Research & Commentary: Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State

Published September 28, 2011

On September 7, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its highly anticipated Revised Draft of the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program analyzing the environmental impacts of horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The 1,537-page report found the economic benefits will be significant and any negative environmental impacts can be mitigated.

The report states hydraulic fracturing would create 24,795 direct construction and production jobs under an average development scenario, with an additional 29,174 jobs created indirectly, in a state currently suffering high unemployment. At peak production and construction levels in Year 30, the total direct and indirect effects on employee earnings are projected to range from $621.9 million to $2.5 billion per year. The new jobs and production royalties will increase state and local tax revenue, far exceeding any increased demand for local services created by fracking.

The study goes to great lengths to identify legitimate environmental concerns and how those effects can be mitigated. Contrary to the prevailing anti-fracking narrative, the study found there will be no significant impacts from disposal of liquid wastes, groundwater contamination from the process itself, or the presence of naturally occurring radioactive material in cuttings and flowback. As to water use, the report noted that although there may be localized impacts under certain conditions, increased demand for fresh water would increase only 0.24 percent statewide.

Where environmental impacts were deemed to be significant, the report outlines specific and actionable mitigation measures to minimize or eliminate the risk. For example, where noise from the construction process could cause temporary problems, the operator must submit a mitigation plan that considers siting relative to occupied structures, timing of operations, and directional orientation of equipment to minimize inconvenience.

Public comment on the draft assessment will close on December 12, 2011. Comments can be submitted online here.

The following documents provide additional information about the safety and benefits of hydraulic fracturing.

Research & Commentary: Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking) of Natural Gas
Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James M. Taylor provides a primer on hydraulic fracturing, discussing the overstated environmental impact and providing a series of useful links to additional research on the topic.

The Economic Opportunities of Shale Energy Development
A study by the Manhattan Institute finds that a typical Marcellus shale gas well generates $4 million in economic benefits for every $14,000 in economic damage from environmental impacts. The study also qualifies the economic benefits of different development scenarios.

Drilling for Jobs: What the Marcellus Shale Could Mean for New York
The Public Policy Institute of New York State finds that allowing Marcellus shale development in a five-county area outside of the New York City watershed could create more than 62,000 new jobs. The report notes the economic benefits already being realized in Pennsylvania and encourages New York to responsibly develop its resources.

Science and the Reasonable Development of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Resources in Pennsylvania and New York
Practicing litigators analyze standard of proof and baseline groundwater monitoring in hydraulic fracturing litigation and its implications for determining the appropriate level of regulation.

Clashing Views on the Future of Natural Gas
New York Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane dissects Ian Urbina’s coverage of natural gas futures. Brisbane concludes, “the article went out on a limb, lacked an in-depth dissenting view in the text and should have made clear that shale gas had boomed.”

New York Voters Back Fracking, Despite Concerns, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds
An August poll found that even though New York residents are concerned about the environmental impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing, they are eager to reap the economic benefits. The Truth About Fracking
Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie interviews Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey about the environmental risks and economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing. Bailey says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is wrong to claim federal agencies that have allowed fracking have not adequately studied the issue.

For further information on this subject, visit the Environment & Climate News Web site at, The Heartland Institute’s Web site at, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database, at

Nothing in this message is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. If you have any questions about this issue or the Heartland Web site, you may contact Heartland energy and environment legislative specialist John Monaghan at [email protected] or 312/377-4000.