Appalachian Basin

Natural Gas Is Coming To New York Even If Yoko Doesn’t Go GaGa

A few weeks ago the Oneonta Star printed two AP stories with no apparent connection. However, what I call “The Gas Wars” make for strange bedfellows, even on the news beat.  Let me explain the connection.

The first story was a report out of the Empire Center, a non-partisan think tank that focuses on New York. In “The Graying of the Empire State: Some Parts of NY Grow Older Faster,” the researchers highlighted the growing regional differences in age distribution, particularly in young adults 20 to 34 who are abandoning Upstate New York. It further noted the decline in children and teenagers in our area, a demographic fact that runs contrary to broader national trends.

No surprise here. Richard Dietz of the 2nd Federal Reserve also studied this issue. His findings: if Upstate New York were considered a state of its own, its out-migration of 25 to 40 year olds would be considered average (26th out of the 50 states). However, the in-migration of people of this age would rank us 49th out of 50 states. Nobody’s coming here to find work.


Source: Federal Reserv


Both reports cite the lack of opportunity and jobs as the preeminent factors in this population decline.  Most ominous from the Empire Center report is this:

the relative youthfulness of a population is a important precursor of future economic growth…unless the upstate region can attract more young workers and their families, its population of children and young adults will continue to spiral downward.

We can add “as will Upstate’s economic potential.”

The second story, relating to a little noticed (in the mainstream media at least) U.S. Energy Information Agency technical report, noted the drop in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. to a twenty year low (see EIS chart below). Reason: with abundant, cheap natural gas available now and in the foreseeable future, power plant operators are switching to gas, a clean burning fuel.



The connection of these two stories lies in the irony that those purporting to be most concerned about earth conservancy and sustainability are against the one job growth engine that would serve both in our area. That engine is safe, responsible natural gas development.

The “sustainables” tout farming, light industry, and tourism as a basis for economic development. Fine, as far as it goes, but gas development will open opportunities in over 50 different trades, job categories, and service industries, all at good wages.

What’s sustaining our youth today?  Nothing much.  They’re moving out.  The family farms that are hanging on wait for gas development to make equipment upgrades so as to become competitive. The opportunity and the jobs that would come from natural gas development are opposed by those who would conserve the Earth. But wait…gas development IS conserving the Earth, at least by carbon dioxide standards.

The tide is turning. Everybody knows it.  Natural gas development is coming to New York. From Obama to Bloomberg, the word is out.  The Governor is in, just waiting for the right time to announce.  The Environmental Defense Fund is in. Others will join.

But apparently the memo hasn’t reached the “sustainables” in Otsego County. They’re still playing the same old “fire on the hillsides, desolation in the valleys” tune. However, even with Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, and Lady Gaga singing harmony, that tune won’t chart.

There is something called reality.

Reality is that nine out of ten wells developed are hydraulically fractured. When you turn the key in your car, fry an egg on the stove, use a plastic fork at a picnic, transfuse blood in a hospital, or walk into the interior of the 787 Dreamliner, you’re making use of a material whose origin was hydraulically fractured.

Hype and fear work best in the absence of reality. Reality is just a short ride 70 miles south of us. Do yourself a favor. Take that ride.

Note: A version of this article appeared in the Oneonta Star.

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