Appalachian Basin

Natural Gas Opponents Ignore Many Key Facts

Editors note: This post originally appeared in the Elmira Star Gazette

New Yorkers have been subject to a lot of fear-mongering recently. In just the past few weeks, opinion articles across the state have declared hydraulic fracturing will decimate our dairy industry ruin the health of our residents, and foul our water for generations to come. One article was so sensational it declared that “entire states have been turned into sacrifice zones.”

The only problem with these assertions is, well, they simply aren’t true.

These articles represent an anti-natural gas opposition that is desperate to paint a safe process as being environmentally ruinous. They are engaging in hyperbole because they believe doing so will solidify their followers, pick up new ones along the way, and pressure the governor into making a decision that supports their agenda.

While it’s exciting to live in a world of sensationalism, most New Yorkers reside in a world where critical decisions are guided by facts, pragmatism, responsible debate and knowledge. When these more realistic parameters are considered, the claims of “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox and his activist supporters quickly lose their appeal.

After all, a review shows that three presidential administrations — Clinton, Bush and Obama — have all testified to the safety of natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing. This is supported by statements made by regulators in over 16 U.S. states, by countless government and academic studies, and by respected environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund.

In fact, one of the most succinct, and powerful, quotes supporting the safety of natural gas development comes from the president these activists helped elect. In his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama stated, “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.”

Surely, all these individuals and groups don’t serve an oil industry master.

Natural gas well site in Pennsylvania in production

Natural gas development is safe and will provide great benefit to our state’s economy and environment. In some areas, it already has. According to an analysis by the American City Business Journals conducted in 2011, two of the top five wage growing counties in New York are Stueben and Chemung counties. These counties saw increases of 9.42 percent and 5.97 percent respectively, placing them at 8th and 27th place among the top 100 in the nation. The only significant economic development in these areas has been the influx of business related to Marcellus Shale development occurring in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo needs to give the Southern Tier a fighting chance. He must ignore the hysterics, ignore the “celebrities,” do as he said he would and make a decision based on the science. Such a decision can only come out in favor of natural gas development proceeding under the strongest regulations in the nation.


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