Update – New York shale shill E&E is on the block
This is a remarkably well researched piece by Rob Galbraith about the New York gas lobbyist “Energy and the Environment Incorporated“ who actually get paid by their fracking collaborators inside the NYS DEC to hype shale. Such a gig !
Ecology & Environment (E & E), the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) contractor whose membership in the lobbying group Independent Oil and Gas Association (IOGA) of New York set off alarm bells, “clarified” its relationship with the organization last week.
In a letter released April 24, E & E asserted that it was never a member of IOGA, though it had previously paid an employee’s membership fees “in order to attend IOGANY’s Conferences and receive its newsletter to be kept apprised of new technical developments in the industry and develop industry contacts.” The environmental consultant castigated IOGA for not obtaining authorization to name Ecology & Environment in its letter to Andrew Cuomo pushing to move forward with fracking in New York State. E & E also declared that it had directed its employee to terminate his IOGA membership.
According to the April 24 letter, “E & E’s nationwide policy has been to not take any position on fracking and only provide objective environmental consulting;” however, the company has a financial interest in New York’s approving the practice evinced in corporate financial reports and past work for oil and gas companies. E & E has also been criticized for its overly optimistic prediction of fracking’s economic effects written on contract for the DEC and further has ties to a now-defunct fracking research institute at the University at Buffalo that incorrectly reported that the incidence of major environmental citations had declined in Pennsylvania.
Financial interest in fracking
Although Ecology & Environment claims to be neutral on the fracking issue, the company stands to gain financially if it is allowed in New York. In its 2010 annual report, E & E wrote:
E & E’s management recognized early on that the oil and gas industry provided outstanding opportunities for commercial consulting contracts due to federal and state permitting requirements for new facilities.
In its most recent 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, E & E identifies “unconventional natural gas development” as a business area:
Recent advances in gas drilling techniques have opened “shale gas” reserves for development. E&E has positioned itself to respond to industry demands for permitting well development and take away pipelines required to move shale gas to market.
E & E’s 10-K from 2011 had the same language, followed by: “The company is currently working in the Marcellus and Barnett Shale Gas Reserves.”
Work that E & E has done for the oil and gas includes “play[ing] a key role in the development of El Paso Corporation’s 680-mile (1,094-km) Ruby Natural Gas Pipeline,”and reports supporting the permitting of the Williams Companies’ Transcontinental Pipeline that stretches from South Texas to New York City.
Ecology & Environment has also lent its name to a report by National Fuel Gas titled“Natural Gas: Nature’s Choice for Clean Energy,” providing technical review for a company booklet encouraging people to use more natural gas.
“Thin” economic analysis
E & E’s business serving the oil and gas industry aroused suspicions in 2011 when the company and the DEC released the Economic Assessment Report the company prepared to support the state’s Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) evaluating the potential impacts associated with permitting fracking.
The analysis, for which E & E was paid $223,000, predicted that fracking would add nearly 25,000 jobs and $1.7 billion in wages to New York State’s economy.
This forecast was criticized by the economists Jannette Barth, Edward Kokkelenberg, and Timothy Mount for relying too heavily on assumptions about the amount of gas produced and the lifespan of an average gas well, for glossing over negative economic effects from fracking such as reduced property values and decreased tourism revenue, and for overestimating tax revenue projections from fracking, among a litany of other concerns.
Rest of article = Ecology & Environment: IOGA-tied DEC contractor