It was another busy day for hydrofracking news at the state Capitol. Here’s a roundup:
– State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Tuesday that his office had settled a shareholder resolution it filed with Cabot Oil & Gas, a Houston-based energy company that has been very active along the New York border in Pennsylvania’s portion of the Marcellus Shale.
The company, according to DiNapoli’s office, has agreed to publicly disclose “its policy and procedures for eliminating or minimizing the use of toxic substances in its hydraulic fracturing fluids.”
“Cabot has taken a positive step to reduce risk to shareholders, the environment and the communities in which it operates,” DiNapoli said. “This agreement means that Cabot will publicly release what it is doing to use less toxic substances in its hydraulic fracturing fluids and detail how it is ensuring these efforts are being carried out.”
The state’s main pension fund owns 681,692 shares of Cabot worth $35.8 million. DiNapoli, the fund’s sole trustee, filed a shareholder petition with the company this year seeking more information on what its doing to make its fracking fluid less toxic.
In his petition, which DiNapoli has now withdrawn, DiNapoli cited Cabot’s troubles in Dimock, Pa. — a small township that gained international attention when water wells on a rural road near a drilling rig were contaminated with methane.
Also Tuesday, New York City Comptroller John Liu filed a shareholder resolution of his own with Exxon Mobil, calling on the company to release data to detailing its safety measures and safeguards built into the fracking process.
– Brad Gill, the executive director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, was in town to meet with lawmakers, a day after state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens raised the possibility of the state missing a key February deadline for the state’s proposed fracking rules.
Still, Gill said the industry remains “optimistic” the state will hit the Feb. 27 deadline. (In order to meet the deadline, the Department of Environmental Conservation would have to release a lengthy environmental review by Feb. 13.)
“Now is the time for us to just to wait and see what transpires,” Gill said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s been a marathon, not a sprint here. At this point we are just hopeful that this really happens and we are certainly going to sit back and wait for the 13th and the 27th, whatever real deadline is out there.”
Gill said missing the deadline would be “another delay in a long series” in the state’s review of fracking. The DEC first launched its environmental review in 2008, putting permits for large-scale fracking on hold.
“In the meantime, we’re all doing what we have to do,” Gill said. “Our members are working, working elsewhere, working in other states wanting to come to New York.”
– Frustrated by the state’s reluctance to share a health review of the DEC’s work before it’s completed, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, led a news conference with a number of her legislative colleagues on Tuesday calling on the state to open the process up.
Lifton unveiled a letter signed by 65 state lawmakers, which calls on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make more information public about the behind-the-scenes review, as well as open the document up to public comment and at least one public hearing. Until then, they want the review process put on hold.
“The Legislature and the public at-large must have complete faith in the integrity of this crucial proceeding,” the letter reads. “That is why there must be no rush to complete the (Department of Health) review.”
You can read the full letter after the jump.