A new report from a conservative think tank says income levels would grow more rapidly upstate if New York allows hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale.
The report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy found New York counties sitting within the gas-rich formation could see their per-capita income increase by 15 percent by 2015 if the state gives shale-gas drillers the green light.
That figure would represent a 6 percentage point increase over the counties’ current trends.
“By our count, there are immediate and concrete benefits in hydrofracturing wells: more money in the pockets of the people, more tax revenue for the state,” the report reads. “These data deserve close attention and consideration as New York State confronts its decision.”
The Empire Center is the state-centric branch of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a business-backed think tank.
The report examines Pennsylvania economic data from 2007 through 2011 and extrapolates it to New York, finding generally that the counties that saw the most high-volume wells saw the most rapid income growth. Those counties are mostly in the northeast and southwest corners of the state.
Overall, the paper — authored by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, who was chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor under the Bush Administration — found that the 28 New York counties that lie within the Marcellus Shale could generate as much as $8.29 billion in extra income by 2015 if large-scale fracking is allowed.
But that figure is based on an unlikely assumption: That all of those counties would see 400 wells drilled. The “sweet spot” of the shale is believed to be along the Pennsylvania border, while counties like Albany, Erie, Genesee and others on the outer edge are not believed to be targeted for development.
The positive economic impacts have been the main selling point for proponents of fracking, who also have highlighted the energy benefits of producing natural gas domestically and shifting from coal.
Opponents of fracking, however, point to the environmental detriments of the heavy industrial activity and the potential for damaging errors. The economic benefits are overblown and temporary, they say.
“Reputable, independent studies have shown that the job gains promised by the gas industry are temporary, and bring increased infrastructure costs that these studies rarely examine,” said John Armstrong, a spokesman for New Yorkers Against Fracking. “Once the workers have gone back to Louisiana and the gas industry has shipped its profits to Texas, our communities would be left with toxic air and water. That’s not a good deal for New York.”
Here’s the Empire Center/Manhattan Institute report: