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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.


Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.


Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.


Fracking Fight Coming To Long Island

There are already more than 3,000 conventionally-drilled natural gas wells in New York, spread around 22 counties upstate. Go visit some of these places if you’re curious to see what happens to old railroad towns and factory towns when those things go away.

When the suits come by waving a contract that will let them open a high-volume hydraulic fracturing well on your property, it can seem like the only way out. You just want to believe, need to believe, that the stories the loudmouths are spreading aren’t true. The loudmouths who show up everywhere and say, “Don’t do this to the rest of us.”

And the loudmouths tell stories about what has happened in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas and other places. The stories are about rashes, headaches, joint pain and children with nosebleeds. They are about flammable faucet water and the smell of benzene.

Since 2008, “fracking” has been on hold in New York while, in a secretive and opaque process open only to insiders, the Cuomo Administration prepares regulations. Hundreds of thousands of acres are under lease and on hold, waiting for a decision that is already overdue and could come at any time.

We are being systematically trained to expect a bright, independent energy future is at hand, based around cleaner burning natural gas. It is the core concept of the Obama Administration’s energy policy. Nothing adds up.

Production from fracked wells declines precipitously after the first year or two. Montana production is down 38 percent since its peak in 2006, despite a significant increase in the number of wells.

The market price of natural gas in the U.S. is $3.68 per million British Thermal Units (MMBtu). The price ranges between $9 and $10 in Europe and between $13 to $18 in Asia. Gas is too cheap here; it’s going to places where it will not be so cheap. That’s why there are now 30 proposed liquified natural gas terminals around the U.S. and Canada.

The case for a natural gas future was predicated on premises that, one by one, have been weakened or kicked aside completely. Most importantly, we now know that “fugitive emissions” (leaked unburned methane) make shale gas at least as dirty as coal.

For hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, fracking is the fight of a lifetime, for a lifetime. Both political parties seem caught between their loyalty to the kind of powerful interests that make New York’s political world turn and an aroused public that is rapidly turning against fracking in New York.

Last week, the governor avoided protesters in Syracuse to attend a fund-raiser luncheon with ticket prices of up to $25,000. Some of the protesters were chanting, “Cuomo Must Go.”

In November 2011, a floor resolution opposing fracking was blocked for consideration by New York’s Democratic State Committee by its then-chairman, Jay Jacobs, still chairman of the Nassau County party committee. It had already been widely reported in upstate newspapers that Jacobs had signed fracking leases with Hess Corporation on some of his properties in Pennsylvania. There were very hard feelings. It came up again a few weeks ago when Pennsylvania Democrats passed a fracking moratorium resolution, embarrassing former Governor Ed Rendell, a prominent fracking promoter.

Phillipp Negron of Freeport surprised everyone last week by filing petitions to run as the Green Party candidate for county executive, potentially taking votes from whichever of the two Democrats in the field is nominated in the September primary. Democrats accused Negron of being a Republican plant. We’ll see. But in a brief statement about why he is running, the three most interesting words were “fracking” and “Jay Jacobs.”

Nassau County is on the front lines.