Moxie: Natural Gas Inventiveness Combined with Courage
Dr. Michael Morrongiello
Psychologist and Steuben County Landowner
While Pennsylvania grows jobs and lowers its energy costs by building new gas power plants, New York State sits on its hands with respect to natural gas development. It’s time for Governor Cuomo to show some moxie and save our Southern Tier economy.
Moxie means courage combined with inventiveness, which is what we need to revive our ailing upstate economy. This is just what Lycoming County, Pennsylvania is going to get. A company called Moxie Energy will invest $800 million to build a new power plant called Moxie Patriot to generate electricity powered by locally produced natural gas. The project will begin in March, 2013, and employ 200 to 500 construction workers. The total payroll for this endeavor is estimated at $40 million injected directly into the local economy.
When completed, Moxie Patriot (see rendering to right) will produce electricity to light 750,000 homes, employ 30 people in high-paying jobs and provide cheap, clean power. Why? Natural gas is cheaper when it’s local, and not shipped long distances. This puts money in the pocket of every electrical customer and makes job creation easier because businesses will have reduced energy costs. Also, natural gas burns cleaner than any other fossil fuel, resulting in a cleaner environment.
We’re losing jobs, in the Southern Tier of New York. Sikorski recently closed, taking with it 575 jobs, but those jobs aren’t the whole story. The Sikorski plant paid $815, 000 in property taxes, including $465,000 in school taxes to the Horseheads School District, $200,000 to Chemung County and $100,000 to the Town of Big Flats.
How do you replace all that tax revenue, and those jobs? Answer: in the weak upstate economy, it’s not likely. But it gets worse. In Steuben County, Philips Lighting closed its doors, saying goodbye to 280 jobs. Unemployment in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties now stands at an inexcusable 9.8%.
Because of gas drilling you could throw a rock and hit prosperity and hope in Pennsylvania; in New York the same rock hits unemployment and despair.
We need jobs right now. Natural gas development will provide those jobs. But we’ve been waiting more than four years. And, now we’re waiting on yet another study, this one by the New York State Department of Health – which already issued a report in February, 2012, declaring that “significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF” (high volume hydraulic fracturing).
Yet, there have been no reports of ill health in Jamestown, a town of about 31,000 people. Hydraulic fracturing has been going on in the Jamestown aquifer since at least the 1980’s.
Gov. Cuomo acted with blinding speed to pass an assault weapons ban; meanwhile, the study of hydraulic fracturing drags on into its fifth year. The Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation are slated to complete their work in February. It’s time, Governor Cuomo; show some moxie. Act for the people of upstate. Let’s begin developing our natural gas resources and our upstate economy.