Failed Fracking Company Sues New York

fracking-new-yorkWhen your fracking company goes bankrupt, what do you do to cut your losses? If you’re Norse Energy, you sue New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and his administration for taking too long to study the process and potential risks of hydraulic fracturing.

In 2008 Gov. Cuomo banned fracking in New York State to start an environmental review of the technique. Basically, he wanted to make sure there weren’t any irreversible environmental hazards, and that it was safe for residents in surrounding areas before allowing the technology in his state. Those answers can’t be found overnight; it takes time and a lot of research to know the effects of something as new as hydraulic fracturing. Luckily, Cuomo has not set a deadline for his health commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah, head of fracking research in New York State. Cuomo said, “I don’t want to put any undue pressure on them that would artificially abbreviate what they’re doing. They should do a thorough review, when they are ready and they feel it’s appropriate, they’ll tell us.”

Norse Energy, however, thinks the government is taking its time on purpose for political reasons. Norse’s attorney, Thomas West said, “This open-ended timetable and lack of transparency is an abuse of power and nothing more than a sham excuse for political delay.”

The company still holds the lease to about 130,000 acres of oil-and-gas rights in New York State. They acquired the lease thinking they could make it big on a potential New York gas-drilling boom. Norse says that due to the long research procedure, they have yet to set up shop, and therefore have lost all value of their assets. West said, “Norse Energy and its investors have lost more than $100 million by reason of this delay… The lawsuit is our attempt to bring an end to this long, ongoing process that’s been going on for five and [a] half years.”

So rather than conducting a thorough evaluation about the effects of a technology that could be permanently damaging, Norse would like the government to just come to a quick conclusion for their own gain. The lawsuit claims, “This unreasonably long, protracted process has precluded any and all natural gas development in New York State.” The truth is, it has stalled the progress, but Norse knew there were risks involved in obtaining land for fracking only within New York State. Many other companies that started acquiring land for fracking before 2008 also bought land in other states for this reason.

New York State has shown itself to be on the progressive end of energy procurement and management. Deregulated states like NY and a few of its neighbors make the energy industry a vital part of the economy in their region.

Hydraulic fracturing has garnered a great deal of attention over the past year due to its large potential for profits and damages. It is not fully known what the environmental outcomes will be, so it only makes sense that the Cuomo administration would take its time studying the subject to be fully confident when deciding to make it legal or not. Cuomo said of the study, “It’s one of the most important decisions we will make as a government, with far-reaching consequences. We want to make sure it’s right.”

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