Appalachian Basin

New York Still Biting The Hand That Heats

A petition circulating in Rockland County, New York shows downstate New Yorkers lack an understanding of  where their heat comes from and appear to just be biting at the hand that heats.  A majority of Rockland County is heated by natural gas.  Why would an area that uses natural gas want to continue to delay natural gas development from coming into New York’s Southern tier. 

I recently heard from a friend who lives in West Nyack, New York that someone was going door-to-door looking for people to sign a petition to ban hydraulic fracturing from crossing the border into the Empire State.  All she is really doing is biting the hand that heats.

West Nyack, New York is located in Rockland County and is very close to my hometown; an area that will never see gas development because of its geology.  The women also stated Pennsylvania was now a wasteland because of hydraulic fracturing.  Anyone who lives in the shale gas region, as I now do, can tell you this is an outright lie.  This women going door-to-door appeared to be armed with nothing but misinformation and a clipboard.

A little background on Rockland County will help anyone understand why something like this is a big deal.  Rockland County is located approximately 40 minutes north of New York City (NYC), which is important for two different reasons.

First, the geology shows us Rockland County will never see any type of natural gas development besides the occasional pipeline.

Second, with Rockland’s proximity to NYC there is always the opportunity for a vast amount of jobs available to those living in the area.  Those in Rockland forget how good they have it, with a major city just a short drive away.  Those living in New York’s Southern Tier don’t have that opportunity and a quick drive through Chemung, Steuben or Tioga Counties will show you that.

Marcelluswebactive (1)

Rockland County (Red) In Relation to Marcellus Shale Boundary

Residents of Rockland County, like everyone else , need to heat their homes during the winter.  The utility company serving Rockland is Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. (O&R).  O&R provides 130,000 homes in the area with natural gas as a heating and cooking fuel source.

Nearly 130,000 Orange & Rockland customers use natural gas in their homes and businesses every day. Natural gas is clean, efficient, and delivered safely and reliably straight to their doorstep. Orange & Rockland delivers this natural gas through its underground network of approximately 1,800 miles of pipelines, primarily in the states of New York and Pennsylvania.

Orange & Rockland Utilities 

It’s clear Rockland County is reaping the benefits of this cheap, abundant, domestic fuel source.  Not only that, but O&R even dedicates a page on their website touting the benefits of using natural gas.

It’s clean…
Natural gas is the cleanest of all fossil fuels and is simply the best energy choice for the environment — inside and outside your home.
It’s domestic…
99% of the gas we use comes from North America — 84% from the U.S.* Increased use of natural gas can reduce our dependence on oil imported from the Middle East.
It’s economical…
Natural gas appliances are virtually maintenance-free and that means additional savings.
It’s efficient…
When the entire cycle of producing, processing, transporting and using energy is considered, natural gas is delivered to you with a “total energy efficiency” of about 90%. Moreover, gas appliances and equipment are extremely efficient.
It’s multi-purpose…
It can heat your entire home, make your hot water, dry your clothes and help you cook your meals — in the oven or on the barbecue grill. New residential uses range from fireplaces and air conditioners to microturbines and fuel cells.
It’s dependable…
You never have to worry about weather, delivery schedules or running out.

In 1999, 70 percent of newly constructed single-family homes used natural gas for space heating, compared with 47 percent in 1986*.

Orange & Rockland Utilities 

I’m glad O&R understands the benefits associated with natural gas, but why doesn’t the women petitioning?  The U.S. Census, in fact, indicates 87.1% of all occupied Rockland County housing units utilize natural gas.  Is it too much ask that she think about that and the fact this gas is produced using the technology she opposes before she launches her politically correct campaign against the hand that heats her community?

New York As A Whole

Rockland County is directly benefiting from shale gas development, which is more than evident in the number of people using the resource for heating purposes.  Not only is it an energy source, shale gas has brought a lot more to the Empire State.  According to a 2012 analysis by IHS Global Insight, the unconventional gas industry has already given New York:

  • 26,887 total jobs in 2010, projected to increase to 58,377 by 2035.
  • $1.87 billion in total labor income in 2010, projected to increase to $4.07 billion for New York workers by 2035.
  • $2.3 billion in value-added economic output in 2010, projected to increase to $5 billion by 2035.

Natural gas is also being  used increasingly for power generation in New York, now accounting for 35.7% of electricity generated.

Finally, New York is also now home to 107 compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations with a majority located in New York City.  This new infrastructure also opens opportunities for businesses.  A few days ago the first ever food truck to run on natural gas was unveiled in New York City.


Mayor Bloomberg Buying Pizza From the CNG fueled Truck

If we stopped biting at the hand that heats; that is to say hydraulic fracturing; we would be able to develop this resource safely in New York. It’s evident downstate New York is using the natural gas more every day and  if we started developing it in the users backyard this quick to market advantage would create lower energy costs and even more opportunities.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be listening to natural gas opponents who use so much natural gas.


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