Dr. Michael Morrongiello
Psychologist and Steuben County Landowner
The recent history of two counties, one in New York State and the other in Pennsylvania, tells us everything about fracking and the fracking difference.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the spring of hope in Bradford County, PA; it was the winter of despair in Steuben County, NY. These two beautiful, mostly rural counties, separated by only 21 miles, are economically worlds apart.
Taxes, regulations and the ban on gas development are killing Steuben County. A family of four would save $1,389 in yearly taxes by moving to Pennsylvania. Gas development has been an economic game-changer for Bradford County.
Unemployment in Steuben County is 6.6%; Bradford’s is 5.7%. Steuben’s median household income is $43, 867; in Bradford it’s almost $47,000. From 2006 to 2010, Bradford County’s tax revenues soared by 35%. Gas royalties paid to landowners from January 2008 to December 2012 total an astounding $386 million plus, and lifetime royalty payments are projected to be $4.3 billion. This massive investment was an economic jump-start, electrifying the Bradford County economy. Landowners don’t stuff their money into mattresses; they buy new vehicles, improve their homes and buy new farm equipment.
For many family farms, gas development has enabled them to survive and continue the noble work of feeding their community and the nation.
Bradford County saw an increase of 1,383 jobs from 2007 to 2012. Bringing one well on line requires 420 people in different occupations: welders, laborers, office workers and truck drivers, regular folks all, just looking for a chance to succeed. The average pay for gas industry workers is $90, 000; for ancillary employees, $47,000. Between 2010 and 2014 six new hotel projects in Bradford County employed carpenters, bricklayers, laborers, electricians and plumbers.
What about Steuben County? “Start Up New York” has cost $53 million and has produced 76 jobs across New York State. The Regional Economic Development Council has recycled $303 million dollars of our money across the entire southern tier and has produced absolutely nothing. If Governor Cuomo wanted to see the grim results of a command and control statist economy he needn’t have gone to Cuba – he could have come to Steuben County.
Governor Cuomo fumbled a golden opportunity to revive upstate; it’s not rocket science. Just look across the border and do what they do. But he banned gas development based on phony future health risks. He’s really looking after his political future, not our future. Cuomo’s decision is an epic blunder that will become a case study in executive management books and training courses on what NOT to do. Recently the EPA, staffed with Obama greenies, has again said that gas development has no widespread impact on drinking water. Wouldn’t it be great if our governor green-lighted gas development in New York to rescue Steuben County from slow economic death.