Appalachian Basin

Southern Tier Needs Safe Natural Gas Development Now

Charlie Carpenter takes a look at New York’s stall techniques when health studies exist and other states are moving forward with natural gas regulations in a fraction of the time it’s taken New York to still be undecided.

Our region – the southern tier – is in a death spiral. When I graduated from high school, Binghamton had over 80,000 people – now it is under 45,000. Industry has left – Endicott Johnson, GE, Singer Link, GAF and most of IBM to name a few. We are now left with only a great university and community college and two very good health care systems.

Our youth when they graduate leave the area – there  are no jobs for them. The southern tier has lost a generation. We are like Europe in 1945 when a generation was gone as a result of the war. We need to be able to help ourselves and we need to be able to do it now – not in years.


I recently came across two excellent studies addressing some of the very issues that seemed to be at the forefront of natural gas delays in New York. The first addresses disease and death rates in a group of 18,000 Australian workers in the gas and oil industry that have been studied for 25 years and is on going. The second, also ongoing, addresses air quality in the Fort Worth area.

Through the ongoing study of Australian oil and natural gas workers, including former employees, the Australian Institute of Petroleum and the Department of Public Health at the University of Adelaide have shown cancer rates to be the same in oilfield workers as the general population (p. 42), and the death rates for men and women are significantly lower for workers than the general population (p. 33).

The age-adjusted death rate in men is significantly less than in the general Australian male population. Death rates in all major disease categories – heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diseases of the digestive system, and external causes (accidents, violence etc) – are also significantly less than the corresponding rates for the male population.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and other studies of the Fort Worth, Texas area, have found no immediate health concerns from natural gas operations in the community and continues to monitor air quality to ensure public health is not in jeopardy.

After several months of operation, state-of-the-art, 24-hour air monitors in the Barnett Shale area are showing no levels of concern for any chemicals. This reinforces our conclusion that there are no immediate health concerns from air quality in the area, and that when they are properly managed and maintained, oil and gas operations do not cause harmful excess air emissions. (emphasis added)

Yet, New York wants to rely on a health study that hasn’t even occurred yet. The Geisinger health study which sounds great in the press will not give meaningful results for many years. The Australian study now has results for over 25 years.

I find it hard to believe that Illinois could get all the players together – lawmakers, industry, landowners and environmentalist – and draft reasonable regulations in 14 months and in New York State we are still playing politics after 4 1/2 years.

As the budget process moves foreword wouldn’t be nice if you had more revenue (millions and millions)  from natural gas to address the needs of All New Yorkers for their education, health care and other programs?

The southern tier needs SAFE natural gas development now. And there is evidence that Safe Drilling can be done! Finalize the regulations so we can work to become prosperous once again. We want to work – not get a hand out.



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