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New York landowners' group looking at lawsuit against New York state

By Bob Downing Published: February 28, 2013

From the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York Inc.:

Dear Friends and Natural Gas Supporters,

On February 8, 2013, the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York announced that it has been laying the ground work for a lawsuit against New York State for a taking of our property rights under the United States and New York Constitutions. The JLCNY is now seeking landowner candidates to serve as plaintiffs in the action.

The JLCNY believes that New York has no intention of ever completing the SGEIS or the regulations for high volume hydraulic fracturing. After 4 ½ years, today marks another deadline missed by NY - the date to complete the HVHF regulations.

NY is clearly acting in bad faith. Ohio completed its HVHF regulations in 8 months. This week Illinois introduced House Bill 2615 — the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act—after a 14-month bi-partisan effort that involved the Attorney General’s Office, environmental groups (NRDC and the Sierra Club), industry leaders and state legislators. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn praised the bill saying it will help his state’s economy. Ironically, the “New Albany” Shale is Illinois’ target formation but it’s business as usual in Albany, NY where our leaders continue to make a mockery of the regulatory process.

President Obama said in his state of the Union address: “After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.”

Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "It is up to the governor, but I personally have said we should be fracking, not in the watershed, but we should be fracking. … About 13,000 people get killed every year by the pollutants from coal-fired plants. … [Also, as] Boone alluded to, getting oil from outside this country is expensive and it transfers our wealth to people who are trying to destroy our lives. … Of all the things we can do, natural gas isn't perfect, but it certainly looks like it can make this country energy-independent and reduce dramatically the pollutants going into the air," Bloomberg said.

On February 12, 2013, DOH Commissioner Shah perpetuated the state’s bad faith conduct by suggesting that he would review two health studies that had not yet been started or funded. News of DOH’s inability to complete its work on the latest health review came even though it was revealed that its advisory panel completed its work months earlier and that last year, DOH conducted a health review and found that there are no health impacts from HVHF.

While our nation’s leaders bring us closer than ever to achieving energy independence, cleaner air and economic prosperity, NY threatens to impede our progress and deny the constitutionally guaranteed rights of NY landowners.

The lawsuit against the state will focus on claims where the failure to grant HVHF permits has deprived landowners of all economically viable uses of their real property or interfered with reasonable investment-backed expectations. While we would like to include a large number of plaintiffs in the action, the economic reality is that numerous plaintiffs would make the action too costly to prosecute. Mineral appraisals will be required for each property in the action. Accordingly, we plan to proceed with a limited number of plaintiffs to give ourselves the best opportunity to establish legal precedent in NY.

 

We are seeking one plaintiff for each of the following categories:

 

1. Sub-surface Mineral Owners

a. Property owners who purchased the sub-surface oil, gas and other minerals prior to July 23, 2008, the date Governor Patterson announced a review process to update the Generic Environmental Impact Statement applicable to HVHF.

b. The property should be in the regions where the Marcellus or Utica Shales are the primary target with few prospects for other formations such as the Herkimer or Trenton Black River.

c. The property must be located in the Susquehanna River Basin.

d. Sub-surface mineral owners in Broome County are likely candidates.

 

2. Lessor Plaintiffs

a. Landowners under a lease with an oil and gas company where the company has applied for a Marcellus or Utica drilling permit or a permit has been withdrawn because of New York’s delay in completing the SGEIS.

b. The property should be in the regions where the Marcellus or Utica Shales are the primary target with few prospects for other formations such as the Herkimer or Trenton Black River.

c. The property must be located in the Susquehanna River Basin.

 

3. Sub-surface Mineral Owners with Prior Wells

a. Landowners who own the sub-surface oil, gas and other minerals and who have had a prior oil and gas well drilled on their property, fully depleting formations such as the Herkimer, Oneida or Trenton Black River, leaving only the Marcellus and Utica as viable formations. Landowners with prior wells in Chenango County are potential candidates.

 

4. Fee Simple Owners (surface and sub-surface)

a. Fee simple owners of vacant undeveloped land, owning both the surface and sub-surface rights and purchased for oil and gas investment purposes prior to July 23, 2008.

b. The property should be located in a core Marcellus or Utica region.

c. We are looking for a property having little or no economic value in the surface. These could be properties where building or farming are impractical or where there are surface restrictions which limit surface uses, but still allow for the development of sub-surface oil and gas.

d. Properties with deed restrictions prohibiting commercial development do not qualify.

 

Candidates who fit within one of the above categories should contact:

 

Scott R. Kurkoski, Esq.
 
450 Plaza Drive, Vestal, NY 13850
 
 

 

The JLCNY is exploring various options to fund the litigation against the state. Please do not send donations for the litigation until the JLCNY sends a specific litigation funding request. Other donations to the JLCNY are welcome.

Warm Regards,
 
Dan Fitzsimmons, President
 
Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, Inc.
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