The fruits of fracking on display while Albany stalls

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Even as the state Assembly was voting yesterday to extend a moratorium on hydrofracking of gas shale deposits in upstate New York, new economic reports were showing the benefits of fracking in nearby states.

The evidence comes from the Federal Reserve’s latest survey of regional economic trends, better known as the Beige Book.*

The Fed’s Philadelphia district reported that manufacturing industry contacts “attributed some growth to rising demand from sectors related to autos, housing, Marcellus shale, and other energy production.”

In addition, the Philadelphia Fed reported: “In areas with Marcellus shale gas, several banks have described customers paying down loans with royalty money and avoiding further debt by paying cash. Beyond the gas fields, energy projects are attracting substantial investment interest and loan opportunities for larger banks. ”

The Cleveland Fed District, including Ohio counties with hydrofracking activities, reported that “shale gas activity expanded at a robust pace” since its last report in early January.  Shale producers have been expanding payrolls, to the extent that auto dealers in the eastern part of the district “are apprehensive about losing technicians to the shale gas industry, which may put upward pressure on wages.”

People paying off their debts? Employers expanding payrolls?  A shortage of skilled labor? These are things much of upstate New York can only dream of.

To be sure, as this report notes, the eight-times-a-year Beige Book report “is a snapshot of anecdotal economic trends with no hard numbers.”

But here are some harder numbers: the Southern Tier metro areas that sit atop the Marcellus Shale — Binghamton and Elimira — are losing private jobs, and neighboring regions are barely growing.

The bill passed by the Assembly would put off any decision on shale gas hydrofracking for two more years. Sen. David Carlucci of Rockland County, a member of the Senate’s Independent Democratic Coalition, has introduced his own moratorium bill.

But at the Cuomo administration’s current pace, why bother?

* Hat tip to Business Insider.

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- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.