Fracking consultant breaks silence, cancels employee’s IOGA membership (UPDATED)

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A consulting company assisting with New York’s review of hydraulic fracturing says it severed ties with a gas-industry trade group after the organization “misrepresented” the company’s membership status, according to a letter sent Wednesday to state regulators.

Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported Monday that Ecology and Environment Inc. had been listed as a member of the Independent Oil and Gas Association in a letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to allow hydrofracking and shale-gas drilling in New York. The association has been one of the most-active groups lobbying in favor of fracking in the state.

The Erie County-based company had been touted as an “independent” consultant by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2011 when it was tapped to assess the economic impacts of allowing high-volume fracking in New York.

In a letter to a DEC Deputy Commissioner Eugene Leff on Wednesday, Ecology and Environment said it has never had a corporate membership with the gas-industry group, but has paid for an employee’s personal membership since 2008. But since IOGA had “misrepresented (the company’s) affiliation,” the employee’s membership has since been terminated.

“Neither E & E, nor its employees, have taken an active role in promoting any IOGA positions on fracking,” In-house Counsel and Assistant Secretary Colleen Mullaney-Westfall wrote in the letter. “In fact, E & E’s nationwide policy has been to not take any position on fracking and only provide objective environmental consulting services in that regard.”

UPDATE: In a separate letter (which was also released by DEC this afternoon), IOGA Executive Director Brad Gill says the trade group doesn’t offer corporate memberships and confirms that no Ecology and Environment employees are now members of the association. In its letter to Cuomo Monday, the trade group listed more than 200 companies as members.

Earlier Wednesday, the New York Public Interest Research Group called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rescind the state’s review of fracking, which is known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement and is meant to guide New York’s decision on whether to allow it.

Ecology and Environment’s full letter can be read below:

E&E Letter 4-24-13

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8 Comments

  1. Hugh Kimball on

    Too little. too late. The SGEIS section was clearly one-sided. Even Martens agreed back in 2011 that there would have to be changes made in the section.

  2. As I translate the letter in frackology: “…we bow humbly to those that oppose fracking as we are not as technically adept at the awesomeness of the antifrackers and we will forever be so bowed to grovel in your presence.”

    Sickening

    If I was E&E, I would have called a press conference to declare the anti’s real agenda and point them out as obstructionists. NY IS NOT OPEN FOR BUSINESS with the anti’s theatrics.

  3. The problem with lying all the time is that when you try to set the record straight, there is no one around who believes you. Who would believe, for instance, that a company affiliated in any way with IOGA wasn’t in fact affiliated with IOGA? It’s too late, the taint is in. We don’t believe the SGEIS is a fair document, there is no transparency surrounding the process and New Yorkers want the truth, not some fancy pr stuff dreamed up by the #frackers.

  4. This is more double speak. Here’s the reality… Under Cuomo NY has experienced the demise of 39,453 NY state businesses last year, Cuomo is raiding $1.75 billion from the reserves of the already over budget State Insurance Fund (SIF). Coumo can not even hold on to his democratic majority which is in the middle of a corruption scandal with “show-me-the-money culture” and “pay-to-play politics” throughout Albany. Cuomo has disenfranchised the Northern and Western part of New York with his SAFE Act.. He can’t make a decision, either way with respect to abortion laws, gambling, pit fighting or fracking. New York has the highest taxes in the nation, is the most indebted state, with 33 percent of income dedicated to borrowing. It is ranked as the least “business-friendly” state in the country and if that were not bad enough NY has the distinction of being the least free state in the union and is called the “Nanny State” with politicians legislating what we eat and drink. Municipal governments from Nassau County to Yonkers to Syracuse are teetering. And during Mr. Cuomo’s time in office, unemployment has risen above the national average. 9% of the state’s 2000 population left for another state between 2000 and 2011 — the highest such figure in the nation,” see the study by George Mason’s libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center.

  5. What needs to be done is to take the shroud of secrecy off and become more transparent with what is being asked by the people. Why is NY not dong a health impact “study” instead of a “review?” Why are there all these buzz words around when indeed a member obviously has a conflict of interest when asked to write about the safety of something when his ear is listening to the IOGA?
    Instead, the state of NY should invest in sustainable and renewable energies, create jobs and make our farmers the energy producers. With algae based bio fuels and switch grass bio fuels, we will surely be independent of other sources of energy. Plant based plastics instead of oil based plastics can be realized and new infrastructure can be created making lots of new jobs. The 21ST century ia where we as a human race must decide our own fate with old dirty fossil fuels that are killing us with the consequences, or renewable and sustainable energy, which will leave a much less carbon footprint.

  6. Taxpayer1301 on

    How to get out of this fix?? Hmmm, let’s close the barn door, now, because the horse is long gone.

  7. (Posting same comment without the informative links, hope this comment makes it up, thank you).

    Perhaps we cannot yet be certain whether Ecology and Environment’s distancing from IOGANY is more motivated by honest ethics or tactical public relations. I am quite suspicious, but for now I’ll just talk about what I know to be true.

    ~ E & E’s earlier analysis of the economics of fracking
    highlighted inflated benefits and downplayed / ignored important risks.
    That calls into question their ability to do this or any fracking review with thoroughness & balance.

    ~ Blasting earth’s radioactive bedrock at high pressure
    with immense amounts of chemically laced water & sand causes multiple problems far too serious to ignore. Methane & VOC emissions, leaking well casings & well bores, countless truck trips, ruined health and farmland, to name but a few.

    ~ ** We do not need to resort to this compromise of
    health and values in order to obtain the energy we need to live our lives. We have been given a blueprint for an entirely renewable NYState, powered by wind, water, and sunlight, by researchers from Stanford, Cornell, UC Davis, and others. This makes far more sense than high volume, high pressure, high risk methane emitting fracking at this critical point for our planet & climate. I wish we could all agree on that, at least ….