As a side show of the on-going fracking soap opera, Norse Energy, that tedious Norwegian fracking zombie, now proposes to blame its demise on the Governor of New York, after having blamed every one and everything else (except their own monumental ineptness). The bankruptcy court appointed trustee is planning to squander what little is left of Norse’s assets on yet another Fracking Publicity Stunt.
Norse Energy Trustee to Blame Cuomo for Bankruptcy
A couple of public documents quietly popped up last Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 in an obscure location — Item Number 637, deep in the files of a federal bankruptcy court case — revealing Norse’s bankruptcy trustees’s intent to hire Tom West to sue New York State.
The documents are from U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo), Bankruptcy Petition #: 1-12-13685-CLB. Norse’s first filing for bankruptcy is already nearly a year old, dating from Dec. 6, 2012. Then the case was converted from the original reorganization attempt to a Chapter 7 liquidation as of Oct. 10, 2013.
Over the years, prior to going out of business, Norse Energy applied for a bunch of such permits, targeting both Marcellus and Utica shales, with drill site locations spread atop its rural checkerboard of a leasehold in selected portions of Madison, Chenango, and Broome counties. Norse drilled test wells into the Utica and Marcellus, found no gas and could not sell its leases. Because they were looking for shale gas in the wrong place. The “don’t bother to drill here memo” was evidently not translated into Norwegian. Along the way, Norse crooked its partner, Bradford Energy, crooked its investors, defaulted on its creditors and welshed on road repair obligations – becoming Exhibit A to ban fracking by town if not by the entire state.
Technically, however, here’s all that’s happened so far: The appointed lawyer-trustee in Norse Energy’s Chapter 7 case (a wind-down bankruptcy) has asked the judge for permission to employ a specialist lawyer for a suit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, DEC head Joe Martens, and DOH head Nirav Shah – a copy-cat publicity stunt to the JLCNY’s stillborn Fracking Publicity Stunt
Norse’s Stiffed Creditors are entitled to seek as many cents on the dollar as they can possibly scavenge from the would-be driller’s carcass. Suing the Governor would wipe out what little is left. The specialist lawyer the bankruptcy trustee wants to hire is none other than Tom West, Chesapeake Energy’s lobbyits, who is batting 0-8 in challenges to Home Rule.
Elsewhere upstream in the bankruptcy court’s river of paper, the file shows the bankruptcy trustee had previously, in October 2013, formally rehired West to keep on keeping on with Norse’s Dryden appeal. And it further shows that West has been and is “handling that case based upon contributions from other industry sources.” Meaning Chesapeake Energy is paying for a A Frack Zombie Rent-A- Plaintiff to challenge Home Rule in New York. Despite the inconvenient fact that Home Rule – as applied to gas wells – is legal in Oklahoma where Chesapeake is from . . .imagine that.
That same sort of thickening plot also features in the Norse trustee’s proposed Article 78 challenge, as there’s word within the documents that West is prepared to go to work for free or “pro bono” — at least in so far as Norse, Norse’s creditors, the trustee, or the court are concerned. Instead, West proposes to get paid by un-named “independent third parties (‘The Funding Parties’)” Guess who !
It you think this sounds like the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York proposed Fracking Publicity Stunt to sue the state for denying them their right to frack themselves, you’d be right. Since February 2013, the JLCNY has been passing the hat for a similar legal challenge to New York State — on the fanciful grounds that the state’s de facto moratorium on one type of fracking (over 80,000 gallons) amounts to an unjustly uncompensated “taking” of all the economic use of their property. Even though none of the supposed plaintiffs ever bothered to file for a drilling permit. Good fracking luck with that in court.
So why don’t they file already? It turns out, nine months later, the landowners group still does not have enough money to pay the lawyers. In fact, at last word, in-the-know landowners were reporting that only $67,000 had been raised out of a funding goal of $100,000. $100K may not even be enough to see the case through to either triumph, or whatever legal dead end it may be doomed to be funneled into. But, regardless, they’re not filing until they have the full $100K to get it rolling, and they just cannot get the dairy farmers to cough up.
Evidently milking dairy farmers of their dough is not so easy anymore. Even for a shale shyster.