Tag: ProPublica

N.Y. Governor Signs Bill for Natural Gas Development

Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) this week signed a bill to update the state’s laws governing oil and gas drilling, at the same time making sure that the public knew his Administration was going to be vigilant about environmental consequences. (News release.)

The broadly supported legislation addresses spacing units and setback requirements and is intended to encourage and/or rationalize horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, key processes for developing the Marcellus Shale’s natural gas deposits. The question now becomes whether the Paterson Administration will carry out the regulatory implementation and oversight with the intention of making the law work or will be so sensitive to environmental activists, advocacy journalism and political pressure as to sabotage the energy development (and Upstate’s economy) in the process.

One has to give the administration the benefit of the doubt, but there’s still cause for concern. In an interview on the public radio station WNYC, Paterson’s deputy secretary for the environment, Judith Enck, laid out a series of regulatory requirements, monitoring and controls, reasonable enough sounding, and, you bet, bet attention to water quality is critical. But in saying that the companies must disclose all the chemicals being used in the drilling process and other comments, Enck seems to buy into the thesis of drilling’s opponents and their allies in media outfits like WNYC and ProPublica, advocacy that produces banner headlines like the Albany Times-Union’s

Upstate New York’s looming natural gas nightmare

Regulators asleep as lawmmakers attempt to declare vast acreage open to the energy industry’s iffy underground fracturing technique

Or today’s headline, “Paterson approves law on risky gas drilling

Iffy underground fracturing technique? Risky gas drilling? Good grief. May look that way from an Albany newsroom or the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but …good grief. From a very good API briefing/fact sheet on hydrofracking:

 

Application of hydraulic fracturing techniques, to increase oil and gas recovery, is estimated to account for 30 percent of U.S. recoverable oil and gas reserves and has been responsible for the addition of more than 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to meet the nation’s energy needs.

 

So iffy it accounts for 30 percent of U.S. oil and gas production.

Maybe we’re overreacting, but we’ve seen far too many examples of activists helping to generate media reports, which are then seized by the activists to generate even more media reports, which alarm the alarmable politicians, who propose more regulations that damage the economy but satisfy their core voters so everybody’s happy except why is my heating bill so high?

If enough obstacles can be thrown up in New York to hamper development of the Marcellus Shale’s great potential, then that “success” will be used to try to stop natural gas production throughout the Appalachian States. And energy security will be ever further away.

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‘Public Interest’ Reports: Energy Development is Bad

Reading through the alumni bulletin the other day, we spotted an item about Columbia J-School grads going to work for ProPublica:

ProPublica, a nonprofit public interest journalism newsroom, continues to build its staff of investigative reporters. After receiving hundreds of applications, five new staffers were hired…

Right, ProPublica.  Another “public interest” journalism project, well-funded by foundations, not accountable to the marketplace. Supplying investigative projects to media outlets. Wonder which way its coverage will lean.

Today, we can see what kind of stories the project produces.

WNYC has learned in a joint investigation with ProPublica – a non-profit investigative news organization – that New York state regulators have been actively promoting the safety of a practice that has caused environmental damage elsewhere. And they may not be ready to handle the regulatory complexities. WNYC’s Ilya Marritz has the story.

REPORTER: For over a decade, gas companies have been intensively tapping unconventional plays in western states like Colorado. Drill rigs have brought a lot of wealth, but at the same time they’ve dredged up a host of environmental problems – contaminating water supplies and drying up aquifers.

The culprit is a practice called hydraulic fracturing. It’s never been done much in New York. But it’s the only way to get gas out of the Marcellus. Basically the driller blasts the bottom of the well shaft with water, sand, and chemicals, under very high pressure in order to free up the gas. Hydrofracking demands a huge amount of water of water – up to six million gallons per well.

And here’s how the Albany Times-Union plays the 2,700-word story:

And from the website:

Upstate New York’s looming natural gas nightmare
Regulators asleep as lawmmakers attempt to declare vast acreage open to the energy industry’s iffy underground fracturing technique

They’re aghast at hydraulic fracturing? Calling it toxic? Criminy.

If you can manage to demonize one of the basic processes now used widely in oil and natural gas production in the United States, well, turn out the lights, bundle up and put the car up on blocks.

This report is evidence of a journalistic trend that should profoundly trouble free-market and business advocates. With newspapers cutting staff, more and more editors will be looking for ways to fill the paper. So now you have “independent” groups doing journalism, offering their reports in the “public interest.”

This manifestation, at least, is clearly political, anti-business. From ProPublica: “Lead funding for this effort is being provided by the Sandler Foundation, with Herbert Sandler serving as Chairman of ProPublica; other leading philanthropies also providing important support. A Board of Directors and a Journalism Advisory Board have also been formed.”

Herb and Marion Sandler are prominent California bankers (now retired) and major contributors to liberal causes and candidates. From a New York Times Sunday Magazine profile:

Since the late 1980s, the Sandlers used their wealth to finance a variety of nonprofit organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and Acorn, the grass-roots organizers. They helped found the Center for Responsible Lending, where they are among the largest benefactors. They are also among the very few philanthropists in the country who finance basic scientific research, at the University of California at San Francisco. And they have set up nonprofits to conduct research into parasitic diseases and asthma. In 2003, they started the Center for American Progress, which is intended to be a liberal counterweight to the heavyweight policy centers of the right, like the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. So far, the Sandlers have given around $20 million to the center.

Acorn? So now the man who funded the notoriously secretive, corrupt and hard-left activist group, Acorn, is able to pay his way onto the front page of newspapers like the Albany Times-Union. 

It’s as if George Soros had a free wire service, operating under the guise of “public interest.”

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