Andrew Cuomo finds himself between a rock and a hard place — because that rock is filled with several trillion cubic feet of lucrative natural gas. The first-term New York governor has made himself a target for both left and right by delaying (and delaying, and delaying) a decision on whether the natural-gas-extraction technique known as “fracking” will be allowed within the state’s borders.
Twenty-eight New York counties sit atop the Marcellus Shale, a natural-gas-bearing subterranean rock formation that also stretches across parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Geologists estimate that the entire region contains 489 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Given that a third of the Shale’s 55,000 square miles is in New York, the Empire State has access to a sizeable portion of that — certainly enough to supply much of its own in-state natural gas demand: a mere 1.1 trillion cubic feet each year. And, in addition to this embarrassment of riches, one thousand feet below the Marcellus Shale is the Utica Shale, which stretches even farther. How much natural gas is there is anyone’s guess, but it’s also a number in the trillions.