Empire Statement

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that his administration would prohibit “hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas.” This move was hailed by anti-shale energy activists, but many analysts observed that it was a nakedly political move that had little to do with science or data.

Katie Brown of Energy In Depth was among the commentators pointing out the inaccuracy of the claim “that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to ensure the process (of hydraulic fracturing) is safe.” In fact, according to Brown, many of the studies cited by the New York Department of Health as influencing their decision have “been either discredited or shown to have exceedingly faulty methodologies.” Also, “when discussing just about every one of these dubious studies, DOH admits that they actually didn’t have any evidence to link hydraulic fracturing to health impacts.” Michael Lynch of Forbes observed that the move gives the impression that “regulation (in New York) is a popularity contest, not science driven.”

As with other areas that have taken up the fashionable anti-fracking cause, New York will still count on natural gas for a large portion of their energy needs. Mary Leschper of the Energy Tomorrow blog points out “New Yorkers rely heavily on natural gas for their electricity – 54 percent of New York households use natural gas for home heating. Natural gas is the largest energy source for the state by far: In 2010, New York used approximately 1,198 Bcf of natural gas, making it the fourth-largest natural gas-consuming state in the nation. Where does this natural gas come from? You guessed it, fracking.”

Also, residents of New York City will continue to enjoy the benefits of natural gas as they seek to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently bragged that “since 2005, New Yorkers have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 19%, largely through a transition to natural gas for electricity generation, and cleaner fuels for heating our buildings.”

Perhaps Texans and residents of other shale energy producing states should be happy about the New York decision as it means more investment and opportunity for us, but it is hard not to feel for the landowners and workers who would love the chance to experience the energy boom that we have enjoyed over the last decade.

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