News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
DAILY FEATURES >
 CROSSWORD  
 HOROSCOPES  
 CARTOONS  
 DEAR ABBY  
 EMPLOYMENT  
 DINING & ENTERTAINMENT  
 REAL ESTATE  
 AUTOMOTIVE  
 REMEMBRANCE  
 GOODS & SERVICES

Fracking

DOWNEY: No Natural Gas Upstate? Politics Is The Reason
LETTER from DICK DOWNEY

No Natural Gas Upstate?

Politics Is The Reason

To the Editor:

Tom Morgan’s column, “Frack Bust? Or frack Boom?” (10/10/19) cited multiple studies showing the safety and economic benefits of the shale revolution. Naturally, it drew the usual flurry of nay-sayers.

Jay Fleisher, Ph.D., worried about shallow Marcellus formations in the Catskills and Northeast Pennsylvania. As a geologist, he should know most Catskill shale is “cooked” and therefore out of play. The well depths of Northeast Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna and Bradford counties average about 7,000 feet. They’re doing just fine.

Chip Northrup’s letter credits his “Ain’t No Gas Here, Guv!” tour in the late fall of 2014 as influential in Cuomo’s decision to ban gas in New York. Maybe … but probably not. More likely was Zephyr Teachout’s 37 percent showing in the Democrat primary, the consideration that Upstate New York was not his constituency, and Cuomo’s need to move left to satisfy his NYC base. However, the anti-gas tour’s theme –  New York gas has little value so why drill? – deserves scrutiny.

Tour member Jerry Acton forecast gas productivity in New York using depth and thickness of formation data coupled with initial production numbers from 1,700 Marcellus wells along the PA/NY border.

From this, he deduced New York’s Broome and Chenango counties would be productive but little gas of value elsewhere. Unfortunately, Mr. Acton had to use limited NYS data.

More important, there was very little data on production from Pennsylvania’s Utica shale because there was virtually no drilling in that formation prior to 2014. (See EIA Monthly Dry Shale Gas Production, Oct.17, 2019.)

The Utica, a deep shale formation, now accounts for about a quarter of the Appalachian Region’s output. It was the primary formation targeted by drillers in Otsego /County. So, while Mr. Acton’s data confirms Marcellus productivity in Broome and Chenango counties, it is silent on the true total potential of gas in New York.

Tour member Lou Allstadt used the industry’s flight from New York as an indicator that the state’s gas drilling was deemed unprofitable. Unprofitable? Yes, but not from a lack of natural gas.

Politics killed gas development in New York. Rex Tillison, then Mobil Exxon’s CEO, requested a meeting with Governor Cuomo to discuss moratorium issues. Cuomo refused. Weeks later Exxon Mobil cancelled all its New York leases.

A good move for Exxon Mobil. It had nothing to do with gas in the ground; New York was NOT “open for business.”

Likewise the small operators. Some went to court; some stuck it out until their bank accounts ran dry. Mr. Allstadt characterized the completion of Gastem’s Ross #1 on Crumhorn Mountain in the Town of Maryland as unprofitable. That’s why they left , he said.

Wrong. In their conversations, discussions with landowner lawyers, annual reports and targeted sites, Gastem (and Lenape O&G) intentions were crystal clear; they wanted local gas for local use. Gastem’s limited vertical frack at Ross #1 proved there was a local supply to meet the company’s goal. Politics killed opportunity. That’s why they left.

Mr. Northrup’s role in the tour was to turn a rogue’s eye view on the financial machinations of the big oil and gas companies. This didn’t have much to do with the lack of gas in New York, but Mr. Northrup has a long history of low-balling natural gas reserves, particularly in the Marcellus. Should we heed his “expert” advice?

In November 2014, the gas output of the Appalachian Region (Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and MIA New York) was 14 billion cubic feet per day (Bcfd). As of the Energy Information Agency’s Oct. 17 graphs, it has now more than doubled. This gain happened in spite of a politically limited pipeline capacity, the denial of normal markets on the East Coast and New England, and an oversupply of discounted natural gas now piped to the South and the Southeast.

The “Ain’t No Gas Here, Guv!” tour had little to do with convincing Cuomo to ban gas and little to do with reality. The reality is that Upstate New York without natural gas is left swinging in the wind of expensive renewables.

NYSEG rate case, anyone? Just the first of many rate hikes.

DICK DOWNEY

Otego

NORTHRUP: Too Little Gas Under NY To Be Fracked Profitably
LETTER from CHIP NORTHRUP

Too Little Gas Under NY

To Be Fracked Profitably

To the Editor:

A recent column in your newspaper listed the benefits of fracking to Pennsylvanians – where, evidently, all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average, implying that the same could be true in New York if we just got to fracking the place.

Catch is, as some Cooperstonians proved years ago, there’s probably not much around here worth fracking.  A recent Penn State study backs up our findings.

Retired Mobil executive Lou Allstadt, geologist Brian Brock, systems analyst Jerry Acton and myself, a well-known-know-it-all, made presentations showing why the productive shale gas field in Pennsylvania was unlikely to extend into New York State.

Each of us offered a proof. Lou pointed out why the major companies had not leased into New York. I pointed out that most of the leasing was by wildcat speculators. Brian Brock explained why the geology was not conducive to commercial exploitation of the Marcellus or Utica shales.

And Jerry Acton mapped the productivity of the shale wells being drilled in Pennsylvania – which is what the Penn State methodology duplicated via plagiarism.

As shown in Mr. Acton’s work, the sweet spot is indeed right across the border, but the productivity of the wells decreases rapidly as you move north towards the Susquehanna – and falls off a cliff as you move towards the Catskills, for reasons that Brian Brock could explain.

Evidently none of our findings came as surprise in Albany. Not long after we presented our findings, Governor Cuomo put a ban on high-volume high-pressure water fracking because, by then, they knew there was not much here worth fracking.

There was no significant penalty in prohibiting an activity that had little economic upside in New York – where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

CHIP NORTHRUP
Cooperstown

FLEISHER: NY Marcellus Shale Too Shallow To Frack Safely

LETTER from JAY FLEISHER

NY Marcellus Shale Too

Shallow To Frack Safely

To the Editor:

Any consideration of the potential environmental hazards related to fracking must consider the rocks through which the fracking wells are drilled – it’s called the “geologic setting.”

Discussion of the hazards related to fracking that ignores the geologic setting is flawed by omission. Yet, Tom Morgan’s column in last week’s edition on the topic of fracking makes no mention of this.

As pointed out in my Letter to the Editor of April 15, 2016, fracking has absolutely no harmful environmental impact in the geologic setting of the deep-seated Bakken Formation in Montana, where the rocks being fracked lie 10,000 feet beneath the surface.

Elsewhere, the potential for environmental contamination is real, due to a shallow geologic setting, as is the case in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus Shale is just a few hundred feet below the surface.

The difference in depth between these two locations determines the potential for groundwater contamination.

Cherry-picking data or eluding to credible agencies without proper citation is a common practice when raising issues related to environmental quality vs. economic gain. To cite Heartland Institute as a data source, which Morgan does, immediately brings into question his objectivity.

After all, this is also the reference that ignores the overwhelming body of scientific information that indicates our atmosphere and oceans are warming, glaciers and ice caps are shrinking and sea level keeps creeping up, all of which are linked to climate change.

Let’s be clear: When it comes to fracking the potential for environmental contamination depends for the most part on the geologic setting.

P. JAY FLEISHER, Ph.D.
Geologist
Town of Milford

  MORGAN: Fracking Bust? Or Fracking Boom?

MONEY MATTERS • Column

Fracking Bust?

Or Fracking Boom?

By TOM MORGAN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

 Who you gonna believe?

When people argue over contentious issues today they often follow a predictable pattern. He cites a scientific study that says blah blah about climate change. She cites a scientific study that claims the opposite.

Oh yeah? He says her study was published in a junk journal. Oh yeah? She lists the scientist’s credentials. And claims his scientist has the wrong degrees.

Oh yeah? He says her scientist is sponsored by oil companies. Oh yeah? She says his scientist is paid by government grants that pretty much require compliance.

They Google in their sleep to bolster their arguments. They greet their partners good-mornings with snarls. “By god I’m right. Her so-called scientific expert worked at a Mobil gas station in high school.”

All of this opens a can of worms. The chief worm is the question: Can you believe what you read or see or hear on a contentious issue?

Here is an example of what I mean.

Governor Cuomo banned fracking in this state. After six years, his environmental department backed him up with several reasons.

Fracking could and did pollute. With particulate matter. And with methane and organic chemicals.

Fracking could and did contaminate drinking water. With methane and fracking fluids. Because of improper wells.

Fracking contaminated soils and water by way of surface spills. It also caused earthquakes.

A fancy institute weighed in by pooh-poohing the so-called economic boom fracking brings. The promised jobs don’t come in the number that frackers promise. Studies that describe the boom are flawed.

Meanwhile….comes another study published in a big science journal. Its results are the opposite of what New York’s environmental officials declared.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Geological Survey. Researchers from Penn State studied 21,000 water samples from areas near gas and oil wells in their state.

They found virtually zero methane contamination of the water. (Methane occurs naturally in lots of the state’s groundwater.)

The same researchers earlier studied 11,000 samples of water. From near 1400 gas wells in just one county. They found no problems. Actually, they found the opposite. There were trends of improving water quality in the county. Despite all the fracking.

“Since 2010 two dozen independent studies have not found any systemic impact caused by the 110,000 oil and natural gas wells in the U.S.”  This from the Heartland Institute.

Our EPA spent $29 million and 6 years to find fracking has little or no effect on groundwater.

How about the boom that wasn’t? One consumer group estimates the lower gas prices saved Pennsylvania folks and businesses $31 billion over ten years.

Economists from three big universities say the average household in Pennsylvania gets up to $1900 per year in benefits from fracking. They cite healthy rises in average income and wages. They credit fracking with a 10 percent increase in jobs in the state.

A big Chamber of Commerce study estimates fracking added $13 billion to the state’s GDP. And $7 billion in new wages.

Heartland cites other studies that debunk the “myths” that fracking pollutes water or air. It assures us that major fracking states of Pennsylvania and Texas have lower rates of asthma, birth defects and cancer than many states that have no fracking.

And the institute cites studies that claim earthquakes in fracking areas are of little significance.

I imagine some readers are Googling away already. They want to prove or disprove one side of this issue or the other.

It is a pity that it is impossible to find the truth in this and other vital matters. After all, a lot of up-staters would love to see an economic boom. Even if it was half what Pennsylvania’s is. The only booms upstate has experienced lately come during hunting season.

My grandfather reckoned the truth was usually half-way between the opposing arguments. Maybe that is where it is.

In the future maybe we will use artificial intelligence computers to resolve such issues. One side will input its data. The computer will spit it back as bull-tweedy. It will proclaim the other side’s argument worthy of five stars.

Yeah, but you can’t trust that robot. It was made by XYZ Company.  Its pension fund owns energy stocks!

From Tom…as in Morgan.

Tom Morgan, retired Oneonta investment counselor and nationally syndicated writer of this column, lives in Franklin.

KUZMINSKI: Let’s Take Control Of Our Energy Future

Column by Adrian Kuzminski, August 24, 2018

Let’s Take Control

Of Our Energy Future

Adrian Kuzminski

Recently, nearly 100 people crowded the Oneonta Town Hall to respond to a report by Otsego Now head, Jody Zakrevsky, about the controversial gas decompression station proposed for Oneonta.
The backlash was overwhelming. A long series of speakers unanimously condemned the project and demanded instead a full-scale effort to transition to renewables as soon as possible.
As the speakers pointed out, a myriad of solutions exist to the problem of inadequate natural-gas supply affecting some institutions and businesses in Oneonta. We heard about retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, replacing gas and oil furnaces with heat exchange systems, and developing local renewable energy sources, including solar and wind.
This isn’t pie in the sky. The Otsego County Conservation Association, for instance, is currently supporting a NYSERDA-funded program, Heat Smart Otsego, to promote the financial and environmental benefits of currently available non-fossil fuel technologies. Check it out.
The speakers also made clear the gravity of this issue.
We’re not just talking about inconvenience, higher costs, or limits to local economic development. We’re talking about a global crisis increasingly affecting us all.
The inability of our local community to do its part in getting us off fossil fuels is symptomatic of a larger political failure which is dangerous to our future. We have mostly relied on someone else to deal with this problem, usually in Albany or Washington.
They haven’t done the job, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to, at least not unless they’re prodded from below.
Yes, our community continues to be divided over energy policy. The editorial in last week’s edition of this paper characterized speakers at the town of Oneonta meeting as “anti-gas true believers.”
There were a couple of strident speakers, as with any large group, but nearly all were thoughtful people pointing out the very real and harmful consequences of using more gas.
Mike Zagata in last week’s paper also misinforms the public by talking about “clean-burning natural gas,” when in fact there’s no such thing. The combustion of natural gas unavoidably produces CO2, a polluting greenhouse gas. Zagata admits as much by worrying if plant growth will absorb the extra CO2.
Even worse, he ignores the seepage of methane from wells, pipes and compressors, which adds another, more potent greenhouse gas to the mix, making natural gas as bad as any other fossil fuel.
By contrast, Zakrevsky, to his credit, bemoaned his fate at the Town of Oneonta meeting, confessing to the crowd his own confusion and lack of expertise. He was hired to promote local economic development, he noted, not to make energy policy. He’s exactly right. He and Otsego Now are not qualified to make energy policy and should not be tasked with that burden.
What was painfully obvious at the meeting was the lack of coordination among capable parties interested in developing a local energy plan. Currently we have groups too often confined to their respective silos – elected officials, economic development people, the local business community, the colleges, the hospitals, the environmentalists, etc.

Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA & The Freeman’s Journal – Otsego Now President Jody Zakrevsky details decompressor-station plans to the Oneonta Town Board and 100 audience members Aug. 9.

Each of them is working on their piece of the elephant. What’s lacking is an effective mechanism for combining their resources and talents to develop a plan for all of us.
In my last column I mentioned the Tompkins County Energy Roadmap (Google it!) as a precedent for what should happen here. That initiative began in 2010 as part of a Tompkins County Energy Strategy for 2020. It was first developed as a project by Cornell graduate students.
In 2014, a steering committee was formed composed of individuals “who represent the breadth of experience, interest and perspectives within the community regarding our energy future.” The draft Energy Roadmap was then presented to numerous community groups and has since become the focus of Tompkins county energy policy.
This Energy Roadmap doesn’t rely on hiring expensive outside consultants, who are often ignorant of local circumstances; nor does it narrow options by handing authority to a single, unprepared agency. Instead it utilizes the expertise already found in a variety of existing organizations and individuals.
We may not have Cornell University, but we have SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. We have Otsego 2000, OCCA, Citizen Voices, chambers of commerce, the Land Trust, Farm Bureau and Sustainable Otsego, and others. We have individual engineers and scientists and retired executives who’ve worked for multi-national corporations. We have the talent.
Let me suggest, again, that the Otsego County Board of Representatives, in a bi-partisan spirit, is the logical authority to establish an Otsego Energy Task Force. A large, diverse umbrella group is far more likely to develop a comprehensive, viable energy strategy that gets it right, and to do justice to the needs of the community as a whole.
The point is to get key people in the same room and tackle the problem. It’s up to the County Board to make this happen. The time is NOW.

Adrian Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.

KUZMINSKI: Natural Gas, No! Renewables, Yes!… AND COUNTY CAN TAKE LEAD

Column by Adrian Kuzminski for August 10, 2018

… AND COUNTY CAN TAKE LEAD

Natural Gas, No!

Renewables, Yes!

Adrian Kuzminski

It’s recently been reported that Otsego Now, the economic development arm of Otsego county, is proposing a natural gas decompression station in Oneonta to help alleviate energy shortages that have plagued some businesses and institutions in the city.
Otsego Now is applying for a $3 million grant to help facilitate the project, which is estimated to cost $17 million.
Currently, SUNY Oneonta, Fox hospital, and Lutz Feeds suffer interrupted gas service during winter cold snaps when demand exceeds supply. Gas service is maintained for residential customers only by having these institutions inconveniently switch over to more expensive oil.
There has been talk of enlarging the existing NYSEG DeRuyter gas pipeline from Norwich to Oneonta. But Otsego Now Executive Director Jody Zakrevsky is quoted as saying that the estimated cost has ballooned to $100 million and may take a decade.
Zakrevsky estimates that the gas needed could be delivered to the proposed decompression station by two or three trucks a day for a couple of weeks a year.
This story leaves me scratching my head. Zakrevsky reports that natural gas is not only cheaper than oil, but that oil “pollutes more.” This ignores compelling evidence, first developed by Cornell University researchers, that natural gas is as much a polluting greenhouse gas as any other fossil fuel.
The pollution comes from cumulative seepage of methane during the life-cycle of natural gas production, from drilling to end-use. By the time the gas would get delivered to Oneonta – in what some call “bomb trucks” – the polluting damage would already have been done, starting back at the well-heads in Pennsylvania.
So why are we looking at the local energy scene solely through the lens of natural gas?
Why is there no serious consideration of non-fossil fuel alternatives?

This schematic of a decompression site is from the website of Algas-SDI, self-identified as “a manufacturer of products and systems for the reliable deployment of clean hydrocarbon fuels worldwide.”

We are facing a climate crisis. Our warm summer days feel good, but Arctic ice is melting, storms are getting more severe, and ecological instability is staring us in the face.
Under these circumstances, as I suggested in an earlier column, any proposal to expand the use of fossil fuels ought, at a minimum, to be accompanied by an equally funded parallel proposal to develop renewable energy.
We don’t have to rely on oil or gas. Efficient, low-cost heat exchange systems, which do not burn fuel, are now widely and cheaply available. The minimal electricity required to run such systems in our area comes from relatively clean hydro-sources.
Otsego Now might do better to forget the decompressor station and apply for a $3 million grant to convert residential and non-industrial systems from natural gas to heat exchange systems, and leave gas to those few situations for which it may be essential.
Somehow, there are always excuses why we can’t do renewables. Zakrevsky tells us that “weather and expensive batteries” are issues. Somehow the weather around here hasn’t stopped other solar projects from going forward.
As for the costs, here is where government subsidies, particularly from New York State, ought to come in. How much solar power is needed to make up for two or three gas trucks a day for a couple of weeks a year? How much solar power capacity can you buy for $17 million? How about a cost-benefit analysis?
For you pro-business people out there leery of borrow-and-spend, remember that’s how the Erie Canal, the railroads, the electrical grid, indeed America itself, mostly got built.
Neither government (socialism) nor business (capitalism) can do it by themselves. Government ought to be giving business the infrastructure it needs so that private enterprise can prosper, and it ought to make sure that the infrastructure we build doesn’t hurt the environment.
These kinds of decisions are too important to be left to a small agency like Otsego Now. What’s needed is comprehensive leadership – perhaps an Otsego County Energy Task Force – drawn from broad sectors of the community.
Other places are already doing it; just Google, for example, the “Tompkins County Energy Roadmap.”
Our Board of Representatives could take the lead in setting up such a Task Force for Otsego County, ideally composed of members from the colleges, businesses, non-profits, and other key sectors.
Once established, the Task Force ought to be empowered to make the decisions now left to Otsego Now. It should prioritize getting renewable energy subsidies, and be prepared to fight for them if they are not available.
Such a Task Force would be crucial in giving Otsego County a voice promoting its energy interests in Albany and beyond – something now sorely lacking.

Adrian Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick College philosophy
professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.

KUZMINSKI: More Gas? Only If Paired With Equal-Sized Renewable Project

Column by Adrian Kuzminski, May 5, 2018

More Gas? Only If Paired With
Equal-Sized Renewable Project

Adrian Kuzminski

When fracking was proposed in New York State a decade ago, the potential benefits were jobs, economic growth, lower energy prices, and energy security.
Opponents (like me) worried not only about local degradation of the environment but about the global consequences of methane seepage and emissions for the climate as a whole.
In most places outside of New York State, the frackers won the argument, and in fact much of what they claimed has come to pass.
Vast new reserves have been opened up by fracking, perhaps even more than anticipated. The United States has moved from deep energy dependence on often unfriendly foreign sources to a greater degree of energy self-sufficiency.
The US has become a net exporter of natural gas and is now able to leverage its new energy resources in foreign policy negotiations. Fracking has sparked renewed economic activity and a sense of energy security has been restored.
But the cost of these short-terms gains may yet overwhelm us. Professor Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell has a sobering new video on YouTube: “Shale Gas: The Technological Gamble That Should Not Have Been Taken.” Check it out; go to youtube.com and type “technological gamble” in the search line.
Ingraffea goes back six years and compares the climate change predictions made by a range of experts then with the latest data now available.
The new evidence shows those predictions to have been wide of the mark in the worst possible way. Global warming is happening much faster than predicted.

Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea’s conclusion in 2013 that natural gas contributes more to global warming than other fossil fuels changed the debate.

Ingraffea puts the blame for accelerating climate change squarely on the fracking revolution. As its critics have worried all along, the overall greenhouse emissions of fracked natural gas turn out to be as bad if not worse than any other fossil fuel.
Fracking has not been the “bridge fuel” the industry advocated. Ingraffea points out that fracking has extended the fossil fuel age, dramatically increased global warming, and, by providing continued low-priced gas and oil, frustrated the development of renewables.

This issue is playing out locally as well. There’s an energy crunch in Oneonta, with NYSEG interrupting gas service to some of their larger customers (SUNY, Fox, and some local businesses) because of limited supply.
In spite of the fracking boom in neighboring Pennsylvania, the infrastructure for delivering more gas in the Oneonta area right now doesn’t exist. The secondary pipeline serving the area isn’t big enough to meet demand.
The same arguments for the benefits of fracked gas used a decade ago are once again in circulation by those calling for more gas: It’ll bring jobs, stability, and economic growth.
Without a functioning economy we have social chaos, it’s true; but without environmental protections we have eco-catastrophe.
Transitioning to renewables remains the unavoidable answer in both cases. Renewables address the climate issue while providing economic relief with
jobs in the new industries we so desperately need. But it’s not happening fast enough.
That’s a political problem – one unfortunately not about to be solved.
The gas proponents now, as before, are focused on short-term benefits and seem oblivious to the bigger threat. Those who appreciate the long-term threat, on the other hand, have no immediate and practical solutions to the energy challenge.
Yes, of course, we must transition to renewables ASAP, but it’s not just a matter of effortlessly dropping one energy source and plugging in another.
There are serious technical problems (limits to electrical applications, intermittent power and inadequate electricity storage) and financial ones (funding the required large-scale infrastructure changes).
It’s time to recognize both the urgency of climate change as well as the need to buy some time to put in place technologies and financing that can transition us to renewables as quickly as possible.
It’s time to recognize both that the unintended consequences of gas may be worse than the problems it solves, and that those suffering from economic insecurity can’t afford to wait around indefinitely for promised but undelivered jobs in renewable energy.
What’s needed is restraint and prudence. Until we get to renewables, we’re clearly going to continue to overheat the planet to keep the economy going and avoid social breakdown.
How much more warming can we stand? It’s not clear, but major new pipelines and gas power plants are climate-denying projects that promise to take us over the edge.
In the meantime, we have growing local economic distress which might be relieved by delivering more gas to Oneonta by enlarging its existing pipeline.
Improving that pipeline and its capacity would clearly boost the local economy; a redone pipeline might also be more efficient.
But any expansion of gas consumption, even a small one like this, can no longer be justified unless correlated with a funded renewable energy project of at least the same scale.
Nothing less is acceptable any more.

Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and moderator of Sustainable Otsego, lives in Fly Creek.

Middlefield Supervisor Brings Lifetime Of Service To County
DAVID BLISS, R-DISTRICT 7

Middlefield Supervisor Brings

Lifetime Of Service To County

Newly elected county Rep. David Bliss sits for a photo shoot by the Susquehanna River – on the Town of Middlefield side. (The far shore is the Town of Otsego County.) He is one of seven freshman county reps taking office Jan. 1. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Newly elected county Rep. David Bliss sits for a photo shoot by the Susquehanna River – on the Town of Middlefield side. (The far shore is the Town of Otsego County.) He is one of seven freshman county reps taking office Jan. 1. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of seven profiles, one each on the seven new members of the Otsego County Board of Representatives elected Nov. 3, that will be posted each Wednesday afternoon up until they take office Jan. 1. Next week, Andrew Marietta, District 8  (Town of Otsego, including Cooperstown west of the Susquehanna).

By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN – Dave Morris, one of David Bliss’ fellow realtors with Hubbell’s Real Estate, remembers when Morris’ daughters were growing up and riding horses, and he would buy hay from Bliss’ father, Claude.

OtsegoCountySeal-Color-500pix_largeThe truck would pull up, and David Bliss and his older brother Tim would toss heavy bales of hay into Morris’ barn, one after another, until the loft was filled.    When football practice began in August, other players might drag as they got into shape, but the Bliss boys were always in peak condition, Morris recalled.

Farming and youth sports are still big parts of Dave Bliss’ life.  “I sell real estate to support my farming habit,” he joked the other day.   He went back into the family business after graduating from SUNY Oneonta – he played basketball there briefly – and teaching for a couple of years.

And he went from player to coach, helping out with CCS boys’ basketball for a while in the 1990s and coaching American Legion baseball in the summers.  He coached a CCS girls’ softball team to the sectional finals at Lemoyne a few years ago, among the activities that won him the Clark Sports Center’s coveted Fetterman Award for service to youth in 2013.

Another aspect of his life has been serving in local government.   Following in his father’s footsteps – Claude Bliss, who passed away in 1995, was on the town board when Middlefield adopted zoning, and served as highway superintendent for a period – Dave joined the town Zoning Board of Appeals in 1973.  Then, after two years on the town board, was elected town supervisor.

Jubilant Local Fracking Foes Shift Focus To Renewables, Pipeline

Jubilant Local Fracking Foes

Shift Focus To Renewables, Pipeline

By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Editions of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 25-26, 2014

COOPERSTOWN

Next, renewables, Lou Allstadt, a Sustainable Otsego mainstay, tells celebrants at the Cafe Ommegang Wednesday, Dec. 17, after Governor Cuomo declared fracking will be banned in New York State.  In the back, from left, are Nicole Dillingham, Kim Jastremski, Larry Bennett, John Davis and Marion Carl. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman's Journal)
Next, renewables, Lou Allstadt, a Sustainable Otsego mainstay, tells celebrants at the Cafe Ommegang Wednesday, Dec. 17, after Governor Cuomo declared fracking will be banned in New York State. In the back, from left, are Nicole Dillingham, Kim Jastremski, Larry Bennett, John Davis and Marion Carl. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman’s Journal)

Today, Albany. Tomorrow, Kalangadoo, Australia.

While local fracking foes were elated by Governor Cuomo’s Wednesday, Dec. 16, announcement that he plans to ban the controversial practice in New York State, they were already looking beyond.

The widest-reaching is Lou Allstadt, the retired Mobil executive vice president, whose short-term plans include appearing on a Jan. 12 panel at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. Fellow panelists will be Angus Gillespie, a Shell vice president from The Hague, and Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board chair.

“I hope we don’t spend the whole time on (fracking),” said Allstadt, who for the past year also has been active in the Citizens Climate Lobby, which is asking Congress to enact a fee at the mine head and the drilling pad to encourage customers to move away from fossil fuels. “The whole big picture is renewables, and how do you transition to that.”

As fracking foes gathered at Cafe Ommegang within hours of the governor’s announcement to celebrate their victory, discussion – and subsequent interviews – turned to a number of outstanding issues:

• A ban on the spreading of sometimes radioactive brine from fracking operations in northeast Pennsylvania on Upstate roads to reduce dust. Dumping of other kinds of fracking waste in Upstate landfills is also a concern.

• Halting the “fracking infrastructure,” as Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham put it, including the Constitution Pipeline through Delaware County and a new compressor station on the existing Dominion Pipeline at Minden, Montgomery County, 10 miles north of Cherry Valley.

• Quality-of-life initiatives to position Otsego County for an era where fossil fuels play less of a role. Dillingham mentioned promoting organic farming, the breweries and farmers’ markets. Bob Eklund, New Lisbon, said the Butternut Valley Alliance hopes to encourage solar energy, and promote its towns as artists’ communities.

In June, Allstadt was on Capitol Hill with 600 individuals affiliated with the Citizens Climate Lobby who in a few days were able to discuss the fee idea with 507 of the 535 senators and congressmen.

The fee would raise the price of fossil fuels, discouraging their use, and the revenues generated would be distributed to Americans to use as they wish, he said. At-border fees would prevent foreign companies from unfairly competing with U.S. concerns.

“Just doing away with fracking doesn’t help you unless you reduce total fossil-fuel use,” said Allstadt, who has received queries, in addition to Kalangadoo, from anti-frackers in Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Poland and Bulgaria, and provided them primarily with scientific studies that support the cause.

Allstadt declined to predict when legislation will be introduced, saying the Citizens don’t wish to see that happen until a clear bipartisan majority of support is achieved. “This is not a liberal or conservative issue,” he said. “We all have to deal with climate change.”

While it is supporting fight against the “fracking infrastructure,” already filing testimony in Schoharie-based Stop the Pipeline’s legal challenge, Otsego 2000 is also moving on, said Dillingham. It organized its second Glimmerglass Film Days in November, and is proceeding with its historic preservation awards and programs to help farmers.

The fracking ban, though, “removed a cloud that has been hanging over our region,” allowing people buy homes, move their families here and start businesses without worry, she said.

Since the fracking decision, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, has visited the county, and told a Sustainable Otsego delegation meeting in Cooperstown that he will introduce a resolution recognizing climate change and the need to combat it, according to SO Moderator Adrian Kuzminski.

In some ways, it will be harder to combat multiple manifestations of “fracking infrastructure” than promoting the single focus of the ban, said Kuzminski, whose listserve was able to turn out hundreds of anti-frackers on short notice.

Still, “it reaffirms some kind of belief that the system is not totally broken, politically, that big money will carry the day,” said Kuzminski, a philosopher who has written such books as “Fixing the System,” a history of population. “Coming up against the largest industry on the planet, it turned out they couldn’t turn the trick because of grass-roots resistance.”

To Frack (Rock)? Or Not To Frack (Hard Place)?

To Frack (Rock)? Or Not To Frack (Hard Place)?

Editorial By Alan Chartock, Capital Connection

For The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 11-12, 2014

When politicians take money for their campaign coffers, they owe something back. That’s because there is honor among, well, politicians and lobbyists. If you see tons of money going to politicians from the real-estate industry, you’d be foolish not to think that the people who own hotels and other big buildings want something back for their bucks. As Festus Haggen used to say on Gunsmoke, “Don’t you see?”

Now everyone is waiting to see whether Governor Cuomo will allow hydrofracking in New York State. Cuomo is brilliant at both political strategy and fundraising (about $45 million for the last campaign) but he is caught up in a huge pincer movement between those who hate the idea of potentially polluting our water and further despoiling our air and those who want to make a buck from fracking.

My hero, legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, put it to Cuomo this way: “Your father was perhaps the best governor New York State ever had. And if you take the money that they want to give you for going along with fracking and injuring people for generations to come, you will go down as perhaps the worst.” Those were pretty powerful words and I suspect they left Cuomo reeling.

Fracking puts Cuomo between a rock and a hard place. He doesn’t know what to do. As a result of this predicament, the governor’s top people were almost certainly told to stall. So first, the commissioner in charge of environmental conservation studied the problem to death, then transferred the ball to the health commissioner who eventually resigned and went elsewhere. It’s tough to be a medical professional of first rank and have to carry a governor’s political water.

Many people speculated that once Cuomo got through the election he would call for a modified fracking plan for New York, whereby localities that voted to allow fracking would be allowed to “Drill baby drill” under strict supervision. They suspected that the Solomon-like Cuomo would attempt to cut the baby in half. Once the cork was removed, however, the genie would be out of the bottle and fracking would become a reality in the Empire State. But not so fast – there are some intervening political realities.

Cuomo has lost many voters on the left wing of the Democratic Party. Having styled himself as a social progressive and a pro-business fiscal conservative, the governor is getting beaten up by the more progressive members of his party. Fracking is no exception.

A recent Pew poll showed that fracking is getting more and more unpopular among Democrats. So now the rock and the hard place are even closer together. After all, Cuomo got a million fewer votes in the last election than he got the time before. Many of those lost votes were those of angry Democrats who just stayed home. Since Cuomo is much smarter than I am, he’s got to understand that by accepting the money and not taking Pete Seeger’s advice against advancing fracking, he will lose even more of his natural voters.

 

Fracking, Not Casinos, Would Better Benefit

Fracking, Not Casinos, Would Better Benefit

Upstate NY Economy, Columnist Concludes

Joe Nocera
Joe Nocera

By banning fracking and backing casinos, Governor Cuomo got it backwards, New York Times’ columnist Joe Nocera opined in Saturday’s newspaper.

“Anyone who cares about the economic viability of New York State should be troubled by these two decisions,” Nocera wrote.  “It is fracking — despite risks — that has the potential to boost struggling communities, by providing well-paying, middle-class jobs. Casinos, meanwhile, are a road to nowhere. The Cuomo administration got it exactly backward. ”  READ MORE

Frack Ban May Embolden Other States To Follow Suit

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SAYS

Frack Ban May Embolden

Other States To Follow Suit

NGLogo560x430-cb1343821768While two dozen U.S. municipalities and at least two countries, Bulgaria and France, have also adopted bans, states have been slower to act. Fracking opponents say New York, which surprised them Wednesday with the boldest move of any state so far, will change that.

“It definitely has a national political impact … It really has a domino effect,” says Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Keeping Dirty Fuels in the Ground initiative. READ MORE…

Ommegang Praises Governor’s Choice Of Clear Water Over ‘Shortterm Interests’

Ommegang Praises Governor’s Choice

Of Clear Water Over ‘Shortterm Interests’

brewery-ommegang-logoCOOPERSTOWN – Brewery Ommegang issued a statement a few minutes ago congratulating Governor Cuomo on his decision to ban fracking in New York State, saying “the legacy of clean water should take precedence over shortterm interests.”

Here is the statement in full:

“Brewery Ommegang congratulates Governor Andrew Cuomo who, heeding the advice of Department of Health commissioner Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens, has prohibited hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in New York State.

MAYOR KATZ: GOVERNOR ACTED FOR RESIDENTS, ENVIRONMENT

Fracking Foes Rejoice At News Of State Ban

Fracking Foes Rejoice

At News Of State Ban

Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham gives a big hug to fellow fracking foe Bob Eklund at a celebration now underway at Cafe Ommegang following today's news that Governor Cuomo is banning fracking in New York State. "This is historic, this is euphoria," Dillingham said when more formal remarks were solicited during the gathering. "This is not for us. This is not for our families. This is not for our children," Eklund said of the controversial fracking process. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman's Journal)
Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham gives a big hug to fellow fracking foe Bob Eklund at a celebration now underway at Cafe Ommegang following today’s news that Governor Cuomo is banning fracking in New York State. “This is historic, this is euphoria,” Dillingham said when more formal remarks were solicited during the gathering.  When he first heard about fracking, Eklund said, he thought to himself, “This is not for us. This is not for our families. This is not for our children.”  (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman’s Journal)

SLIDE SHOW: JOIN THE CELEBRATION AT CAFE OMMEGANG

 

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103