New York Democrats who are asking Congress to supply them with what is widely described as a “coronavirus bailout” would be in a stronger economic and political position today if they took advantage of their state’s natural resources.
Unlike neighboring Pennsylvania, New York has banned the use of hydraulic fracturing that can be used to extract oil and natural gas deposits available within an underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale.
For this reason, New York residents have lost out on an energy production boom that would have enabled the state to produce more than enough natural gas to cover its own heating, electrical, and industrial needs.
In fact, New York has enough untapped resources to become an exporter of natural gas to other states.
The Institute for Energy Research, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., that advocates for free-market energy policies, has published some highly revealing figures that show how costly the ban on drilling has been in a state that is in desperate need of affordable, reliable energy.
The Marcellus Shale extends from New York through Pennsylvania and West Virginia and includes small parts of Maryland and Virginia.
But New York policymakers have effectively cut off 12 million acres from the Marcellus Shale that could be used to supply growing energy needs.
“Without hydraulic fracturing, New York produces less than one percent of the natural gas that it consumes,” the IER says.
Because of this wide disparity between what is produced and what is consumed, the state must import large quantities of natural gas from other states.
How does this make sense when there are ample supplies of natural gas within New York’s borders?
Here’s how IER describes the problem.
Using the natural gas prices from the Energy Information Administration for New York, the value of the natural gas consumed in 2018 was $10.77 billion, of which the majority, $10.67 billion, was imported from outside of New York at a value of $6.39 billion that was paid to the natural gas producers of another state.
That means that New Yorkers were forced to send over $6 billion out of their state to buy a widely-used product that has been banned from being produced at home. It also means fewer jobs, both directly and indirectly, and less tax revenue for the state and local governments.
Now that New York policymakers are beset with the economic fallout from COVID-19, they may want to rethink their anti-energy posture instead of lobbying for more taxpayer-funded bailouts.
With Congress passing three bills providing emergency funding in response to COVID-19, it’s fair to say the federal response has already been substantial.
Now is the time for New York to look inward at its own failed policies, starting with its ban on hydraulic fracturing. There’s nothing like a little outside pressure and blunt criticism to start that process.
Enter President Trump.
In the past few days, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have been involved in a highly publicized exchange with the president, who recently suggested on Twitter and in a media interview that Republicans should not be compelled to bail out blue states that have been “poorly run” and “mismanaged” by Democrats.
Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help? I am open to discussing anything, but just asking?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2020
Trump didn’t name names, but Cuomo and de Blasio have good reason to believe Trump was talking about them.
New York was saddled with a $6 billion budget gap long before it became the epicenter for the coronavirus, and it was Cuomo in December 2014 who decided to maintain a ban on fracking that had been in place under his predecessor.
The New York City mayor is also on record as someone who opposes natural gas development.
Whatever the merits might be of Trump’s critique of New York’s leadership, it’s evident that the anti-energy mindset that has taken hold of top elected officials has resulted in self-inflicted wounds.
They don’t have to travel far to discover how shortsighted and backward their ban on fracking has been.
In Pennsylvania, natural gas production totaled 6.2 trillion cubic feet in 2018, which is almost double of what it produced in 2013.
“Pennsylvania produces about one-fifth of the nation’s natural gas, making it the second-largest natural gas producer after Texas,” the IER says.
“Natural gas production has revitalized communities in the state, not only in production areas where new housing, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses have been established, but across the state due to a per-well impact fee that raised $1.7 billion for community projects, environmental programs, and public safety initiatives.”
In this economic crisis, New York political figures should pay less attention to Trump’s tweets and instead take a long, hard look at the untapped potential that sits within the Marcellus Shale.
Read more at Washington Examiner
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