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Rendell Urges New York to Embrace Fracking

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell urged New Yorkers -- and, by extension, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- to embrace high-volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in their state, adding that they have "the chance to play a major part in [the] revolution" of U.S. energy independence.

In an editorial Wednesday in the New York Daily News, Rendell said while he was governor of Pennsylvania from 2003 to 2011, he had a front row seat for watching his state develop its portions of the Marcellus and Utica shales.

"We're at an energy crossroads as a nation," he wrote. "If we choose to embrace natural gas, it will help us get past a number of significant economic and environmental challenges. On the other hand, if we let fear carry the day, we will squander another key moment to move forward together.

"Like with any energy resource, extracting and developing natural gas comes with some risk. But when that risk is well managed, natural gas results in great jobs for hardworking Americans, cleaner air, more affordable energy and more efficient use of our domestic energy resources."

Rendell added that New York "has a healthy band of vocal critics right now who continue to push a false choice: natural gas versus the environment. But as the former Democratic governor of a major natural gas-producing state, I know we can enjoy the benefits of gas production while also protecting the environment."

With the future of HVHF in New York in question, Cuomo has started to take a political beating from Republicans, most of whom support fracking for the jobs it would create. Fracking supporters and their GOP allies have also pointed out that while New York continues to debate the issue, Pennsylvania is reaping the economic benefits (see Shale Daily, March 20; Feb. 28).

"Pennsylvania put in place strong oversight while allowing development throughout the Marcellus Shale, and the economic benefits were significant," Rendell wrote. "Thousands of solid jobs with good salaries were created, communities came back to life and investment in the state soared.

"It is tremendously important that the economic benefits of energy production stay right here in America -- that they go to domestic companies, workers and landholders, rather than to places like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, which together account for a sizable percentage of all our imported oil."

Karen Moreau, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute, gave praise to the former governor's editorial.

"Gov. Rendell made a strong and confident argument as to why Governor Cuomo should lift the ban on hydraulic fracturing," Moreau said Wednesday. "During his time in office, Rendell saw the possibilities safe natural gas development could provide to struggling communities and took action. He brought the industry to Pennsylvania under strong oversight, keeping in mind the concerns of others while paying attention to the facts.

"Using his knowledge that natural gas development can be done safely and securely, Gov. Rendell helped to create thousands of reliable, well-paying jobs, revitalized a sluggish economy and put his state on a path to lasting success."

If New York decides to allow HVHF, development would likely occur in the Southern Tier, counties along on or near the Pennsylvania border. Last June, Cuomo administration officials hinted that HVHF could first be allowed in five Southern Tier counties -- Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Steuben and Tioga -- which overlie the Marcellus Shale (see Shale Daily, June 14, 2012). Cortland, Otsego and Tompkins counties are also believed to contain significant shale deposits.

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