Posts containing facts about the race in the 29th.

The Non-Working Stimulus

Today's Corning Leader quotes Eric Massa and Tom Reed on the stimulus. Reed says the stimulus "failed", was a "mistake" and "didn't work".

There are many reasons to oppose the stimulus, but saying that it was a failure just flies in the face of reality. The economy, and the jobs picture, is better today than it was a year ago, and the stimulus has created jobs. Whether the short-term benefit was worth the cost is certainly worth discussing, but a reasonable discussion has to begin with the facts, not ungrounded assertions of failure.

Bacalles (reluctantly) On the Record

Reader qka (not to be confused with reader "keuka") sends Assemblyman Jim Bacalles' response to qka's constituent letter. Qka asked if Bacalles would support a bill to extend the protections given New York City's water supply to the rest of the state. Bacalles' response, which addresses the Pulteney disposal site rather than the broader question, is attached after the break.

I've only seen Bacalles in action once, at the 2006 League of Women Voters debate. He clearly took his lead from George Winner at that event, and he tends to keep a low media profile. For example, today's Corning Leader story on Chesapeake only quotes George Winner and Eric Massa.

Here's the letter:

Chesapeake Withdraws Pulteney Application

The Corning Leader reports that Chesapeake Energy withdrew its application for a permit to dispose of wastewater in an abandoned well near Pulteney. The withdrawal happened this morning, and contradicts Chesapeake's earlier position expressed in a February 2 letter to Eric Massa.

Everywhere But Here

CQ's New York Congressional race story details how Republicans have Congressional primaries all over the state, except for two districts, including the 29th. The two districts that had the tightest 2008 races, the 24th and 29th, have a single Republican candidate.

Pulteney Meeting Video

Reader Groundhum sends this video of the entire Pulteney meeting. It's really well done -- it has a bookmark section so you can find each of the speakers.

Groundhum also sends a link to this Arizona Star article which is a AP story about hydrofracking pollution in Pennsylvania. The last fracking story in the Democrat and Chronicle was three weeks ago.

Parsing Chesapeake's Statement

Today's Corning Leader contains this terse statement from Chesapeake Energy:

Our enhanced water re-use techniques have greatly diminished the need for us to dispose of produced water, therefore, we have no intention of pursuing the injection well in Pulteney, N.Y.

This is clearly not good enough. When Chesapeake says "we have withdrawn our application", then this controversy is over.

Pulteney Rejects Wastewater and Winner Keeps Digging

Today's Corning Leader has two interesting fracking-related stories.

The first, more important one, covers yesterday's Pulteney Town Board meeting. At that meeting, the board laid the groundwork for a resolution for a moratorium on wastewater storage, and they voted to send a letter to Chesapeake Energy asking them to withdraw their application to store wastewater in a Pulteney well. The story contains this quote from Town Supervisor Bill Weber:

“It is very clear, from all my discussions with the board, and my own conscience, I can’t, in fact, I have yet to find anyone who supports this project,” Weber said, his voice choked with emotion.

The second, comical story concerns George Winner. Winner, who did not attend Sunday's meeting in Pulteney, yesterday accused Eric Massa of hiding the contents of a letter from the standing-room-only crowd there. After Massa and a number of meeting attendees pointed out that Massa distributed 250 copies of the letter at the meeting, Winner now says that Massa was wrong because he didn't distribute enough copies of that letter to the crowd.

What's next from Winner? A complaint about the color of Eric Massa's tie? Perhaps there was a spot on the car that Massa drove to the meeting.

Winner's response is all the more interesting because he agrees with Massa on the fundamental issue: he opposes the storage of waste water in the abandoned gas well in Pulteney. I don't know if this is a new position on Winner's part, since there wasn't a word about his opposition in yesterday's Leader story.

Maybe if Winner had just showed up at the biggest political event in the history of one of the towns he represents, he'd look like a leader rather than an ill-informed Monday morning quarterback.

Follow-Up on Winner's Statement

George Winner's allegation that Eric Massa is misleading constituents about Chesapeake Energy and their wastewater proposal has taken a couple of interesting turns.

First, commenter keuka confirms what Eric Massa says in this press release: Massa handed out 250 copies of the Chesapeake letter [pdf] at Sunday's fracking meeting. So, Winner's contention that Massa misled the attendees at that meeting is simply false.

Second, keuka points out that Tom Reed's brother was at the meeting taking notes. I assume this is Tom's brother John, who appears in this You Tube campaign video with Tom.

Finally, in Massa's letter to Winner [pdf], he makes an interesting point:

[...] I understand that you actually have a copy of this letter which was sent to me and distributed at this meeting. Since you did not attend Sunday's panel discussion and the only copies that I know of were provided at this meeting, I can't help but wonder how you came across a copy of the letter which you claim I withheld.

I think Senator Winner has some explaining to do.

Update: An anonymous reader sent this picture of Tom Reed's brother at the meeting:

Update2: Reader Groundhum, who was at the meeting and contributed this eyewitness report, sent a scan of Massa's letter to Chesapeake and their response [pdf], both of which were distributed at the meeting. Groundum also sent some additional testimony which was attached to the letter from Chesapeake [pdf] and was also distributed.

Winner Carrying Chesapeake's Water

Today's Corning Leader story is headlined "Winner: Massa Withheld Information". There's a lot less there than the headline would indicate, and what is there is bad for Southern Tier Republicans, not Massa.

The information that Winner says Massa withheld is contained in a letter from Chesapeake Energy, the company that wants to put wastewater down a well one mile from Keuka Lake. Chesapeake says that they have found a new process to filter, dilute and re-use fracking water, so they won't be "actively pursuing" the application to store that water in an abandoned gas well near Pulteney.

Winner thinks that this letter means that Chesapeake won't be using the well. But Chesapeake clearly says that they aren't withdrawing their application to store water in the well:

“While we remain confident that these technological practices will eliminate the need for the injection well permit, it is premature for us to pull the application at this time,” McClendon said.

“However, you have my commitment that we will keep you posted on our recycling program and any change in our position related to the permit application.”

In other words, the fox won't be having chicken for dinner today, but be sure to let him keep the key to the henhouse door for safekeeping. And don't worry -- he'll "keep you posted".

George Winner is either dumb enough, or duplicitous enough, to take Chesapeake's statement at face value. But that's no surprise. Ever since Chesapeake showed up in the Southern Tier, he and Tom Reed have been falling over themselves to accommodate the drilling company's interests. For Winner and Reed, the valid concerns of Tier residents, Republican and Democrat alike, take a back seat to an Oklahoma company's desire to have drilling and wastewater carting start immediately.

The politics of this are dead simple. If Tom Reed had the 29th seat today, there would be no high-profile elected representative asking skeptical questions and slowing down the process so all can be heard. Oklahoma fairy tales would be swallowed whole, along with a big glass of "shut up".

If anyone needs more evidence that Massa's election is making a positive difference in the lives of Tier residents, today's Leader has it, in spades.

Eyewitness Account of the Fracking Meeting

Reader Groundhum was kind enough to send over his notes from yesterday's meeting in Pulteney:

To say the meeting was well-attended would be understatement. Attendance estimates range from at least 300 (mine) to 500 (one of the organizers); the meeting room was SRO, and the anteroom was overflowing; the parking lot was full and cars lined both sides of Brown Rd. 500 might not be overstatement. Meeting started shortly after 1:00, and milling about and organizing (still mostly the former) was still happening when we had to leave around 4:00.

The speakers and their salient points (in the order in which they spoke).

Congressman Massa – Opposed, and always will be opposed. Will be meeting with reps of Chesapeake Energy. Two staff members will be working "virtually full time" on this issue. It took millions of years for the gas to form, and it is irresponsible to succumb to the pressure to extract it immediately. Take some time to understand the risks and consequences. And if anyone can possbily have any questions about my stance, read the op-ed from the Daily Messenger, which was also available as a handout and is online here.

Dr. Tony Ingraffea, civil engineer and member of the Cornell Fracture Group at Cornell University – An intense 15-minute course in engineering. Beyond understanding the process involved in engineering projects, do not fail to do the math when statistics are cited: At the volume Chesapeake proposes per their application to the DEC, there will be three truckloads an hour, 8 hours per day, 365 days per year, for 10 years. If 99.99% of the time everything works out with the hauling and injection process as Chesapeake predicts, that still means 1000 spills.

Walter Hang, CEO, Toxics Targeting – The DEC permitting process is geared toward facilitating granting of permits if all required information is submitted with the application. The DEC does not force clean up, and presented evidence of same from DEC records. Admonished attendees to form one group to fight UIC, and vowed to help whatever group emerges as the point in the fight. Also, the US EPA only considers the immediate property when reviewing a site. (Despite what one might assume or even consider common sense, what happens beyond the boundaries of a property is not taken into consideration in an EPA review.)

Art Hunt, Owner, Hunt Country Winery – Read a prepared statement expressing his dismay that something so absurd as injecting toxic waste into the ground would even be considered. Reiterated Keuka Lake Association's opposition (Art is also a member of the KLA board).

Dr. Richard Young, geologist/hydrologist, SUNY Geneseo – There is no map of the state's aquifers. There is no comprehensive map of the faults in the state. There is no way to predict what will give way when waste is injected or where it will really go. And, by the way, did you realize that when waste is injected, the pressure is only slightly less than the pressure used in the hydraulic fracturing process for extraction?

Steve Coffman, chairman, Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes – This is a patently absurd proposition. The Committe is prepared to do whatever is necessary to try to stop it.

Rachel Treichler, Esq., attorney – An overview of the permit application process, and the small number of relatively weak points in this particular sequence of events. Perhaps the best last chance is if the owner of the Bergstresser site can reject Chesapeake if that option exists in the lease contract.

The big take away was that the suspension in the permit process is an opportunity to organize to be ready to fight. Take advantage of the time because once the clock restarts, the fight has to start.

The slides from the presentations will be available at the Pulteney Library for review, and also posted online at a location yet to be determined.

Media: There is a story & video from WETM here.

WHEC, Channel 10, was there, but I don't find anything on their website, and nothing ran Sunday evening.. Here's the story, thanks to an anonymous commenter.

And, you know about The Leader. I saw a reporter from the Dundee Observer (one of Yates counties many newspapers ;) there, and I'm pretty sure the Chronicle-Express had someone there. Also, a couple of other people with press badges that I couldn't read.

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