Assemblyman Christopher Friend (R- Big Flats) yesterday spoke in opposition to legislation that would place a moratorium on issuing any new permits for gas or oil drilling using hydraulic fracturing. The legislation could potentially close 14,000 wells across the state and threatens thousands of jobs in an economy with over nine percent unemployment. The moratorium would last until June 1, 2012.
I opposed this legislation on the grounds that it is premature, said Friend. The States scientists employed at the DEC have until July 1 to release their findings, after which there will be another public comment period. This bill reflects the legislature's lack of confidence in its appointed officials to carry out their responsibilities. I have confidence in our DEC scientists to find out the facts about drilling so we as legislators can make an informed decision based on reality not hysteria.
This hasty legislation could not only cripple the current economy, it also could cause New York to miss an opportunity for economic development, said Friend. We are in grave need of an economic engine and cannot afford to miss opportunities. Eight hundred thousand people in New York are unemployed and struggling to find work. Our state has lost nearly a third of its manufacturing jobs leaving many places in New York without an industry to hang its hat on.
One such place is along the New York/Pennsylvania border. This area is rich with natural resources, but you wouldnt know it, as it is one of the most economically depressed areas in the state. You need only travel a few miles south across to see the positive impact hydraulic fracturing would have if it were allowed in New York State. What you will find there is a place flourishing with economic growth and new jobs. The statistics from Pennsylvania are impressive with the state boasting increased revenue of $3.7 billion and 44,000 new jobs. Those numbers are on top of the $389.1 million in state and local taxes generated from hydraulic fracturing operations in Pennsylvania.
There is not a public official who would knowingly jeopardize the safety of New Yorks environmental resources or its people, said Friend. An environmental tragedy is not something anyone wants. I believe we owe it to New Yorkers to find a safe solution now, not a year from now, to make hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling a safe and fruitful venture for the sake of our environment, our health, and our people.