The potent yet science-free anti-fracking camp (fractavists) has the ear, and unfortunately most of the rest of, NY s Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He has personally kept the oil and gas drilling technology known popularly (or unpopularly) as fracking out of our state. Since there is no medical- or science-based reason why high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) of shale deposits of fossil fuels, along with horizontal drilling, should or have caused any health or environmental effects, the only reason for this ongoing moratorium (as the governor prefers to call it) is political pressure from his environmental allies. Since he plans to make a run for the Democratic presidental nomination beginning next year, he believes he cannot afford to flout that wing, so the state and our nation is to be denied the boon of plentiful shale gas under the state s part of the Marcellus shale.
But to really get a revealing glimpse of the micro-economics of this controversy, you must read this disturbing article in The Buffalo News: A Border Tale of Boom and Bust. Just a few of the poignant quotes tell the key points:
From north of the Divide:
Vitale s Organic Farm, located in New York s Steuben County and beset by what its owner calls high taxes and a regulation-happy state government, has shrunk in size by almost 30 percent. He s had to sell off land to stay afloat and it wouldn t have happened, he said, if the state had let him cash in on the riches buried thousands of feet beneath his property. I probably have millions of dollars of natural gas under my feet here, Vitale said, and I have to heat my house with wood.
From the PA side, things look different:
Those same riches the natural gas reserves of the Marcellus Shale also lay beneath Van Blarcom s Sugar Branch farms 50 miles to the southeast in Columbia Crossroads, Pa. There, the Pennsylvania state government permits Van Blarcom to sell his mineral rights and enjoy a windfall that has allowed him to expand his farm fivefold since 2009. I feel blessed, Van Blarcom said. What are the odds of being alive and owning real estate now when this gas has been here 350 million years?
More evidence of fracking s effects:
For areas willing to accept the environmental risk, fracking means money and jobs, at least for a while.
And for a long time now, upstate New York an economic laggard for decades has been missing out on it all.
In New York s Southern Tier, where the gas extraction method called hydraulic fracturing remains barred by a state moratorium dating back to 2008, federal labor statistics show that four contiguous gas-rich counties lost 4,945 jobs between September 2009 and September 2013.
Meanwhile, in the four counties of Pennsylvania s Northern Tier with the most fracked gas wells, 7,978 jobs have been created, and nearly half 3,893 appear to be directly related to fracking.
On top of that, per capita income in those Pennsylvania counties leaped 19 percent in the four years ending last September, compared with only 9 percent in the four New York counties, a Buffalo News analysis of economic reports shows.
Energy analysts and economists say it s clear that New York s fracking moratorium has cost the state jobs, economic development and tax revenue that Pennsylvania won. The only thing New York is doing is choosing to ship jobs and business to Pennsylvania, said Jack Weixel, energy analyst for Bentek Energy, a research firm that analyzes natural gas market trends.
ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross had this comment: I can t wait for the next two installments of this excellent illustration of the real-world costs of the anti-science policy of the New York government, based upon political pressure to benefit anti-technology activists and the governor s political agenda, while harming everyone else. Our readers should stay tuned for ACSH s publications on Fracking and Health, to be published within the next few weeks!