Did Cuomo Just Pull a Moreland with Fracking?

New York FrackingTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Whatever happened to the New York Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel? Is there any reporter who will investigate how Cuomo’s fracking decision was really made?

Remember when Governor Cuomo’s DEC Commissioner, Joe Martens, in July, 2011, announced the formation of a Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel? This group, heavily dominated by the Natural Resources Defense Council (three of original 13 members were NRDC senior attorneys, not including their former colleague Martens from the NRDC’s sister entity, the Open Space Institute, or its allies), was announced as follows:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced the members of the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel that will be charged with:

  • developing recommendations to ensure DEC and other agencies are enabled to properly oversee, monitor and enforce high-volume hydraulic fracturing activities;
  • developing recommendations to avoid and mitigate impacts to local governments and communities; and
  • evaluating the current fee structure and other revenue streams to fund government oversight and infrastructure related to high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

“I want to thank the panel members for agreeing to participate,” Martens said. “The guidance they will provide will be invaluable as we move forward with this process.”

What happened? Has anyone seen a single mention of this committee in any of the myriad stories on Cuomo’s decision, which he falsely attributed to independent objective analysis? So far as I can tell, this committee, later expanded to include a smidgeon of landowner balance, met a handful of times in in 2011 and apparently never met again after a scheduled January, 2012 meeting was cancelled with less than 24 hours notice only six months after its creation.  Moreland Commission redux?

Remember When…There Was A Panel?

It’s bad enough to take all decisions into your hands as if you were an emperor instead of a mere governor, but it’s worse to pretend otherwise by hiding behind make-believe commissions intended to give you the cover of supposed objectivity. Still worse, though, is the fact none of the reporting on his dastardly decision is even mentioning it. It’s as if it never happened or only matters to us few rubes unkind enough to bring it up and mar the anti-fracking savior routine. Who wants to be a party-pooper?


Martens Announces Creation of Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel

Is there an enterprising journalist out there wiling to ask Cuomo or Joe Martens the tough questions about what the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel might have recommended? Did they agree with Cuomo’s decision? Did they vote on it? Were they consulted? Or, were just certain members consulted, such as those three NRDC senior attorneys? We know plenty of journalists were willing to ask tough questions about the Moreland Commission. But, that was when Zephyr Teachout was challenging Cuomo. She was the darling of the left and the NRDC gang, who may well have supported Teachout as a means of sending Cuomo a message – “cross us on fracking and you’ll have hell to pay, buddy, because we can make or break your Presidential aspirations.”

“Our Colleague Joe Martens”

Will someone ask about that? Will someone ask Joe Martens what contacts he maintained with his former colleagues in the NRDC gang? We know they still referred to him as a colleague and coordinated with him after to his ascension to DEC Commissioner from this e-mail gathered in the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance Freedom of Information request of the DRBC (emphasis added).

From: Yasemin Unal-Rodriguez [mailto:yunal-rodriguez@osiny.org]
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 5:39 PM
To: carol.collier@drbc.state.nj.us; RWALL@ANSP.ORG; Johnson, Andrew Cc:Abigail Weinberg; Bill Rawlyk; Peter Howell
Subject: Memo from Peter Howell…

Sent on Behalf of Peter Howell…

Hi All…

Attached are materials that my colleague Kim Elliman passed to me (hence the notes) from a briefing he attended by the Resource for the Future’s Center for Economics and Policy. RFF’s initiative is looking across the entire shale region, so it’s obviously not focused just on relevant issues in the Delaware Basin and thus may or may not be applicable here. But it might, and I’m curious in particular what you think of the effort, Carol, and how it might inform and dovetail with work you’re doing. We’ve also passed this on to our colleague Joe Martens, head of DEC in New York.


Kim Elliman, readers will recall, is a Rockefeller descendant and the $450,000/year leader of the Open Space Institute (OSI). Howell, Unal-Rodriguez, Rawlyk and Weinberg are all OSI employees. OSI and the NRDC are two sides of the same coin, with overlapping board memberships and inbred relationships all around. Notice how, when they strategized about shale with Carol Collier, the William Penn Foundation and the Academy Natural Sciences in Philadelphia (where Collier went after her abominable tenure at the DRBC) they still referred to Martens as a “colleague” – not a former colleague as one would expect them to say, but simply a colleague, as in present tense. Their idea of an appropriate shale policy, of course, is no shale development, and Martens was in on it from the beginning, just like Collier.


A Freudian slip or just an honest comment reflecting the reality – that the NRDC is still calling the shots? It’s Christmas and I’m feeling generous, but I can’t ignore the evidence that the cookies left for Santa just happen to be the ones the NRDC likes. Martens is a hopeless stooge in the service of the elitist NRDC gang. He was assigned to work with a second-tier crime boss governor who the real mob bosses have been twisting into knots and have now bought off with a deal he couldn’t refuse.

Perhaps some journalist might ask Joe Martens why he was still receiving strategy materials on shale policy from his OSI “colleagues” in 2013, more than two years after he left there. Or, is that too much to ask?

The “Morelandized” Fracking Panel

Perhaps they ought to ask a few more things about that “Morelandized” Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, too. Why did it stop meeting? Who cancelled the last scheduled meeting in January, 2012? Shouldn’t that committee have had some input on the fracking decision, or was it just a convenient cover story with a half-life of just enough time to divert attention without staying around so long any reporter would remember it?

Which brings to mind a few other things our imaginary reporter might ask about. For example, why was the last scheduled meeting of the Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel cancelled? Could it have had to do with the fact the meeting was supposed to include a very biased report from the New York State Association of County Health Officials that was leaked ahead of time and contradicted by the research of Chenango County representatives who were prepared to challenge it at the meeting? Did Martens and company continue to meet with environmental special interests on the panel?

Fracking - Chenango County-gas-well

There are, as well, some other questions worth considering regarding Chenango County. For example, there’s the time we’re told Cuomo ally and Chenango County resident Jim Bays (now Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets) sought out help from pro-gas supporters to buffer Cuomo from fractivist protests as the governor walked through the New York State Fair, only to have Andy tell one of the protestors how much he liked her sign. That was, reportedly, after Bays surreptitiously arranged for free tickets for the pro-gas supporters. Was the Cuomo administration deliberately playing both sides as long as possible waiting for an opportunity to take personal advantage of the situation? Will someone ask that?

Then, there’s the more recent activity of Julie Tighe, the Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Environmental Conservation, who was, it’s said, calling local officials as late as last week, asking them for their opinions on fracking? What was that all about? Was the DEC staff that out-of-the loop? Or, was it simply cover for a decision made long ago – a deal cut with the NRDC gang?

I don’t have a lot of confidence there’s any reporter out there willing to ask these questions or they would have been asked by now instead of us having to fight to get the truth out by whatever means we can. The mainstream media has largely accepted the Cuomo narrative, enabling some rather astounding deception. We can pose all sorts of reasons this might be occurring but what all we know is that it ought not to be. “Whatever happened to that Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel?” ought to be the first question of every reporter writing on this story, as this was an abuse of process from the very outset. If no one asks, then Andrew Cuomo pulled another Moreland.

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5 thoughts on “Did Cuomo Just Pull a Moreland with Fracking?

  1. Pingback: Did Cuomo Just Pull a Moreland with Fracking? | ShaleNOW

  2. Thanks for your always astute observation Tom. This is just another Cuomo style three card monte gimmick. Cuomo thinks that we’re all as stupid as he looks. What we have to do is start lobbing our Republican friends, who are coming into the new legislature with considerable strength this year. Cuomo’s not going to be able to give them the bums rush like he has previously. Frankly, they are as fed up with Cuomo as we are. Hopefully, they will tie our Landowner hating, and partisan shill of a governor into knots. I wish you and all of our friends a very Merry Christmas, and a very happy, natural gas drilling New Year.

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