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Matt Damon’s anti-fracking flick “Promised Land” hits box offices today – just one day after a New York state Health Department report was leaked, which demonstrates that hydraulic fracturing (better known as “fracking”) can be done safely. Fracking has long faced opposition from environmentalists and Hollywood; however, as energy experts began drilling for facts, a growing body of research has emerged that shows when proper mitigation measures are taken, the drilling technique does not pose significant ecological threats.
According to the New York Times on January 3, 2013:
The state’s Health Department found in an analysis it prepared early last year that the much-debated drilling technology known as hydrofracking could be conducted safely in New York, according to a copy obtained by the New York Times from an expert who did not believe it should be kept secret….
The natural gas industry has aggressively sought to drill in the Marcellus Shale, a deep repository that runs through West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. The assessment obtained by The Times finds that fracking can be done safely within the regulatory system that the state has been developing for several years.
According to a 2011 U.S. Geological Survey, “The Marcellus Shale contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids.” Through fracking, these resources can be harvested, which could boost New York’s economy and help relieve the United States of its heavy reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
While New York regulations currently bar developers from using the fracking technique, its neighbor to the south, Pennsylvania, has capitalized on the opportunity. According to energy expert Daniel Yergin, “Shale gas has created hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last five years in the United States. It’s brought $1 billion of revenue into the state government of Pennsylvania.”
Despite Pennsylvania’s success, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is considered a 2016 presidential contender and thereby heavily influenced by the left-leaning Democratic base, has dragged his heals on the approval of fracking and closely guarded positive safety studies, like this one, from the public.
The New York Times explains:
The analysis and other health assessments have been closely guarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his administration as the governor weighs whether to approve fracking. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has long delayed making a decision [about whether to approve fracking], unnerved in part by strident opposition on his party’s left…. [T]he drilling industry, and landowners who have leased their land in [New York’s] Southern Tier, have grown increasingly frustrated with delays by the Cuomo administration to announce a final plan. State regulators have now been studying the issue of fracking for about four years.
Meanwhile, New York is currently facing a $2 billion budget deficit and 8.3 percent unemployment rate. As seen in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and other shale oil states, fracking can have a transformative impact on employment and the economy.
In regards to safety, when you drill for facts, experts continue to find that fracking can be done safely. Once again, we cannot let politics stand in the way of good regulatory policy.