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December 22, 2014

While New Study Outlines Natural Gas’s Benefits To Manufacturing Sector, New York State Will Ban Fracking

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced last week that he will support his Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens who early next year is expected to issue a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state. According to The Associated Press, “Martens noted the low price of natural gas, the high local cost of industry oversight, and the large areas that would be off limits to shale gas development because of setback requirements, water supply protections and local prohibitions. Those factors, he said, combine to make fracking less economically beneficial than anticipated.” 

American Petroleum Institute Executive Director Karen Moreau argued, “The secretary of energy, the U.S. EPA administrator and President Obama recognize the benefits of fracking, and yet the Cuomo administration simply did not want to anger their activist base.” A moratorium on fracking has been in place in New York since 2008. The governor said he expects the ban to be the subject of several lawsuits. Meanwhile, according to Politico Pro (subscription required), a poll for Siena College in New York recently found voters in the state are pretty much split on the question of fracking. Thirty-eight percent of voters oppose allowing fracking while 35 percent support it. The rest of the individuals polled either said they had no opinion on the issue or did not know enough about the subject to make a determination. 

Arguably, the decision to ban fracking will have a detrimental effect on energy consumers in the state and the state’s economic health. In a blog post last week the National Association of Manufacturers compared New York with Pennsylvania and found while unconventional gas (including natural gas) production will sustain 79,000 jobs in New York by 2035, Pennsylvania will be home to more than 387,000 jobs related to gas production at the same point. The difference? New York has a ban and Pennsylvania does not. 

The NAM analysis is not the only one that has revealed the potential economic benefits of additional natural gas exploration. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently released a study that found manufacturers could save up to $22.3 billion annually by 2030 because of increased natural gas production. Additional natural gas exploration could also lead to 930,000 new jobs in the manufacturing sector by 2030 and more than 1.4 million by 2040.