N.Y. AG wants info from companies on shale drilling

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Aug 22, 2011


ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is reportedly seeking documents from at least three energy companies about their drilling costs and productivity of their gas wells.

According to The Associated Press, Schneiderman has sent subpoenas to Range Resources, Goodrich Petroleum and Cabot Oil and Gas.

The AP reported that the attorney general also has asked Chesapeake Energy to respond to questions.

Schneiderman is apparently concerned about whether the companies have painted an accurate picture to investors as to their gas wells' profitability.

According to the AP, more than $45 million of New York's pension fund is invested in the four companies, all of which are "active" in the Marcellus Shale region.

The gas-rich region includes parts of New York and Ohio and most of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Natural gas drilling has been on hold for years in New York while an environmental review is being done of the process, the AP reported.

At issue in many shale-rich states is fracking or hydraulic fracturing.

This process involves the injection of fluids containing a mixture of water, chemicals and other compounds into a well that has been drilled into the shale.

These fluids, at high pressure, can fracture rock formations in the shale and release natural gas, which can then be extracted.

But environmentalists fear the fracking fluids are leaking into nearby soil and ground waters, exposing fish and humans to the chemicals.

Last week, a West Virginia circuit court judge struck down a ban on fracking by the city of Morgantown, saying the state Department of Environmental Protection has "exclusive control of this area of law."

The city council had adopted a ban on fracking within the city and areas one mile outside of its corporate limits.

The city contended it had the authority to enact and enforce the ordinance pursuant to the rights given to it by the Home Rule provisions in state code, which characterize the fracking process as a nuisance.

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