Landowners say they will file fracking suit on Feb. 14 (UPDATED)

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A statewide group of landowners says it plans to sue New York in mid-February if the Department of Environmental Conservation doesn’t lay out a “reasonable” timeline to complete its review of hydraulic fracturing.

In a newsletter sent to its members late Thursday, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York President Dan Fitzsimmons said the group will file its long-awaited lawsuit on Feb. 14 in hopes of forcing the DEC to complete its lengthy environmental review of fracking, known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement or SGEIS.

The coalition is set to send a letter to the DEC on Friday, demanding a timeline for a decision on high-volume fracking by Feb. 13 and promising a suit if the demand isn’t met. By filing in mid-February, the landowners’ attorneys are hoping to essentially have it linked with a similar but separate legal challenge by the bankruptcy trustee of Norse Energy, the now-defunct subsidiary of a Norwegian oil-and-gas company.

“The JLCNY’s Article 78 Petition to compel the State to complete the SGEIS is almost ready to be filed,” Fitzsimmons wrote. “We plan to commence the action on February 14, 2014 making it returnable before the Court with the Norse Petition on March 7, 2014.”

The Binghamton-based landowners group, which has been raising funds for the lawsuit over the past several months, is getting a boost from the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a Colorado-based non-profit that has provided legal support in a number of conservative-leaning lawsuits across the country. In the newsletter, Fitzsimmons said the foundation reached out to the group in November to offer up its legal team.

In a draft of the lawsuit made public last year, the Joint Landowners Coalition laid out its case for a federal “takings” case, which argued the state’s de facto moratorium on large-scale fracking was an unconstitutional seizure of their land rights. But the landowners’ initial suit will be an “Article 78” proceeding, which is a portion of New York law used to challenge an act by a state agency or entity on an expedited basis.

The Norse lawsuit was filed last month and came after its attorney, Albany-based oil-and-gas lawyer Tom West, sent a similar demand letter to the DEC two weeks earlier. The state and Norse’s trustee are due in court in March.

Earlier this week, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said his agency is “extremely unlikely” to issue any high-volume fracking permits before April 2015. The state first put the technique on hold in July 2008.

UPDATED: Here’s the demand letter sent to Martens Friday:

Demand Letter Final Signed by Jon Campbell

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17 Comments

  1. It is not a taking. The land can be use for farming and other normal purposes. And if they want to drill they can still drill a traditional vertical well.

  2. The JLC is asleep at the switch. Savvy investors including the World Bank and cosortiums of non-profits are divesting their fossil fuel stocks and moving to sustainables and green tech. Wake up and smell the coffee, JLC.

  3. There will be no more passing the buck. Dr. Shaw, Commissioner Martens are political pawns in the Cuomo – Kennedy takens of every property owners rights. Cuomo who states Town Boards can not regulate casinios with home rule on one hand but says they can regulate gas companies using home rule makes a very strong political mistake proving the NORSE case that it’s politics not science???? Look at Binghamton NY, The reason Home Rule will not work and that the law written in NY that says Gas & Oil will be regulated and permitted by the State stands out as point in case. When politicians are eleceted at town levels every 2 years the politics on commerce can change. In binghamton we had Mayor Matt Ryan (Cuomo wold have nothing to do with his own democratic party member in Ryan’s case) who was against drilling and baned it. A new mayor is elected and embraces commerce from the gas industry knowing full well that our area is devestated by the loss of over 250,000, Manufacturing jobs. as well as knowing that THE FALSE CLAIMS MADE BY THE ANTI-GAS ANTI-PROGRESSIVES OF WATER AND HEALTH & AIR POLLUTIONS ARE LIES. my point is simple, no industry is going to locate anywhere in Upstate NY where the politics of a town board can change every two years.

  4. Isaac Gorn aka Taxpayer 1301 – 13901? 7 percent of the USA energy is supplied by green energy. 5 0ercent of that is wood. Siver nitrate is used in the making of Solar and electronic componets. Since the world has mined 80 percent of its silver Solar panels are back to stage one in the lab to look for a new way to produce them whithout silver nitrate. We are a long way away from the reality of green energy and even the president of the united states recognized this simple fact calling natural gas a bridge fuel Here read it word for word

    Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.

    One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.

    It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

    And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

    Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.

  5. “Hugh Kimball
    It is not a taking. The land can be use for farming and other normal purposes. And if they want to drill they can still drill a traditional vertical well.”

    It is a takens when you own the mineral rights and not the property itself. There are hundreds of thousands of acres in NY that fall under this status. I suggest you learn the law or consult a lawyer before mis informing

  6. Diana L. Wright on

    So sue us. Every day there are more accidents, more people getting sick, more evidence that fracking is bad for the planet and the people living on this planet. The Health Commissioner is doing his due diligence by traveling to affected areas of the country and gathering information about this process that is pertinent to the Governor’s final decision on this issue. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. The damage caused by fracking cannot be undone. Open your mind to other options. There is plenty of money to be made in renewable energy. Try that instead.

  7. I find it disingenuous to sue for a date. What the JLCNY wants is permitting of unconventional drilling, not a date certain for a robust environmental impact statement compiled with the latest scientific, economic, and public health findings. Such a document, if completed, could lead to a decision not to engage in HVHF in NY at all or to require a site-specific environmental impact statement for each permit, a course which the drilling companies won’t pursue because they would have the financial burden of researching and submitting it.

  8. Dianna L. Wrong

    please provide your source of information were it states “””Every day there are more accidents, more people getting sick, more evidence that fracking is bad for the planet and the people living on this planet. “”””” OooPP’s you cant because your spewing lies from Josh Fox…

  9. Dianna Wright states: “so sue us”. Very astute of you to see that is exactly what we are going to do. This Governor and his two puppets, Shah and Martens, will have to be told by a judge to allow drilling just like it is being done in 30 other states in the U.S. The Mountain States Legal Foundation is a top notch legal group who has argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Cuomo should be more than worried that they are now involved and this will get wide national attention so the rest of the country can see just how bad a governor he is and what at terrible President he would be should he be so foolish to run.

  10. Hugh Kimball
    “It is not a taking. The land can be use for farming and other normal purposes. And if they want to drill they can still drill a traditional vertical well.”

    What a bunch of BS rationalization.

    But if that is how you feel, then I’m coming over tonight and taking the engine out of your vehicle. It not a taking, after all you can still use the vehicle. Perhaps to store things in, as a boat anchor, to live in, to tow behind another vehicle to get around in, to raise pigeons in. Yeah, lots of viable practical uses. So where do you live?

    Oh yea, that’s right, over in La-La land on the corner of desperate stretch and plain irrelevant!

    Do you really want to see gas single gas wells every 1/8 square mile? Of course not, but that is what it would take to develop NG with vertical well technology instead of HVHF. So your suggestion to drill vertical wells is either disingenuous or evidence of blatant ignorance.

    You really should find a better use for your energies like protesting something that truely has no use in society like domestic violence, animal abuse, poor educational systems, Cuomo’s entire time in office, etc.

  11. I have consulted with a lawyer and it is not a taking. If the land cannot be used for anything else BUT leasing for fracking and fracking isn’t allowed that would be a taking. Land in NY can be used for creating bio fuels, for creating solar panels on acres and acres, can be made for wind farms, can be used for geo thermal. Listen , sustainable and renewable energy is coming, whether you like it or not, so why not invest and start using it now. It’s happening all over the world, the only reason this country doesn’t do it is because we are fed propaganda from the gas companies commercials which tout lie after lie about how it can transform communities- yeah it can all right, pit one neighbor against another. That’s their tactic, divide and conquer.Don’t let it work. Instead invest in a way to use less invasive ways to create energy, for this is the only planet we have and we are fowling our own next with dirty energy, coal, oil, gas and nuclear.

  12. how many of those of you who are against the extraction and use of natural gas as a bridge fuel actually provide all of their energy (home heat etc) by using solar or wind power exclusively? Thought so!

  13. Are there really that many people-Apparently an entire coalition- who still are that ignorant of the immense- and well documented, third party- evidence and data linking hydraulic fracturing to a myriad of environmental and health problems!? Fracking destroys the environment, destroys the infrastructure and economy of communities that are stupid and greedy enough to allow it, makes people and animals sick and often even die…so a few greedy people and the gas industry can get rich!? We environmentalists care about more than just ourselves; we care about the environment and the health and safety of our neighbors, our communities, our descendants… Ban fracking and come over to the renewable side!

  14. Meanwhile a move on NY property is being made by trying to publicly downplay the value of the gas in NY State. NY State is where the very first gas well in the country was drilled and since more then 70,000 more have been drilled with 13,000 in production today. However a small group of oil and gas investors are supposedly trying to convince landowners through targeted public meetings that there is no gas worth anything in NY Rumors abound how these gas and oil investors plan to convince you your proerty is worthless. Who is Chip Northrump…?

    Chip who touts himself as a Texas Cowboy who rides his white pony to NY to save the Sweet Sandra of NY from the evil frackers turns out to be nothing more then a gas & oil investor trying to convince NYkers there is no gas in the shale below our state. His child like name calling and attacks on the charectar of anyone who dare present facts to him, is riffled with the behavior equal to that of an Internet bully. An Internet bully is someone (like Chip) who sits at the key board in the comfort of his home and tosses insults as if he were the invincible kid who belongs in the 8th grade but has been held back in the 5th, making him a foot taller then his classmates who rightfully fear the big dummy.

    Rumor has it Chip Northrup and Louis W.Allstadt (Two Oil & Gas investors) are conspiring together on behalf of a group of other Texas oil & Gas investors to de-value the land in Upstate NY so they can swoop in and buy it up at the low low and then flip the land for billions of dollars. The rumor is they are in cahoots with the NRDC ( an accused bunch of land grabbing carpet baggers from NY ) and the park foundation to do presentations across the state trying to convince people their is no gas in a state that has had over 70,000 gas wells drilled over the last 100 years with over 13,000 still in production today. Yeah No Gas Chip… Not until we drill anyway!

    But this isn’t the story, the story is how Chip can insult everyone who is pro gas in NY from his computer in Texas. The Story is about a fracking coward who when is at a presentation where pro gas representatives are present he maintains somewhat of a civil discourse, but when this representor of misinformation is in the comfort of an anti gas crowd he becomes a fouled mouth brave little Texas cowboy playing to the thrill of his cult. As for Chip’s character well one good example is how he blogged about minister from Upstate NY who is in favor of gas drilling. Chip called the Minister “A Man of the Holy Frack” he called the ministers congregation “The Church of The Holy Frack” labeling people he doesn’t even know. Labeling a minister who practices his faith to the point where I know the minister would forgive Chip for his child like behavior and insults is as low as you can go.

    I know men like Chip, They are the type who make racial jokes when the only people around are ones like him, talk about keeping bad company!!! Chip who apparently got his education from a Methodist School forgot the most important thing he could have ever learned. That lesson is respect of your fellow man.