly twenty years, developing 400 wells in western New York, 100 in central New York and all the while providing jobs for New Yorkers while investing significantly in local communities (around 6:48).  All of this worked out very well with no environmental issues of note.  That is until the SGEIS process began and the state began reacting to a vociferous opposition whose claims are sensational and counter all facts, study and science on the matter.  So instead of a company providing nearly thirty percent of their gross revenue to individuals or governments in New York that company instead is now struggling to survive.

Sounds like New York is clearly not “open for business” and instead is losing jobs and opportunities with each passing day.  Not only does this mean forgone revenues for local governments but it also means that honest New Yorkers, like Lisa Robinson and Gordon Foster, run the very real risk of losing property that has been in their family for generations because they can no longer afford to pay the taxes on their land.

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