New York’s most amusing Shale Shyster, still smarting over the fracking fool he made of himself at the Middlefield appeal, is back trying to shake down land owners for legal fees to fund his latest fracking frivolous publicity stunt. Only catch is he has no case and no plaintiff. Which makes it kind of tough to raise cash for a non-existent lawsuit. Even from shale suckers.
Wed Mar 27, 2013, 09:00 AM EDT
Frustrated by the state’s delays in deciding whether to permit hydraulic fracturing for shale gas, a prominent landowner’s group has begun passing the hat to come up with the money to initiate a fracking publicity stunt against the Cuomo administration.
Scott Kurkoski, an attorney for the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, said in an interview with The Daily Star that the decision to move forward with a lawsuit against the state was prompted by the Cuomo administration shifting from being guided on the fracking issue from “science to politics.” Adding, “then to health, then back to science, then to politics, then to litigation.”
“They have taken away all of the economic value” of property owners whose tracts overlie potentially lucrative deposits of natural gas trapped under the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, the lawyer said, “leaving them only hot air, wishful thinking, and me. At least until the regulations or issued. Or I find a plaintiff.”
He said he has already begun consulting with “national experts” in constructing the legal theory that would back the lawsuit. (Ask Stephen Colbert for some ideas )
But Deborah Goldberg, a managing attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice, said the pro-fracking landowners’ coalition is simply wasting its time by pursuing such a legal gambit.
“It’s a big PR (public relations) stunt,” said Goldberg, who has been aiding the town of Middlefield in its effort to defend its nearly 2-year-old home-rule ban against gas drilling and other heavy industry.
If and when such a lawsuit is filed, Goldberg added, “I expect it will be dismissed summarily.”
Kurkoski said landowners had expected the state to release hydrofracking regulations last September. He complained the state launched a new health review on fracking after the state Department of Health concluded there were no negative health impacts from the controversial drilling method. “Anywhere. Ever,” said he, with fingers crossed, then added, “to the best of my knowledge of couse.”
Six weeks ago, he noted, State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah declared his health review would be completed in “a few weeks.”
“We have been down this road before,” Kurkoski said. “We won’t make the same mistake again.” Then added thoughtfully, “We will make new ones.”
He said the lawsuit will be commenced once the coalition collects enough money to support the action, which he acknowledged will be expensive. The cost of hiring expert witnesses alone, he said, is expected to top $100,000. “Frackademics don’t come cheap, you know.”
“We don’t make idle threats,” he said. “We make hollow ones.” He looked away, closing his eyes as if in contemplation or pain. “We just don’t actually have what we lawyers refer to as a ‘case’ quite yet. Or what is known in legal parlance as a ‘plaintiff’. But we are working real hard to find one or the other.”
Recall that this hapless goof is purposing to sue the DEC for being tardy in crafting their shale gas regulations. So the “takings” would have to be estimated from the time he files this vaporous complaint, and the time the regulations were issued. Which implies that the tardiness would have deprived the landowner of all value in their land. How many shale suckers will shell out for this side show ? Let’s hope they post a list.
Color me skeptical on this one. I must in truth confess that it seems a bit of a stretch to raise money for a lawsuit if you have no plaintiff and no case. If the law is not on your side, argue the facts. If the facts are not on your side, argue the law. If neither the law nor the facts are on your side and you have no plaintiff, hold a press conference and shake some shale suckers down for some fees.