Cuomo Forecloses on New York’s Economic Future

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that his administration will uphold its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The decision ends years of stalling and speculation as to whether the governor would allow New Yorkers to enjoy the benefits of affordable energy.

By banning hydraulic fracturing, Cuomo is squandering an opportunity for New York to join America’s energy boom. Parts of upstate New York sit atop the Marcellus shale formation, which contains vast supplies of natural gas. A study by the Manhattan Institute finds that shale gas drilling would offer New York enormous economic benefits, including:

  • $11.4 billion in economic output.
  • 15,000 to 18,000 jobs in the Southern Tier and Western New York from the Marcellus and another 75,000 to 90,000 jobs if exploration was expanded to include the Utica shale and southeastern New York, including the New York City watershed.
  • $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenues.

Cuomo’s pretext for banning hydraulic fracturing is the recent release of a long-awaited study from the state health commission. The study finds “significant public health risks” associated with hydraulic fracturing.

While no energy source is without risk, the benefits of hydraulic fracturing far outweigh the costs. A typical Marcellus shale gas well generates about $4 million in benefits, while economic damage resulting from environmental impacts amount to $14,000 per well, according to the Manhattan Institute.

Cuomo’s decision keeps the state’s enviable energy resources under lock and key. The Marcellus is by far America’s most productive shale gas play, with output topping 16 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day in December 2014. (The second biggest play, the Permian Basin, produced just over 6 bcf per day this month).

Instead of unlocking those resources, Cuomo caved under pressure from environmental groups bent on halting responsible energy development and foregoing economic growth. The message is clear: if you like affordable energy, look elsewhere—New York isn’t for you.

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