The New York oil and natural gas industry is “imperiled” and “in crisis” because of the ongoing delay over whether to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in horizontal drilling, according to a recent letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA).

IOGA Executive Director Brad Gil, in a letter dated April 22 to Cuomo, said he was deeply concerned about the future of gas development in the state. He cited DEC figures that showed 550 permits were issued for vertical oil and gas wells in 2008, but only 163 were issued in 2012.

“We are tremendously anxious that a profound misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the processes for indigenous natural gas production may now prevail in New York, rather than fair consideration based on science and real world experience,” Gil wrote. “Our industry, which has operated in good faith and responsibly for decades in New York, is leaving; and so are the 5,000 direct and nearly 50,000 indirect jobs supported by our members.”

IOGA also is denying a conflict of interest report after independent global consultant Ecology and Environment Inc. (E&E), which has offices in New York, was included on the list of signatories to the letter. E&E was hired by the DEC in 2011 to conduct a separate socioeconomic study on drilling impacts.

Spokesman Jim Smith told NGI that even though E&E was included among hundreds of signatories, the firm didn’t officially sign the letter to Cuomo but was included on a list created by the IOGA of companies that potentially could be impacted by a continued drilling ban.

The reports have made “it appear as if there’s some conflict, but there simply is not,” Smith said. “This is particularly irritating. We made no assertion that we were speaking for any of those people. We simply listed them to demonstrate to the governor what our membership looks like.”

Meanwhile, New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens said he should not have indicated when a promised health impact study on fracking would be complete. Last September, Martens asked the state’s Department of Health to conduct a health impact analysis of HVHF, but he has since indicated several times that officials were “weeks away” from releasing their findings (see NGI, March 18; Feb. 18).

“If we made a mistake, it was saying it would be a few weeks” Martens said in a video clip posted last week by The Journal News of White Plains, NY. “We should have just said it will be ready when our evaluation is complete, period, with no timetable.”

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