If You Don’t like Fracking, You Don’t Like Jobs

This canard is one of the most ridiculous and offensive myths pushed in public policy circles in recent memory.

Most New Yorkers recognize that being concerned about our environment, the quality of our water, and the health of our families does not equate to disdain for people having jobs. However, the fracking industry’s multi-million dollar propaganda machine has created a fear within the halls of state government for legislators afraid to look anti-job to their constituents.

Where would such absurdity come from? It’s simple, and what I will call fraxploitation.

The fracking industry has seen the economic challenges of Upstate and promised to ride in on a white horse to revolutionize life as we know it. The way these companies feed off of communities’ insecurity more closely resembles a bad high school romance than a serious public policy discussion.

The problem with their strategy from a public relations point of view is that Upstate has met that snake oil salesman before and no one is buying it. The problem with the strategy from a legislative point of view, however, is that it works.

Profiles in courage our state Senators are not.

Albany is where dysfunction has been redefined. And inaction on measures to protect our environment, families and communities in the Senate occurs for no other reason than the hysterical ramblings of a few self-interested legislators desperate to turn their farms and waterways over to an industry with an abhorrent record on safety or accountability.

The true economic benefits of fracking are much more dubious than the industry wants you to believe. Workers are often not local but bussed in from other states – when the gas is gone, so are they. Meanwhile, local communities are left holding the bag on an infrastructure that has been laid to waste by the industry, local property values drop by as much as 1/3 for regular property owners, and in the event of an accident in which people’s water or health is placed at risk, the economic responsibility falls on the backs of people in the community.

The façade of fracking’s economic boon is cracking. The industry’s own CEOs told the New York Times last fall they are literally losing their shirts because there is so much natural gas on the market today that it is selling at record low prices.

The bottom line is that the gas in the Marcellus Shale formed over millions of years. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. If the State makes a decision to frack before guaranteeing against all the potential calamities, they could be setting Upstate up for decades of economic distress. That’s what Senators should fear, not a few industry funded mailers falsely calling them anti-job.

Want to know more about this and other fracking issues? Visit the wonderful Katherine Nadeau's blog.