A consulting company assisting with New York’s review of hydraulic fracturing says it severed ties with a gas-industry trade group after the organization “misrepresented” the company’s membership status, according to a letter sent Wednesday to state regulators.
Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported Monday that Ecology and Environment Inc. had been listed as a member of the Independent Oil and Gas Association in a letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to allow hydrofracking and shale-gas drilling in New York. The association has been one of the most-active groups lobbying in favor of fracking in the state.
The Erie County-based company had been touted as an “independent” consultant by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2011 when it was tapped to assess the economic impacts of allowing high-volume fracking in New York.
In a letter to a DEC Deputy Commissioner Eugene Leff on Wednesday, Ecology and Environment said it has never had a corporate membership with the gas-industry group, but has paid for an employee’s personal membership since 2008. But since IOGA had “misrepresented (the company’s) affiliation,” the employee’s membership has since been terminated.
“Neither E & E, nor its employees, have taken an active role in promoting any IOGA positions on fracking,” In-house Counsel and Assistant Secretary Colleen Mullaney-Westfall wrote in the letter. “In fact, E & E’s nationwide policy has been to not take any position on fracking and only provide objective environmental consulting services in that regard.”
UPDATE: In a separate letter (which was also released by DEC this afternoon), IOGA Executive Director Brad Gill says the trade group doesn’t offer corporate memberships and confirms that no Ecology and Environment employees are now members of the association. In its letter to Cuomo Monday, the trade group listed more than 200 companies as members.
Earlier Wednesday, the New York Public Interest Research Group called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rescind the state’s review of fracking, which is known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement and is meant to guide New York’s decision on whether to allow it.
Ecology and Environment’s full letter can be read below: