natural gas

In a Schulyer County courthouse Wednesday night, 16 people were arraigned on trespassing charges for blocking the entrance to a natural gas storage facility. Three refused to pay a $250 fine and were sentenced to 15 days in jail, starting immediately.

The three protesters sentenced to jail include a retired Air Force master sergeant, a prominent scientist, and 86-year-old Roland Micklem, who leaned on his cane and told the judge that "a person’s got to do what a person’s got to do."

Winery owners have been stepping up their pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject a proposal to store natural gas liquids in the salt caverns along scenic Seneca Lake.

A small but passionate group of career vineyard farmers and winery owners had one united message to deliver to Albany recently.

“We demand that Gov. Cuomo do the right thing and deny all these permits for gas storage on the west side of Seneca Lake,” says Doug Hazlet, a Seneca Lake vineyard owner.

Flipping the script on eminent domain

Jun 6, 2014

The federal government is considering an application to build a natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County in New York. Often, the pipeline companies will use the threat of eminent domain as a way to pressure landowners into signing a lease agreement. But some landowners and activist groups are calling their bluff.

A short hike up the hill from Catherine Holleran’s house in New Milford, Pennsylvania is a small grove of maple trees.

President Barack Obama and the national press descended on the village of Cooperstown Thursday afternoon. His presence also brought out protesters both for and against the controversial process of drilling for natural gas, known as hydrofracking.

Victor Furman says it’s unfair that New York is beholden to what he calls an unfair moratorium, with such a resource at it’s feet.

Recently, Pennsylvania residents had the opportunity to voice their concerns or support for the Constitution Pipeline project, which would enter New York through Broome County and connect to an existing upstate pipeline. It was the last public hearing before its final approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

In response to what he calls "mind-boggling" rate increases for electricity this winter, Sen. Charles Schumer is asking two federal agencies to determine if customers were overcharged. Schumer says he wants the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate the wholesale electric and gas markets to make sure there wasn't price gouging.

"The FTC is the premier consumer regulator when consumers are ripped off," Schumer said. "FERC would look at wholesale rates and things like that, relationships between the different parts of the grid."

A less-heralded aspect of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 agenda is a plan to increase the number of homes and businesses burning biomass for heat. It has industry advocates excited, even if they have moderate expectations for growth.

It didn’t make his State of the State speech to the legislature, but in the longer, written version of his agenda, Cuomo says he wants to cut down the number of homes that use heating oil.

To do that, Cuomo wants to launch a biomass heating program called Renewable Heat NY.

The state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is coming under fire yet again with claims that the body’s proceedings lack transparency.

A group of elected officials, ratepayers, and environmental groups announced Thursday that they’re filing a lawsuit in state Supreme Court against the PSC in an attempt to gain access to documents relating to the future of two power plants in upstate New York.

Many of New York’s power stations are reaching the end of their operating lives, with coal-fired plants becoming less viable from both a business and environmental standpoint.

This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $150 million deal that will see the coal-fired power plant in Dunkirk converted to burn natural gas.

A proposal to build a new natural gas pipeline from Binghamton to Syracuse has been scaled back due to a lack of interest from natural gas providers.

Millennium Pipeline Company wanted to construct the line from the Southern Tier to the town of Onondaga, just south of Syracuse, along Interstate 81, connecting three existing east-west lines. But now they’re considering just going from Binghamton to Cortland and connecting two lines.

New York’s hold on high-volume hydrofracking has entered its sixth year. Norse Energy first tried to stay afloat until fracking was approved, but then gave up and converted to Chapter 7, a complete shutdown of operations. The company and fracking supporters cited the state’s de facto 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 state Public Service Commission (PSC) has come under scrutiny in recent weeks with claims that there’s a lack of transparency in its proceedings.

The commission’s handling of plans for the future of two coal-fired power plants in upstate New York has been particularly criticized.

Opposing solutions for the Cayuga and Dunkirk power plants are being considered. The options are to either upgrade transmission lines or repower the facilities with natural gas.

Anti-fracking activists are also fighting New York’s efforts to lift a ban on small natural gas storage and fueling facilities. A public information session on the matter held in Syracuse on Wednesday became about the larger natural gas industry.

New York is the only state to ban small-scale natural gas storage. That came after a 1970s facility accident in New York City. Now, under efforts from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, new fueling stations for trucks could be built as early as next year.

A group opposed to the construction of a new north-south natural gas pipeline that would run from Binghamton to Syracuse is hoping to get its message to landowners along the route before the gas company does.

Millennium Pipeline Company this May proposed building the Upstate Pipeline which would connect three east-west pipelines already in operation.

Gas storage contoversy continues to simmer

Jul 22, 2013

It’s something few people think about, but all that natural gas --and other fossil fuels -- produced by hydrofracking has to be stored somewhere before it gets to the consumer. Often used for the job: underground salt caverns like the ones near Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes. Now an out-of-state company wants to expand storage there, a plan some local residents call risky. 

About 100 environmental activists welcomed three of their own with singing that sounded like it was straight out of the civil rights movement last April, after they spent a week in jail.

Screenshot / Millennium Pipeline Company

An energy company is looking into building a natural gas pipeline from near Binghamton to the Syracuse area. Millennium Pipeline Company is currently soliciting feedback from natural gas suppliers about their proposal to connect three supply lines running east-west across upstate New York, with a north-south line.

Gas and Oil producer Lenape Resources has filed a note of appeal as part of an attempt to overturn a court decision made in March that allowed the town of Avon to maintain its moratorium on fracking. This is the third case of this kind in upstate New York.

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

People packed into the high school auditorium in Hinesburg, Vt. last week, to voice their opinions on a proposed natural gas pipeline before the Vermont Public Service Board.

A number of protestors were arrested for blockading the entrance to a natural gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes region early Monday.

At a public meeting in Hinesburg, Vt. last month, residents crowded into the town hall to ask questions about a natural gas pipeline that might be going through their community.  

Mark Ames wasn’t too happy. "I’m not interested in having a gas line either through in front of my house, 20 feet in front of my house, or behind my house, through my fields," he said.

The state’s environmental agency confirms it will miss a key deadline and delay approval of hydrofracking in New York once again. Anti-fracking forces see an opportunity in the new delay, while those waiting to benefit economically from the gas drilling process are feeling frustrated.

A return to normal winter weather means New Yorkers can expect to see a rise in their heating bills. Those using natural gas to heat their homes will see higher bills despite a 12 percent drop in pricing.

The Cuomo administration has announced two developments that could delay the start of hydrofracking in New York, and is leaving supporters and opponents with many unanswered questions.

New York State is poised to issue its final plans for regulating hydrofracking. But even with a decision imminent, there’s no guarantee this controversy will die down.

Instead, the fight will likely head to the courts.

A new study on managing wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing finds the biggest risk of contamination to drinking water supplies occurs during the disposal process.

The report is by Stony Brook University and was published this month in the journal "Risk Analysis."