Appalachian Basin

Cuomo Acknowledges Natural Gas Benefits While Missing the Bigger Picture

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has found yet another way to reap some of the benefits of natural gas development across the border in Pennsylvania, all while continuing to delay making a decision on his own state’s moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

The governor announced two days ago there has been a $150 million agreement reached with the city of Dunkirk to repower and expand the Dunkirk Power Plant by converting it to a 435 megawatt natural gas facility.

Why would they do this? According to Cuomo himself, it “will result in a larger, cleaner power plant at Dunkirk that will meet reliability needs, reduce costs for consumers, create jobs and stabilize the local property tax base.”

The lack of awareness is stunning. Does Governor Cuomo realize how the natural gas that will fuel this expansion was produced? Two words: hydraulic fracturing.

But the Governor does have it right. Building natural gas infrastructure is good for the New York economy.  But then again, natural gas development would also be an economic winner for our state.

The power plant is currently operating at 75 megawatts, but the expansion would create approximately 50 new construction jobs and other permanent jobs once the facility has been fully converted.  The tax payments to the local government would reach $8 million yearly.

Governor Cuomo praises all of the changes the plant will face once it is converted to natural gas.  The real question still remains, though: if he supports this, then why doesn’t he support developing that natural gas in his own state?  Why does the power plant have to import natural gas when there is an abundant supply of the fuel right under our feet?

If 50 construction jobs and a few permanent jobs sounded great to Cuomo, he would fall over if he heard the number of jobs natural gas development would bring to the state.  In Pennsylvania, the number of employees is around 240,000, with 70 percent of the jobs going to instate workers.

The news this week is wonderful for the city of Dunkirk, but the broader reality is unchanged.  The state of New York is suffering.  We need jobs, economic development, and tax revenue – all things that natural gas companies would contribute to the towns, villages, cities, and counties. We certainly could use a cheaper energy source, too.

Unfortunately, the rest of New York is still left to suffer and wonder when the governor will finally realize natural gas is the light at the end of the tunnel for many New Yorkers.

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