Submitted by admin on Sun, 01/15/2012 - 21:44
At City Journal:
From Australia and China to South Africa and Eastern Europe, the global economy is being transformed by the extraction of huge amounts of natural gas from shale rock. The United States has played a major part in this revolution; new “plays,” as fields of shale gas are known, are now producing in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Arkansas, Colorado, West Virginia, and other states. In the last three years, more than 3,000 gas wells have been drilled in western Pennsylvania’s share of the huge Marcellus shale formation. With more and more producers in the business, the price of natural gas has dropped steadily, and the U.S. has become the world’s leading producer of natural gas. A new age of clean, cheap shale-gas energy is about to begin—except, perhaps, in New York State, where influential environmental groups seem to be winning their struggle against shale.One might expect a no-drill agenda to find few friends in New York, which desperately needs the revenue and economic growth that shale gas has brought to other states. The Empire State faces a $3 billion budget gap for fiscal year 2013. According to State Budget Solutions, a nonpartisan think tank, New York’s deficits, long-term debt, and pension obligations total $305 billion. High taxes, unemployment, and a burdensome cost of living make New York Number One in emigration to other states. Governor Andrew Cuomo has described the state’s financial outlook as “grim.”Shale gas development would help turn things around, especially in rural areas where jobs are scarce. Much of upstate New York sits directly on top of geological features that hold the promise of an economic bonanza—including the Marcellus, one of the largest shale-gas formations in the world, and the Utica, an even larger formation beneath the Marcellus that extends from Kentucky to Ontario. The Marcellus and Utica formations represent an extraordinary opportunity for New York. Various studies agree that for decades to come, shale-gas development in the state could create billions of dollars in new economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs....