Energy & Environment

All they are saying is give fracking a chance

All they are saying is give fracking a chance
Yoko Ono appears at a news conference to launch the coalition of artists opposing hydraulic fracturing.

Grab the first three people you meet in Albany and ask them when Gov. Cuomo and his team plan to issue final regulations governing the safe development of natural gas from shale in New York, and chances are, you’ll get at least three different answers.

Some see the final rules coming this month; others say they’ve been ready since the summer just sitting on the shelf. The cynics will tell you, and they’re probably right, that it won’t hit until after Election Day. For their part, environmentalists would actually prefer that no regulations are issued at all—recognizing that without final rules in place, producers won’t be able to seek or acquire the permits they need to move forward.

Albany has spent nearly four years studying, analyzing, and engaging with the public on shale and hydraulic fracturing, while the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation released a draft report last year outlining the best ways to mitigate the risks while maximizing the benefits. At 1,500 pages in length, it represents perhaps the most stringent regulatory program for oil and gas development ever compiled in the U.S.

Despite the state’s long list of scientific conclusions indicating that fracturing technology can be regulated effectively (and is) and won’t destroy the environment (and doesn’t), opponents remain incorrigible. Tellingly, no longer able to claim that science supports their case, the opposition has deputized Yoko Ono and her son, Sean, to lead the charge in opposition to the jobs, revenue and opportunity that safe development could provide for New York. As if breaking up the Beatles wasn’t bad enough.

Take a quick look at some of their more ridiculous claims:

Groundwater contamination

The movie “Gasland” showcased a flaming faucet that director Josh Fox linked to hydraulic fracturing. But what Fox neglected to mention is that state regulators checked out that property, and determined that oil and gas development had nothing to do with what was shown on the film. For their part, regulators in New York have determined that “no significant adverse impact to water resources is likely to occur” due to hydraulic fracturing. Even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson—no shill for oil and gas—has said that “in no case have we made a definitive determination that [hydraulic fracturing] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”


A Google search for “fracking earthquakes” yields thousands of scary headlines. But what do actual experts say? Bill Ellsworth, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazard Program, recently said: “We don’t see any connection between fracking and earthquakes of any concern to society.” The National Research Council, part of the prestigious National Academies, concluded hydraulic fracturing “does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events.” New York regulators also found “no increased risk to the public, infrastructure, or natural resources from induced seismicity related to hydraulic fracturing.”

Water depletion

Opponents love talking about the volume of water used during the fracturing process, but they are not providing the context necessary to evaluate their claims. According to one of the largest water suppliers in Texas’ Barnett Shale region, water used for oil and gas development is one-half of one percent of total demand. Its 0.1 percent in Colorado. New York estimates hydraulic fracturing would, at peak activity, increase demand by 0.24 percent—less than one-quarter of one percent.


A single study from Cornell University, authored by anti-shale activist Robert Howarth, concluded that developing natural gas from shale produced more greenhouse gases than producing energy from coal. His study is cited far and wide by opponents, but it has been debunked by his colleagues at Cornell, researchers at the University of Maryland, and even a study funded by the Sierra Club, one of the most vocal opponents of hydraulic fracturing.

All of which brings us back to New York, where opponents continue to use the same debunked talking points to advocate for a total ban on hydraulic fracturing, notwithstanding the fact that natural gas has been safely developed in the state (using hydraulic fracturing) since the late 1940s. Gov. Cuomo won’t say when his administration will decide. Opponents have already threatened him politically should he make a science-based choice.

Complicating matters just a bit: The state estimates that shale development would be a clear economic winner, creating more than 50,000 new jobs and generating more than $100 million each year in new state and local taxes.

The only question: Will Gov. Cuomo sacrifice these benefits and the future of New York to appease a potent political special interest? Or will he allow science to be his guide, and the improvement of the welfare of his constituents to be his goal?

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  • jagscl

    The rabid environmental movement doesn’t care about facts, jobs or for that matter people. They will not be content until development of fossil fuels becomes so expensive that it regulates development out of existence (coal; new refineries). These people won’t be satisfied until we are back in the horse and buggy and even then they would want to regulate every activity from feeding the horse to the size of a carriage.

  • Common_Sense96

    I think we should be energy independent. However – a lot of folks in NY aren’t rabid environmentalists – and don’t even agree with them. Individual homeowners – under the current system – are powerless – and could be wiped out – if – Heaven forbid – a mishap or accident with fracking did happen and affected their water – or placed constant noise near their property, where before there was none. Home/land owners cannot sue the leaseholders or the gas companies. For example, how could a homeowner sue based on a chemical now in their water that the gas company won’t admit to using? It is a legal fact that leaseholders are immune from being sued by anyone else affected by activities they allowed on their land – well – this particular activity.
    Gas companies will be rolling in money – if they would just take responsiblity for buying the properties (not just at market value – but enough for the home owner to get in another home somewhere else and be in the same financial position as before) – where they caused harm or directly caused an environment where the homeowner will never be able to sell their home (well – except currently, for pennies to the gas companies).
    I would love fracking to happen everywhere – but it’s like a lotto ticket – I’d buy one for the one in a million chance of winning big – but why should I buy one – where there is also a chance – of losing everything?
    I suspect many posters on this issue aren’t in the position to lose their home – and thus – everything they’ve worked for in their lives, if a mishap from fracking did happen. There are lots out there that aren’t rich and can’t thake this chance – even if one in a million. If you cannot sell your home someday – directly because of another’s actions – and you have no recourse – then you have no financial future. …And please – don’t compare this to people underwater in their houses or the banks….leave to that the liberals!
    The media and the authors of aritcles like this never address this exact point that a large number of us out there might be facing. Would you take that chance with your house/life savings to crash because of this? Put in legal safeguards for those that don’t have a lease to protect thier assets – and thus their lives and future – and you will find much more support for whatever the gas companies want to do!
    Scoff at my comment if you wish – but if you aren’t in the situation – you really shouldn’t.

  • Common_Sense96

    Ha-ha – does anyone think for one minute that (especially if liberals stay in charge….) – that the solar/wind/green/eco subsidies will stop????? That’s just as funny as the “global warming” comment!

  • Wxcynic

    But they expect the lights to come on and the gas to pump when they flip the switch.

  • WestHoustonGeo

    Look, New York, stand your ground and oppose fracturing (done on 90% of wells drilled, these days)! That will send the jobs and permit revenue and lease fees and royalties to other states – my own included. I am only too happy to have landowners becoming millionaires and municipalities and state institutions receiving big royalties, instead of asking for more taxes. Times are good here. Thanks, NY!
    Oh, and you can keep Yoko Ono, okay?

  • RenegadeScholar

    There is NO viable energy source that the enviro-nuts will tolerate.

  • 56blue9

    The justification for wind and solar subsidies would end if it was shown (and understood) that America had many decades of natural gas at its disposal. Would that mean that the subsidies would end? The answer depends on which set of subsidies is your focus. Tax credits probably would continue for some time because legislators would not act until the public demanded an end to the credits and people don’t understand that tax credits cost them money. Subsidies in electric bills, however, are set by state public service commissions and they might well end if agency staffs or intervenors made the case that plentiful natural gas would provide affordable, clean base line energy for many decades to come.


    This was a very informative article (of which I will quote from to the enlightenment of my anti-fracking friends), but I do have to disagree with you on one small point. When you wrote “…and even a study funded by the Sierra Club, one of the most vocal
    opponents of hydraulic fracturing”, I have to point out that the Sierra Club actually received large donations from the natural gas industry back in 2010, allegedly because they believe that natural gas it is less harmful to the environment than burning either oil or coal in the production of electricity.

  • yukonheart

    Frack a lib ……… that’s why GOd made em !