The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Fiddling While New Yorkers Struggle to Find Jobs

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 8, 2013

A pair of news items this week from New York state:

1) The state unemployment rate rose to 8.4 percent in January, compared with 8.2 percent in December. (Note: The national jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent last month.)

2) The State Assembly voted to extend New York’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing two more years, to 2015. Although the state has been studying shale energy and hydraulic fracturing during the moratorium, which was imposed in 2008, Speaker Sheldon Silver said community health and safety shouldn’t be jeopardized by “rushing” state reviews.

The Assembly vote extending the moratorium isn’t final. The state’s Senate would have to pass it and Gov. Andrew Cuomo would have to sign it. But the sentiment behind the vote is breathtaking, given joblessness in New York in general and the individual anguish of many state residents – especially people living in the state’s Southern Tier, through which the Marcellus Shale runs.

People in that part of New York know what shale energy development means by simply looking across the state line into Pennsylvania: job creation, direct and associated economic growth, revenue generated for government and individual wealth for lease holders.

For many New Yorkers delay means squandered opportunity to hold onto family farms that would be lifted by cash infusions from companies that are safely and responsibly developing natural gas from shale. For others it means watching an entire region spiral downward from the lack of forward economic momentum that lets local businesses expand, that allows people to spend money on the things their families need. It means an absence of hope for finding well-paying jobs that would let them stay in the communities where they were raised. Said Karen Moreau, New York State Petroleum Council executive director, “The people of New York deserve better.”

According to a Manhattan Institute study, here’s what “better” could look like – if New York state leaders would lift their moratorium and allow responsible shale development to go ahead:

  • 15,000 to 18,000 jobs created in the Southern Tier and Western New York – regions that lost a combined 48,000 payroll jobs between 2008 and 2010.
  • Another 75,000 to 90,000 jobs if shale exploration and drilling were expanded to the Utica shale and southeastern New York.
  • $11.4 billion in economic output.
  • $1.4 billion in tax revenues to localities and the state.

Moreau:

“(The) vote by the State Assembly to further delay natural gas development is tantamount to telling the people of the Southern Tier to ‘Drop Dead.’ … We have waited four years and seven months for ‘science’ to determine the outcome of this debate. For the Assembly to step in to further delay the process, even though a year ago the Department of Health determined that hydraulic fracturing could be done safely, speaks volumes about Albany. I know they want the people to believe that the days of dysfunction are behind us, but talking to a few real people from the Southern Tier would set them straight in a hurry. In the end, this is Gov. Cuomo's decision. He can and must move forward with safe natural gas development and create the jobs and revenue needed to save the Southern Tier before it's too late.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.