The North Dakota – New York Connection ?
When I think of being connected in New York, a flood of mental images; ranging from Marlon Brando in the The Godfather making an offer you can’t refuse to a steady stream of episodes from The Sopranos plays out in my mind. So what possibly could New York and rural, end of the earth (by a New Yorkers’ standards) North Dakota have in common? Nope, not a trick question !
The answer - hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking). But, that’s where the similarity ends. While North Dakota has embraced this prolific drilling technique; New York has feigned distaste, citing environmental concerns. In spite of record unemployment throughout the state (8.5% in March 2012) and a heavy consumption of energy downstate (4% of the US total), the Empire State has chosen to view fracking as controversial and has placed a moratorium on the technique within the state; leaving New York as a non-participant in the lucrative Marcellus Shale.
The Marcellus Shale, one of the largest shale regions in the United State is a rich resource for natural gas and it’s estimated to be the second largest natural gas find in the world. The geographic footprint of the Marcellus is significant; stretching across New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) estimates the formation’s total area to be around 95,000 square miles, ranging in depth from 4,000 to 8,000 feet. This translates to a 400 year old a shale formation believed to contain more than 410 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, having the potential to supply U.S. consumer energy needs for hundreds of years.
Technological advances in horizontal drilling, coupled with hydraulic fracturing have allowed energy companies to unlock the energy resources from the Marcellus Shale, while protecting drinking water sources and the environment. While some areas in the Marcellus Shale are currently in development, recent studies show increased access could create thousands of jobs and help stimulate the economy. A study by Timothy J. Considine, an economics professor at the University of Wyoming, shows increased access in the Marcellus Shale formation could create 280,000 jobs and produce over $6 billion in government revenue. Pennsylvania has chosen to harness this opportunity in the Marcellus and estimates that each well drilled within its borders generates:
- 62 jobs
- $2.8 million in direct economic benefits from gas company purchases
- $1.5 million from industry workers spending wages, or land owners spending royalties from lease payments
- $2 million in local, state, and federal tax revenue
…..and yet New York is not participating in it’s own economic recovery due to its stance on hydraulic fracturing.
Source: Manhattan Institute’s “The Economic Opportunities of Shale Energy Development”, June 2011
On the Flip Side:
The North Dakota Bakken Boom has had such a significant impact on the state, that the local Chamber of Commerce in the community of Williston, ND (population: who knows?…it grows daily) has had to automate its phone system because it can no longer respond to individual calls or emails. Just dial 701-577-6000 and select option #1.
While in this techie age, the voice generated, how many buttons do I have to push to get a live body is the norm…it hasn’t been the norm in Williston (the heart of the Bakken Boom) until recently. Continued economic woes through this country and a world class technology oil play in the western North Dakota has resulted in a mass flockin’ to the Bakken….in search of or the recapture of the American dream.
Your Chamber friendly voice informs, that “due to the influx of inquiries” the Williston Chamber can no longer respond individually or mail out information packets. Instead you are referred to their website for a list of job search contacts, but are warned of the general lack of housing (temporary or permanent).
Despite Obama campaign rhetoric of 2008 of “Change we can believe in” and the lemmings over the cliff (aka faithful followers) chanting “Yes We Can”, our nation’s anemic economic recovery continues. So having a place with too many jobs and too many full hotel rooms seems a bit unbelievable.
Could someone at the Williston Chamber of Commerce make an exception and mail relocation packets to some of the distressed citizens of upstate New York who have been on unemployment for 99 weeks? For in North Dakota with an unemployment rate of 3%, and an economy that is literally going through the roof, the slogan is “oil can!”