Here’s how Gas Business Briefing, an industry trade website, covered last week’s $22 million deal between EnergyMark, LLC and the State University of New York:
EnergyMark awarded 3-year natgas contract to supply SUNY
In an ironic twist, EnergyMark LLC has been awarded a three-year contract to supply natural gas to five State University of New York campuses with gas from Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania and shallow vertical wells in New York.
New York State currently has in place regulations so tight that it virtually freezes out any horizontal drilling in the state.
The Williamsville, New York-based EnergyMark tells Gas Business Briefing the contract is valued at about $22m, based on current market prices.
The campuses involved include the University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, SUNY Fredonia, Alfred State, and the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
The contract was finalized in November, with supplies to begin flowing on April 1.
By using locally-sourced natural gas, EnergyMark says its shortening the “energy value chain” by bringing less expensive supply from within a 150-mile radius instead of from Western Canada and the Gulf Coast, 1,500 miles away.
“We intend to take advantage of the resources provided from the prolific Marcellus Shale play, which is positioned literally underneath a consuming region,” said Gary Marchiori, EnergyMark’s president, tells GBB.
“Developing and utilizing the local energy supply will make our region self sustained and potentially a net exporter of natural gas.”
New York State may currently have a moratorium on fracking, but that’s no impediment to our state university patronizing the practice just over the Pennsylvania border. SUNY just didn’t want New Yorkers to know about it. According to SUNY’s spokesperson, “(t)he word “hydrofracking” – who said it, and who didn’t – is irrelevant to what this story should be about.”
In fact, SUNY—which has morphed from its original mission—“to provide to the people of New York educational services of the highest quality, with the broadest possible access, fully representative of all segments of the population in a complete range of academic, professional and vocational postsecondary programs including such additional activities in pursuit of these objectives as are necessary or customary”—to being an “economic driver for the entire state.” But don’t take it from me, take it from Chancellor Nancy Zimpher:
Note that the contract with EnergyMark was finalized last November, and the gas started flowing yesterday (April Fool’s Day). The press release was sent out one week ago today, with the stipulation per SUNY officials that it not mention hydrofracture.
On Friday, I filed a FOIL request with SUNY to obtain a copy of the contract, after being denied a copy by EnergyMark. We’ll see how long it takes that public document to come to light.
Yesterday, I published this blog post about SUNY signing a $22 million contract to buy hydrofracked natural gas for five of its campuses. It was interesting that the VP of EnergyMark—the vendor who got the lucrative contract—stressed that SUNY didn’t want the company’s press release to mention anything about fracking “because of the political nature” of the controversial drilling technique.
After numerous phone calls, SUNY spokesperson David Belsky finally replied via email:
The word “hydrofracking” – who said it, and who didn’t – is irrelevant to what this story should be about. The EnergyMark contract was achieved by five SUNY campuses working together to reduce costs. In fact, it’s one component of a larger, collaborative energy buying program that SUNY uses to bring all kinds of energy sources to campuses, saving our system approximately $1.5 million a year.
I disagree. I think the story is about how purposefully misleading SUNY is to the taxpayers of New York State. Do all New Yorkers agree that fracking is a good idea? No. That’s why SUNY didn’t want it known that they had signed a $22 million contract to buy natural gas produced this way.
SUNY is neck-deep in the drive to frack. UB has hosted seminars advocating the practice. Note that state geologist Langhorne B. “Taury” Smith Jr. was scratched from the speakers list because the State Education Department had barred him from talking publicly about fracking after he created controversy with his pro-fracking remarks. Consider the SUNY Fredonia Shale Research Institute, supported by several fossil fuel companies. Sources tell me UB is planning a big, team-taught course on the shale phenomenon this fall. Here’s the head of EnergyMark speaking at the last one:
SUNY greenwashes its image with this list of renewable energy accomplishments. Why not include this new deal to buy fracked natural gas and pipe it in to five campuses?
Here’s my message to you, David Belsky: You are out of line telling me what this story should be about. You’ve been a mouthpiece for SUNY administration ever since your days campaigning to be Trustee and President of the Student Association:
You are the paid spokesperson for the State University of New York, yet you don’t return phone calls from reporters. You are a brown-noser who thinks it’s cute to spout platitudes like “Hakuna matata,” as you did in this commencement speech at SUNY Binghamton in 2008.
The issue of fracking is of great concern to many New Yorkers, and SUNY has been caught downplaying its support of the practice. The most you can offer in defense is a lame, three sentence reply in an attempt to change the subject.
Have a nice weekend, sir. And don’t tell me what my stories “should be about.”
Click here to read how Business First reported the $22 million deal the State University of New York signed with Williamsville-based EnergyMark LLC to buy natural gas for five campuses over two years. The gas will be piped in to SUNY at Buffalo, Buffalo State College, Fredonia State College, Alfred State, and the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
According to the press release, this local gas supply “will be transported by pipelines direct from shallow vertical wells in New York and Marcellus Shale—horizontal wells in Pennsylvania.”
According to EnergyMark Vice President Tim Wright, that means the gas from Pennsylvania is extracted using the controversial hydrofracture method.
“A big source of that now is gas that has been recovered through a fracking technique. What we don’t want to put in the press release—and we talked to SUNY about this—is that this is specifically gas from a fracked well. SUNY said they were fine with a press release as long as we didn’t emphasize any fracking. And I think that’s because of the political nature of fracking versus the physical nature of the supply source. And frankly, there’s no way we can tell once the gas is put into a pipeline system,” Wright said.
The SUNY press office has not returned calls asking why they wanted their vendor not to mention fracking in the press release.