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Editorial Board   Washington post
Friday, Oct 5, 2012

NEW YORK STATE has become the country’s most intense battleground in the fight over unconventional natural-gas drilling, known as fracking. Now anti-fracking activists in the Empire State are claiming a victory. They ought to think twice about what they are wishing for.

Those who would ban fracking or regulate it into oblivion ignore the exceptional benefits that inexpensive natural gas can provide in the biggest environmental fight of our time — against climate change.

After four years of review, state regulators opted for another round of public-health analysis before they permit new unconventional wells. More analysis will probably trigger another public-comment period, even though the state has already taken in nearly 80,000 comments.

Why more delay? Among other things, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and other officials say that environmentalists have threatened to sue the state if it permits fracking. Mr. Cuomo argues that a thorough environmental and health review will make the state’s eventual fracking rules more resistant to legal challenges. “Months or years of litigation may be avoided,” Mr. Cuomo said.

We are in no position to judge what combination of politics and legal judgment pushed New York toward this latest delay, and we’re all for making sure that fracking is safe. Fracking involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals deep underground to free trapped gas, and it should proceed with due care and proper regulation. The federal Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency have proposed some sensible rules.

But anti-fracking activists who hope delay begets delay and eventually prohibition are doing the environment no favor. Burning natural gas produces only about half the carbon emissions as burning coal, which produced 42 percent of America’s electricity in 2011. With the increasingly common use of fracking, natural gas prices have plummeted, encouraging a switch from coal to gas, and the country’s emissions trajectory has improved.

True, half the emissions does not mean no emissions. But the United States does not have to eliminate its carbon footprint all at once, nor should it. Doing so would cost far too much. Instead, natural gas can play a big role in transitioning to cleaner energy cheaply. A recent analysis from Resources for the Future, a think tank, shows that low, fracking-driven natural gas prices combined with efficiency measures and a serious carbon tax would result in a massive increase in the use of natural gas, nearly eliminating America’s coal dependence by 2035 and cutting emissions from the electricity sector by more than half. Renewable technologies, meanwhile, would have time to lower costs and address other hurdles to widespread deployment before picking up more of the load later in the century.

Environmentalists, in other words, should hope fracking is safe — and permitted

The Wall Street Journal

Cuomo's De-Fracking

New York's Governor favors rich greens over the upstate poor.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo fancies himself Presidential material, but he isn't helping his 2016 credentials with his pusillanimity on natural gas fracking.
 
A state moratorium has blocked hydraulic fracturing since 2010, but a four-year environmental review was supposed to pay off with new rules to allow drilling this November. The Cuomo Administration has instead announced it will restart the process, with more studies, more hearings and more years of delay.
 
Put another way, the man who would be President is ducking the premier energy debate of our time. Green elites have made fracking their bête noire, and they've more or less ordered Mr. Cuomo not to move ahead with drilling in even a few upstate counties. The Governor knows this would cost jobs and investment, so he's taken the brave stance of cueing the bureaucrats and deciding not to decide.
 
This is a giant loss for New York, which holds an estimated 20% of the reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation. A 2011 Manhattan Institute study estimates that the typical Marcellus well generates more than $5 million in economic benefits and $2 million in tax revenue. If fracking were allowed, the study notes New York would already be on its way to creating more than $11 billion in economic output and more than 15,000 jobs by 2020. That's already happening in neighboring Ohio and Pennsylvania.
 
The shale bonanza is also sparking a surge in manufacturing investment to exploit cheaper energy. Egypt's Orascom Construction announced last month it plans to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant in Iowa, while Dow Chemical in April announced a $1.7 billion ethylene production plant in Texas—all thanks to shale gas.
 
Upstate New York desperately needs this economic jump-start. The New York Department of Labor's September jobs statistics showed that the 52-county upstate region's private jobs growth rate over the past year was less than half (0.9%) the downstate rate (2.3%), and one-third of New York City's (2.9%). Yet Big Apple elites—and apparently Mr. Cuomo—prefer to keep upstate in pastoral poverty for their second homes and antique shops.
 
Mr. Cuomo says further study will produce better rules to ward off a legal challenge. Yet the Governor knows that the green left will sue to block anything he proposes, and the sooner that process begins, the sooner it ends. Our sources say Mr. Cuomo wants the political cover of a big investment commitment from a big gas driller. Yet New York's first draft regulations, issued earlier this year, were so stringent that many producers doubt they could turn a profit.
 
Mr. Cuomo could learn from former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat who understood that the economic benefit was worth taking grief from the left. Even President Obama is trying, for re-election purposes, to take credit for the natural gas boom he's had nothing to do with.
 
Mr. Cuomo has bent to the left on a big tax increase, caved to unions on education reform and pensions, and given cultural liberals their top priority of gay marriage. His fracking delay is a gift to the green lobby, which hopes to forestall drilling long enough to enable a second Obama Administration to complete a federal regulatory takeover that makes fracking far more costly and ends the boom. The question for Mr. Cuomo is what has he done for New York's economy?
 
If Mr. Cuomo wants to kill fracking, he should kill it. Otherwise, he owes it to his state to give it the opportunity to build a new future with the shale boom. That would at least give Mr. Cuomo the credibility to run as a Democratic jobs candidate in 2016. Right now he's the Democratic nothing candidate.

On Monday October 1, 2012, the JLCNY issued the press release attached below in response to the latest in latest in a four and a half year series of delays regarding Natural Gas devlopment in New York State.

We've Waited Long Enough" Radio Ads

We've Waited Long Enough" Print Ad

NYShale_OpenLetter

Landowners -- we have a victory to celebrate -- the two-year moratorium on natural gas development in the City of Binghamton has been invalidated -- or thrown out!  Congratulations to all!

The JLCNY is very pleased that the two-year moratorium on natural gas development in the City of Binghamton has been invalidated by Broome County Supreme Court Justice Ferris D. Lebous.The JLCNY extends congratulations to attorneys Rob Wedlake and Ken Kamlet who achieved this legal victory.

Judge Lebous said in his decision:

“However, the City cannot just invoke its police power solely as a means to satisfy certain segments of the community. Rather, the City must satisfy the well established legal requirements that show a dire emergency; that the moratorium is reasonably calculated to alleviate a crisis; and that they are taking steps to solve the problem.” He goes on to say: “In this case, there is no other conclusion that the Court can reach, however, that the Local Law 11-006, fails to meet the criteria for a properly enacted moratorium.” He added: “There can be no showing of a dire need since the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not yet published the new regulations that are required before any natural gas exploration or drilling can occur in this State.

”But one thing is clear, this is another stark reminder of the failure of our State leadership. Local governments should not be in this position to begin with, and we certainly know they have more important things to spend strained tax dollars on in the southern tier than lawsuits. Towns should not be passing moratoriums, especially before the release of the SGEIS.

It is time for Governor Cuomo to stand up for his constituents here, most of whom are struggling to keep their farms or their families in New York. Issue the clear guidelines now before the clock runs out on the regulatory review that the DEC has spent thousands of hours and four years to conduct.

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