Assemblyman Andy Goodell (R,C–Chautauqua) is strongly opposed to a job-killing natural gas-drilling moratorium that would affect thousands of jobs in Western New York, while hurting local consumers and landowners.
The proposed legislation would shut down all natural gas drilling operations in Western New York by banning all hydrofracking, a process where water and a small amount of chemicals are injected into gas wells under high pressure to fracture the underground rocks and release the natural gas. The process has been used safely in Western New York for conventional wells for over 60 years.
Recently, hydrofracking has been questioned in connection with the proposed deep horizontal wells in Marcellus Shale in central New York, and the DEC has refused to issue any drilling permits for those deep wells while it develops comprehensive new regulations.
“Ironically, the proposed moratorium would shut down all conventional drilling in Western New York where the hydrofracking has been used safely, without having any practical impact on the deep-well hydrofracking that already is prohibited by the DEC pending its environmental review,” noted Goodell.
The moratorium also would have a devastating impact on the Western New York economy. The DEC approved 577 drilling permits in 2007, 737 drilling permits in 2008, and 552 drilling permits in 2009. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency, 4,000- 5,000 people are employed in the natural gas industry in Western New York.
Over $100 million is invested in new gas wells in Western New York each year. The loss of this investment would have a ripple effect throughout the economy, affecting not only drillers and landowners but also local suppliers and contractors.
“Chautauqua County has over 5,000 active natural gas wells, more than any other area in New York,” said Goodell. “These gas wells provide free gas to local residents to heat their homes, as well as royalty income to landowners. In addition, several local schools, the Audubon, and even the Girl Scout facilities have been using the clean, natural gas from their own land to provide free heat. Royalties from these wells help keep taxes lower and help fund great programs,” said Goodell.
“Natural gas is an environmentally safe fuel that is an economic boon to Western New York’s economy. The continued development of this local resource will help keep local natural gas rates for all local residents and local businesses. The local gas industry should not be shut down over concerns unrelated to our local operations. We should rely on the environmental experts at the DEC, not legislators who do not understand the substantial differences between different types of gas well drilling operations across the State,” concluded Goodell.