Natural Gas

  Over the past decade a new and controversial energy extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has rocketed to the forefront of U.S. energy production. With fracking, millions of gallons of water, dangerous chemicals, and sand are injected under high pressure deep into the earth, fracturing hard rock to release oil and gas.

Wenonah Hauter, one of the nation’s leading public interest advocates, argues that the rush to fracking is dangerous to the environment and treacherous to human health. Frackopoly describes how the fracking industry began; the technologies that make it possible; and the destruction and poisoning of clean water sources and the release of harmful radiation from deep inside shale deposits, creating what the author calls “sacrifice zones” across the American landscape.

Protesters at Vermont Commissioner Recchia's property
People’s Department of Environmental Justice

A group of protesters opposed to a natural gas pipeline being built in Vermont took their dispute to the home of Vermont’s top utility regulator this week.

crews work to repair a hole in a street
WAMC

In the wake of a water main break that caused a large sinkhole in downtown Springfield earlier this month, city councilors have called for a series of meetings to discuss the status of the city’s underground infrastructure.

MidHudsonNews.com

Six people were arrested by New York State Police for disorderly conduct Friday morning when they blocked the construction entrance site to the Competitive Power Ventures in Orange County.

Governor Cuomo says he won’t allow a natural gas transfer station to be built off of the coast of Long Island, saying  there are too many concerns, including damage form future hurricanes, and potential terrorism. 

The Port Ambrose transfer station was to be built off of  the beaches of Long Island, and would have allowed tanker ships to load up with liquefied natural gas, then distribute the gas into pipelines on the main land.

Cuomo made the announcement to an enthusiastic crowd of Long Island officials and activists.

David Chanatry

  Early this morning a group of protesters blocked access to a work site on Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. It was the latest in a series of protests that have been taking place every few weeks since last fall. The protesters want to stop plans to store natural gas as well as propane and butane in the emptied-out salt caverns alongside the lake. David Chanatry from the New York Reporting Project at Utica College spent a day at the site.

Vermont Gas logo
Vermont Gas

The Vermont Public Service Board is reconsidering a natural gas pipeline project after cost overruns altered project plans.

NG Advantage

After cost increases scuttled plans for a natural gas pipeline beneath Lake Champlain, International Paper's Ticonderoga mill has signed a contract with Colchester, Vermont based NG Advantage to deliver compressed natural gas by truck.

The end is near for the last coal-fired power plant in western Massachusetts.

Mount Tom Station in Holyoke, which had generated electricity only sporadically in recent years, is to shut down for good this month.  Alicia Barton, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center said her agency is funding a $100,000 study to look at possible reuses for the plant site.

" This is really going to be a community-led  process. What we hope to do is bring a set of additional expertise and information to that conversation."

WAMC/Pat Bradley

NYSEG, the New York State Energy and Gas Corporation, announced Wednesday that it will expand natural gas service in the town of Plattsburgh to at least a thousand new customers.

The debate over a proposed natural gas pipeline extension from Vermont to the International Paper Mill in Ticonderoga, New York, continued Wednesday night as the Vermont Public Service Board held a public hearing on the issue.

Addison County Regional Planning Commission

Regulatory agencies in Vermont are reviewing a plan by Vermont Gas to bring natural gas to the International Paper plant in Ticonderoga Mill in New York.  Officials in Ticonderoga are asking the regional planning commission to consider their interests as that entity reviews the project.

Some residents in Vermont say they are being threatened with eminent domain because they are concerned about a gas pipeline that would run through their property.  The utility building the project says while such notices have been sent, eminent domain is a last resort.

wikipedia.org

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — New England governors have announced a plan to expand the region's pipeline capacity to deliver more natural gas and cut energy costs.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage said Thursday he and the governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have asked the region's grid operator to help as the states seek proposals for transmission equipment and public works to deliver enough electricity to serve 1.2 million to 3.6 million homes.

Ryan Delaney/WAMC

A Westchester County legislator says he has strong concerns about a natural gas line project that could run through portions of his county. He also wants Westchester to have a seat at the table.

Democrat Peter Harckham is the majority leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators. He has written to the secretary of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, requesting a comment period extension for the proposed Algonquin Incremental Market Project and expressing his concerns about how the project will impact public safety and the environment.

WAMC News

VESTAL, N.Y. (AP) — Big energy companies have been trying for five years to tap the riches of the Marcellus Shale in southern New York. They promise thousands of jobs, economic salvation and an abundant, clean-burning source of fuel.

But for all its political and financial clout, the industry hasn't been able to get its foot in the door. One reason: Folks like Sue Rapp and Vera Scroggins are in the way.

Gas Storage Adds To Fracking Controversy In Upstate

Jul 3, 2013
David Chanatry

It’s something few people think about, but all that natural gas and other fossil fuels being produced by hydrofracking has to be stored somewhere before it gets to the consumer. Often used for the job: underground salt caverns like the ones near Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes. Now an out of state company wants to expand storage there, a plan some local residents call risky.

WAMC/Allison Dunne

Representatives from grassroots groups across several states will be in Washington, D.C. Thursday to attend a public meeting of a federal commission. They will also be there to protest what they call the agency’s rubber-stamping of natural-gas infrastructure projects.

The Day of Action comes under the banner of “We the People Matter ”, a new organization, and web site, that connects several grassroots groups that Asha Canalos says are fighting similar battles – the agency’s track record of approving natural-gas infrastructure projects despite citizen opposition.

A recently released report shows that due to an aging infrastructure in Massachusetts, tens of millions of dollars worth of natural gas escapes into the atmosphere before consumers can use it to heat their homes. More from WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard…

Last month the Conservation Law Foundation released a report that said leaky pipes in Massachusetts contribute to a loss of $38.8 million dollars worth of natural gas each year. The losses they say are a public safety hazard, contribute to global warming, and force the customers to pick up the bill.

Courtesy NG Advantage

A new company has broken ground on the first facility in Vermont that will truck natural gas to businesses across Vermont that are unable to tap into pipelines carrying the fuel.

A company that wants to build a natural gas pipeline through parts of four New York counties could be facing growing public opposition. Constitution Pipeline wants to run the line from Susquehanna County Pennsylvania through parts of Deleware, Schoharie, Chenango and Broome counties, but more landowners in those counties will not grant permission for the company to conduct land surveys for the project. Joe Mahoney is a reporter with the Oneonta Daily Star newspaper, and has been following the story. He spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

In a recently published interview, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation chairman Joe Martens says that the state’s review of the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas – known as ‘fracking’ – remains a work in progress, despite the department having already produced about 4,000 pages on the subject.

WAMC

Targeting what they claim are the largest air polluters in Massachusetts, activists announced a campaign today to shut down coal burning power plants.  WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

      Close to 50 environmental, public health, faith based and community groups make up a new state-wide coalition  called “ Coal Free Massachusetts”  The activists staged coordinated events Wednesday in the three communities where large coal-burning power plants still operate to call for each to be shut down by the end of the decade.

 This past week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued final regulations to require oil and gas drillers to capture harmful air pollutants that escape from wells during drilling operations, and from natural gas storage facilities and pipelines.  The final rule is a first, and it's good news. But the new rules take 2 and a half years to become effective. New York can and should do better.