New York Subpoenas Energy Companies Over Fracking

Well assessments may have been incorrect

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New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has subpoenaed three major energy companies over claims they made about the potential yield of oil and gas wells, widening the debate over a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technique, which involves pumping water and chemicals into subterranean shale to break it apart and release gas, has been widely criticized as a pollution hazard for groundwater. The New York Times Ian Urbina broke the story:

Subpoenas were sent to the three companies — Range Resources, Cabot Oil and Gas, and Goodrich Petroleum — according to the sources, who have direct knowledge of the investigation. Mr. Schneiderman also broadened a continuing investigation by his office into a fourth company, Chesapeake Energy, asking it to respond to similar questions about its shale gas wells, they said.


The four companies were chosen because they are heavily involved in natural gas drilling and because New York State has over $45 million of its pension money invested with them. If a company improperly reported to investors how its wells were likely to perform or failed to disclose the true costs of drilling, there could be repercussions for the state’s financial portfolio.

The subpoenas come, Urbina reported, "as New York’s governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, seeks to end a de facto shale gas drilling moratorium caused by state regulators’ extensive review of the environmental impact and the regulation of such drilling in the state." The debate over fracking has already halted fracking at 15,000 sites along the Delaware River, as Schneiderman sued federal agencies to require further review of the proposal. Schneiderman subpoenaed the energy companies under the state's Martin Act, which Elliot Spitzer famously used to investigate Wall Street when he was attorney general in the mid 2000s.

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