Governor’s Race Outcome Could Change NY Natural Gas Laws

If you are a landowner in the Southern Tier, you have been precluded from drilling for natural gas on your property for the past four years by our current governor. He insured that by not letting the DEC issue regulations for the permitting of gas wells using the modern method of combining horizontal drilling with the completion technique known as hydraulic fracturing.

It is through that combination of technologies that natural gas can be produced from shale formations. The ability to produce natural gas from shale is what has led the United States to again be self-sufficient in energy production and not dependent upon importing oil and gas from the Middle East. It has also kept natural gas and gasoline prices low thus stimulating our economy.

In 2014, the governor refused to listen to his own task force, which was in the process of recommending that the state of New York permit natural gas development in the Southern Tier. Stan Lundine, former lieutenant governor, was a member of this task force. Instead, the governor listened to his former brother-in-law, Bobby Kennedy Jr., who was leading the “anti-fracking” forces in the environmental movement and as a result New York shut down the natural gas drilling business in the state. This happened despite the fact that the Obama administration’s EPA at that time had found these new technologies not to be an environmental threat and was supporting the domestic development of natural gas across the country.

The culmination of all of this nonsense is that New York continues to be one of the nation’s largest consumers of natural gas while at the same time banning its production. It has become clear that the radical wing of the environmental movement is the “tail that wags the dog” in our state. Now they are trying to stop the construction of natural gas pipelines in the state. Their goal is to stop all fossil fuel consumption — not a good idea if you depend on natural gas to heat your house or gasoline to run your car.

Recently, Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor said that if elected, he would support the task force’s recommendations of 2014. In other words, under a Molinaro administration, the DEC would tightly monitor but would also allow permits in the Southern Tier so that natural gas from the shale could be developed.

I must admit that I am not a neutral observer in this debate. At one time, I owned and operated a natural gas exploration company in this state. I believe that the United States is stronger and the environment is better-served by combining this much cleaner burning fuel which can be available at any time, with new renewable energy resources which are even cleaner but also interruptible — the wind doesn’t always blow nor does the sun always shine when power or energy is needed.

If the Southern Tier of New York could develop the vast natural gas reserves which lie beneath its surface with wind and solar energy on the surface, it could become a hub for “green firm service electricity” in the north east. Most of New England has little geologic potential for natural gas production, but we in the Southern Tier are fortunate that we do. New York state could become the leader in clean, renewable and reliable energy production for the whole region.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.