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Gas at a glance

September 14, 2011

October 21 meeting set on DRBC drilling regulations

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced it has scheduled a special meeting on October 21 to consider regulations covering Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations in the Delaware River Watershed. The DRBC has received more than 69,000 comments on the draft regulations and held six public hearings to collect comments. The meeting will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. at Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J. The meeting will not include a public hearing. Visit www.state.nj.us/drbc/newsrel_naturalgas090611.htm for more information.

Cabot loses rights and money in local legal matchup

The New York Law Journal reports that Supreme Court Justice James P. Gilpatric, sitting in Sullivan County, has barred Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. from “exploring, drilling, producing and marketing oil, and natural gas and other hydrocarbons” under the residential subdivision, Weiden Lake Community, in the Town of Tusten, NY. The judge also barred Cabot from recovering the $99,255 signing bonus it paid to Jeff A. Klansky for the rights to explore and drill under his property. Justice Gilpatric also said the company should have known that a restrictive covenant would preclude the agreement it reached with the property owner. “[T]he evidence clearly demonstrates that Cabot, a sophisticated business entity, made a calculated and knowing decision to enter into the lease, approve title and pay the signing bonus with full knowledge” of the protective covenant and the opposition of the property owners’ association, Gilpatric held in Weiden Lake Property Owners Association Inc. v. Klansky and Cabot Oil, 3885/09. “Therefore, it is not entitled to rescission of the lease under a mistake of law.” See www.law.com/jsp/nylj/PubArticleFriendlyNY.jsp?id=1202512312404&slreturn=... for more information.

What do we make of the DRBC press release and regs process?

If the commissioner's representatives vote, on October 21, 2011, during a two hour meeting, to adopt whatever regulations are on whatever table, it will be a travesty of a process, despite the "more than 69,000" comments submitted in response to the original draft regulations that were proposed in December 2010.

The commissioner's representatives voted to allow the staff of the DRBC to begin review of these comments at the March, 2011 meeting. How large is the staff that reviewed the comments? How does such a small staff review so many comments in 6 months, then, perhaps, spend one month revising the original draft regulations? That time frame leaves zero time for the commissioner's representatives to read the final review.

Then, the commissioner's representatives will meet on the 21st for two hours to discuss the newly proposed regulations that they could not have had time to review properly?

The citizens, meanwhile, will have no opportunity to do anything but watch in horror if a decision is made that hugely impacts their future?

Where and when will a public review be made of the new, proposed regulations? Without such public review, there can be no acceptance of the revised regulations. They would be dead on arrival.

If the DRBC reverses its position, and defers to existing state regulations (that don't even exist in the case of NYS, and are way past due for revision in PA), the political stench will be even greater.

I hope for all of our sake that they do the right thing, and continue to tread very cautiously.