Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog Fight: Marcellus Shale Jobs

I just read a Jan 19 piece in the Capital Business Blog, a product of the Business Council of New York State, Inc, urging the State to press forward in the development of the Marcellus Shale. According to her bio on the website, the writer, Jennifer Levine, “has been able to contribute fact-based, accurate information to the public debate on gas drilling.” I, for one, would appreciate it if she would do that and not what she has done in this piece, which is dishonest. Business interests should come up with better arguments, anyway, than “You haven’t proved it’s not safe!” and “Jobs! Jobs!” in support of their cause. The piece is set forth below this post.

While a million wells have been “hydrofracked” around the country, the article asserts, “there has never been any evidence linking the process with well contamination.” Repeating statements like this, in the face of mounting evidence linking the two, won’t help them to become true. This is one of the mantras the DEC itself was repeating until Toxics Targeting got hold of its records which showed that water wells had been contaminated by gas drilling activity even in New York’s relatively innocent past . When the EPA identified 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE) in Pavilion, Wyoming drinking water recently, it noted that there was no other industry or activity besides gas drilling in the area to blame it on, See Scientific American article.  These are reasons to be cautious. Neither the Business Council nor any other proponent is entitled, as a condition of further delay in the Marcellus play, to conclusive scientific proof of a connecting link that has been supported by so many improbable coincidences, among them the contamination of water wells near a Cabot gas play in Dimock, Pennsylvania. Cool it, Business Council.

The article’s second leg of support is a misreading of a study report by its cited source, the Empire Center for New York State Policy, on an outward migration of State residents. The argument is that moving forward with gas drilling will help stop the exodus of tax-paying New Yorkers and keep jobs here. Yes, the report does say that 1.5 million people left the State in the period 2002 to 2008. It does not say, however, as urged in the article, that they left looking for better economic opportunities. The 1.5 million figure includes retirees who, safe to say, would not be prospects for gas-related employment if they had stayed. The breakdowns indicate that the exodus diminished somewhat over the period and otherwise don’t help Ms. Levine’s thesis. Some 60% of the destinations of those who left were the southern states, more commonly associated with warm weather than with industrial growth and job opportunity. An overwhelming majority of the 1.5 M people who left, left the New York City area, not one of the State’s more critical centers of unemployment. I would certainly question whether these urbanites and suburbanites, if they had been looking for work, would have been deterred from moving out of state by the prospect of relocating in mostly-rural upstate where the gas-related jobs will be.

So, this piece is pure invention, as phony and misleading, though not as clever, as the right wing’s invention of “death panels” to scuttle the Democrats’ health care programs. Both are about putting business freedoms to pursue the dollar above people’s health and safety.

The battle cry of “Jobs! Jobs!” has me baffled anyway. As I’ve said before, I want to hear more about the local job opportunities that are alleged to come with gas drilling. “Thousands of new jobs!”, I keep hearing. What kinds of industry jobs will go to locals rather than people who come with the operators? How many jobs will outlast the initial development phase of drilling operations? How many will consist of cleaning up the environmental messes, at governmental expense, after the drillers have gone? Maybe the Business Council can shed light on that.


Marcellus Shale: Still too early to start drilling? Really?
Written by Written by Jennifer K. Levine on January 19, 2010 – 6:36 am
The Times Union editorial 1/10/10 suggests that it is still too early to start drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale and wants the DEC to further study the effects of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Nevermind that over one million wells have been horizontally drilled and hydraulically fracked around the country and there has never been any evidence linking the process to well contamination.
The editorial further states that the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale isn’t going anywhere so what’s the rush? The natural gas may not be going anywhere but New Yorkers definitely are. According to the Empire Center for NYS Policy, between 2000 and 2008, 1.5 million New Yorkers left the state in search of better economic opportunities; the largest exodus of any state in the US. And drilling companies, especially the large ones with holdings around the world, will not wait forever for New York to finally allow permitting and drilling to begin when they can easily shift their resources to other shale plays in the US and around the world in China or India. In that case, New Yorkers will not only lose thousands of jobs but will also pay more to import natural gas from other states and countries where environmental regulations are far less strict than those proposed by the DEC.
How many thousands more New Yorkers will have to relocate in search of jobs while we continue to wait, study and review regulations that are already the strictest in the nation? We have an enormous opportunity to safely develop the vast home grown natural resource that lies under our feet but while the gas may remain there, the opportunity for New York to revitalize our nearly bankrupt economy will not.


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  2. Marcellus Shale did a lot of help specially when it comes to gas..they provide everything and they also help people who needs a job..

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