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Gas industry ignores true costs of fracking

By now it’s common knowledge that the oil and gas industry exaggerates the economic benefits from shale gas drilling and does not take into consideration the real costs on the communities in which it drills. Economist Janette Barth often speaks of the costs that are ignored, which include health consequences and medical fees, decline in property values, replacement of contaminated water, road damage paid for by taxpayers, deterioration of other industries, such as tourism and agriculture, and additional costs to municipalities for increased needs in police, fire and first responders.

Gas and oil industry consulting firms seem to ignore the downsides of developing shale gas and instead exaggerate estimates and the upsides of welcoming fracking. But the jobs created by the gas industry are short-lived and the true impacts are left for communities to deal with.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has not done the necessary unbiased work to determine how much natural gas can be economically recoverable, based on benefits and costs to the state. A false jobs promise from the gas industry cannot be New York’s bottom line, especially when price volatility in natural gas over the years just makes it seem like even more of a bad choice for New York and when renewable energy is at our fingertips. Right now it is technologically possible for us to transition fully to renewables with less risks posed to us all. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo did away with fracking and committed to a plan to invest in renewable energy that focused on wind, water and solar energy, approximately 58,000 permanent jobs would be created annually for energy facilities alone. Let’s invest not only in New York’s energy future, but the future of our communities and health.

Sara Schultz

Executive Committee, Sierra Club

Niagara; Member, Amherst Against

Fracking, Williamsville