Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Good Letter to THE LEADER

Mr. Ek: Your article on Fracking in the "Perspective" section in Sunday's paper missed the mark - I think! I seemed all the articles in that section were to deal with "economics". Your article on fracking did not "go there" at all. Mr. Santulli's statement - "I don't see any significant retail expansion happening until the gas industry reasserts itself…" - was more relevant to the economics of the issue than the total of your essay. My initial reaction to your essay would be 'why would Mr. Ek go political rather than economic here?' But then we both know the answer to that - I think! If you had wanted to discuss the possible economic effects of gas drilling in New York you could have found all the evidence you needed for an honest and objective report by simply looking at the experience of Pennsylvania and more recently Ohio. However, Pennsylvania is more accurate to relate to New York - more in line with an 'apples to apples' comparison than Ohio. (larger economic boon, but different shale). I would like to point out just a couple of interesting comparisons - by no means all of the positive points. Eliminating the overall wealth that would be created by drilling, let's look at just the job creation element. We all know that the industry (in line with the Bush-Cheney- Haliburtan conspiracy) cannot be trusted here- they insist that 74% of their hires are local. The Pa. Department of Labor puts that fiction to rest - they say that a mere 71% of the jobs are local! In addition the DOL (see 9/02/11 report) places the job creation rate for Pa. for 09,10, and 11, "core and ancillary" industries, at a mere 238,000! A related second economic point is where New York could be, or could have been, I once saw a map (see Jamie Johnson at IDA, Bath) that covered the Southern Tier of New York and the Northern Tier of Pa., and showed specifically the infrastructure of the two areas as they would relate to the gas industry. The comparison is absolutely amazing. The Southern Tier has Rt. 17 (as compared to Rt.6! ), much better railroad mileage, and all kinds of gas pipelines - much more than the Endless Mountains ( ie. the Northern Tier) of Pa. We know that the gas industry as of early 2008, wanted to come to N.Y. because of these infrastructure advantages. In fact, at least Chemung County has benefited from this line of thinking - up to now. We can certainly safely assume that they would have come here - except for the statewide moratorium. Let's be extremely conservative here and assume that only 25% of those jobs would have come to the Southern Tier. That equals 60,000 jobs in three years. These are good paying, full-time , year -round jobs. Not part-time, summer only, jobs related to tourism. I have asked this question several times at various public meetings over the recent years: 'Is there any industry, any economic operation or area of activity, that is capable of creating that kind of job openings in the Southern Tier?' Anything, including Corning Glass - even assuming they don't go to China with their latest large scale expansion?For some reason I have always gotten a look that falls somewhere between stark confusion and a deer-in-the-headlights look. ( I actually remember this look well from my teaching days: It was especially common when my students would read my questions for year end final essay questions!) This is really only the tip of the economic iceberg of advantages from drilling. The "economics" of this issue are, as far as I can see, all positive - as opposed to the would be, usually imaginative, environmental concerns. The proofs of the economic advantages are simple - look to Pennsylvania. It's really a shame that you chose not to do that for your article. Jeff Heller SCLOC

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