Monday, December 17, 2012

Meanwhile... NYS Quietly Plans to...
(Wait for it...) Burn More Natural Gas

[Original post Dec. 15.  Quick update Dec. 17.]

I noticed this beneath-the-radar development sometime last week on a link supplied by the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York

JLCNY is the "coalition of coalitions," and has emerged as the leading, landowner-oriented voice on the pro-drilling, pro-fracking, pro-development side of the New York's Ceaseless Shale Gas Debates (though it has been often rendered invisible by state media's heroic preference for untruthfully seeing this contest solely as Homespun Greens Versus Heartless Industry).

This is an obscure document — several pages out of reams of annual flow — posted by a relatively obscure state agency, the Public Service Commission.
NYS Public Service Commission Starts Proceedings to Expand Natural Gas Availability and Use

I haven't yet had a chance to absorb all of it, or all of the associated filings so far, but I think it's fair to say this represents a quiet shift in New York State energy policy — five years into the shale gas technological revolution:  The Empire State now proposes to comb through its thick catalog of outdated rules in order to get itself consuming more natural gas!

(Maybe not more natural gas from New York — but natural gas, nonetheless, much of it increasingly fracked from out of state.)

This policy shift is necessarily quiet, of course, because it's so embarrassing, hypocritical, and two-faced:  Upstate New York is geologically host to an estimated 20 percent of the now-essentially-proven Marcellus Shale resource, and it overlies who knows what proportion of the still-developing prospects in similar Utica and Upper Devonian shales.

And yet none of that indigenous resource has been tested, explored, or produced using full-scale technology — on account of New York's hotly contested moratorium on any drilling permit requiring a high-volume completion (which, by my stubborn reckoning, is now actually approaching the five-year mark, not the four-and-a-half year mark).

The NYS PSC file is Case Number 12-G-0297, and it can be read in full — as the paperwork piles up, and the decision-making evolves — by searching for those documents here.

As always, without hand-holding by sophisticated persuasive interests, state media reps are oblivious, unknowing, and incapable of independent analysis.  But I challenge any journalist, researcher, or citizen who truly cares about the full, honest story of New York's increasingly conflicted relationship with fossil fuels to look into this further, and to report the news.

You'll have your choice of angle and spin:

Real-deal finger-pointing:  New York is truly a selfish resource pig — hungry for all the benefits of natural gas, but flinching from the burdens and responsibility of its production.

hrugging and apologetic:  Hey, it's complicated.

It's not as though the PSC, as an arm of the Cuomo Administration, hasn't specifically sought coverage of its ordinarily dull planning efforts, which offer an unassailable net win for the consumption side of the state's economy — even without accounting for the environmental side, which is also a net win.  I noticed the second time through the file that one of the first posted items is a press release, which helpfully connects the dots between the PSC's natural gas expansion effort and the governor's broader "Energy Highway" initiative:

Press Release -- Gov. Cuomo's "Energy Highway" Plan Includes More Natural Gas

Even with The Cuomo Imprint, however (which ordinarily would be reported Nine Ways from Sunday), the only coverage I've seen so far on this was in the Albany paper.  That piece unaccountably managed to avoid all reference to fracking, hydrofracking, or hydraulic fracturing.  It did happen to mention the economic impact of shale gas from out of state, whatever the hell that stuff is.