July 22, 2011
If a new study out of Penn State doesn’t make New Yorkers breathless at the chance to allow hydraulic fracturing — a new method for extracting natural gas — absolutely nothing will.
The study says Pennsylvania, which allows the process (also known as fracking), will reap a $12.8 billion bonanza this year from drilling. The spike in activity has helped create nearly 140,000 jobs, both inside and outside the industry.
Spending for natural-gas extraction in the Keystone State (not even including salaries) came to $4.7 billion in 2009, $11.1 billion last year and could reach $14.5 billion in 2012.
Indeed, Pennsylvania may soon pass Texas as the nation’s top natural-gas exporter, producing nearly 3.5 billion cubic feet a day. New York, which does not yet allow fracking, turned out just 35.8 billion cubic feet all of last year.
Even if the report is a bit overstated, as critics claim, it nonetheless suggests the kind of notable economic rewards that may be possible from fracking — particularly in Upstate’s blighted Southern Tier, home to the gas-rich Marcellus Shale.
Not that overzealous environmentalists care, of course: They’re working overtime to block the promising new process — on both the national and state levels.
And, as Christopher Helman of Forbes warns, federal regulation — of the kind the EPA is now considering — could lead to a dramatic and costly reduction in US gas production.
In New York, meanwhile, the Cuomo administration has recommended that the state go-ahead with fracking — but it’s moving slowly toward a final OK.
Looks like it’s time to speed things up.
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