More groups call for fracking review to be scrapped (UPDATED)


A second good-government group joined with a number of environmental and anti-fracking groups Thursday to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to throw out his administration’s draft review of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Common Cause/NY raised red flags over Ecology and Environment’s work on the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s fracking review, which the group says included analysis of public comments received in addition to a look at the economic impacts of shale-gas drilling.

Ecology and Environment, an Erie County-based firm, was listed as a member of the Independent Oil & Gas Association, gas-industry lobbying group, in a letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday. But on Wednesday, the DEC released a letter in which the company says it had been paying a single employee’s dues, but did not have a corporate membership. It severed ties with IOGA on Wednesday, accusing the association of “misrepresenting” its membership. (IOGA has since wiped the member list from its letter.)

“We are deeply disquieted by this large scale breach of the public interest,” Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said in a statement. “New Yorkers submitted over 66,000 comments on the proposed SGEIS (fracking review) in good faith, reflecting their concerns. These conflicts of interest discredit the impartiality of the review process.”

Common Cause also expressed concern about two other consultants who are cited in the DEC’s environmental review, which is meant to guide a decision on large-scale fracking and, eventually, a permitting process. Both Alpha Geoscience and URS Corporation were listed in IOGA’s letter. The two firms were hired by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in 2009 — under then-Gov. David Paterson’s administration — to assist with the state’s review, though their work largely focused on geological issues and how the shale-gas drilling process works.

UPDATED: The DEC on Thursday sent over separate letters from Alpha and URS, expressing a similar situation that Ecology and Environment stated in its correspondence on Wednesday. Both companies acknowledged having employees as IOGA members, but knocked IOGA for listing their companies on the pro-fracking letter sent to Cuomo on Monday.

The good-government group’s concerns were raised a day after the New York Public Interest Research Group mailed Cuomo, asking him to scrap the DEC’s work. Both groups have taken money from the Park Foundation, an Ithaca-based philanthropic fund that has donated a few million dollars to anti-fracking groups. (In Common Cause’s case, the group has received $215,000 since 2009 to look at the gas industry’s lobbying and campaign expenditures in New York and Pennsylvania.)

Others who signed on to the call to throw out the DEC’s review included Catskill Mountainkeeper (a group that was co-founded by current DEC commissioner Joseph Martens), Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Riverkeeper, among others.


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  1. Time to investigate IOGANY. How do they send a lobbying letter to the Governor representing corporations as IOGANY members and then turn around and say they don’t have company or corporate memberships. You can’t have it both ways and they got caught. The Governor and news media should ignore this self-serving misleading shill for the oil and gas industry.

  2. Another example of Cuomo rushing to pass laws based upon media attention. We don’t need fast laws, we need good laws. We don’t need a hysterical Governor acting like chicken little. 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 off-budget State Insurance Fund (SIF). Coumo can not even hold on to his democratic majority which is in the middle of a corruption scandal and “show-me-the-money culture” and “pay-to-play politics.” He 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 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.

  3. The smell is on everyones hands, except for the struggling landowners of the Souther Tier who wait for this circus to end. The “Good Government” tag for the uber-liberal Common Cause is questionable, at best, they are in bed with the Labor Unions and anti-fracking organizations.

    10% unemployement in Broome, Tioga, Chemung Counties and we fight over a logo on a letter. NY IS NOT OPEN FOR BUSINESS until these theatrics end and the anti’s are shown the door. Drilling is occuring safely in 32 other states right now, but not NY. NY is a joke.