The Costs of Fracking: Environment New York Report Documents the Dollars Drained by Dirty Drilling

New report shows how fracking in NY would cost the public millions in damage to roads and bridges, healthcare costs, lost property value near drilling sites, and more
For Immediate Release

[Albany, NY] -- Firing a new salvo in the ongoing debate over the gas drilling practice known as fracking, Environment New York Research & Policy Center today released a report documenting a wide range of dollars and cents costs imposed by dirty drilling.  As documented in The Costs of Fracking, fracking creates millions of dollars of healthcare costs from air pollution, loss of property value near drilling sites, ruined roads and infrastructure, and contaminated property.  These costs are foisted upon local tax payers, property owners and municipalities.

The Costs of Fracking report comes as Governor Cuomo is weighing whether or not to allow the drilling practice in New York.  Worried about the risk fracking poses to water supplies, public health and the environment, more than 100 towns and municipalities have responded by establishing bans or moratoria on this gas drilling practice.

“Fracking’s environmental damage is bad enough, but it turns out that this dirty drilling imposes heavy dollar and cents costs as well,” said David VanLuven, Director of Environment New York.  “And that is all the more reason Governor Cuomo must keep New York free from fracking.”

If fracking begins in New York, the report asserts that our state would wind up dealing with millions of gallons of toxic wastewater.  If this wastewater is sent to sewage plants, the result could either be pollution of our rivers or costly plant upgrades for our cities and towns.  If the wastewater is injected deep into the ground, New York runs the risk of earthquakes. 

In addition to water cleanup costs, the report shows that fracking damage exacts other tolls on communities – from road repairs to health costs to emergency response.  The report includes the following examples of such costs:

  • Health:  in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region, air pollution from fracking operations impose health costs estimated at $9.8 million in one year.  In Texas’ Barnett Shale region, those costs reach $270,000 per day during the summer smog season.

  • Roads to Ruin:  with fracking operations requiring thousands of trips by trucks and heavy machinery, a Texas task force approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the Barnett Shale region.

  • Property Value:  a 2010 study in Texas concluded that houses valued at more than $250,000 and within 1,000 feet of a well site saw their values decrease by 3 to 14 percent.

Moreover, as with previous extractive booms, fracking will impose long-term costs as well.  As noted in the report, the coal boom in Appalachia left Pennsylvania with an estimated $5 billion cost for cleaning up acid mine drainage.

Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Region Director with Food & Water Watch stated "This great report shows us once again that fracking will damage New York's drinking water, roads, property values and more. Not only is fracking inherently unsafe, it also will cost New York's municipalities untold millions. In light of these costs and the significant risks fracking poses to the state's public health, environment, and economy, Governor Cuomo should call for a ban on fracking across the state."

"We have seen the disastrous consequences of hydrofracking in other states, with tainted water supplies and whole towns and regions blighted. That should be reason enough to give us pause, but today's report shows what many of us have suspected: allowing fracking in New York will open the door to mounting costs that we haven't fully accounted for and that our state and local governments probably can't afford," said Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), ranking Democratic member of the New York State Senate's Finance Committee.  

"The Costs of Fracking documents fracking's ugly bottom line, one that Governor Cuomo has tried to avoid,” said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director of Environmental Advocates of New York.  “In addition to the community costs documented in the report, Environmental Advocates of New York discovered that MetLife insurance company's homeowner insurance policies will not cover damages caused by fracking, leaving New Yorkers holding the bag when fracking damages personal property.  This makes me wonder, is New York prepared to pick up the tab for the gas industry's costs to our communities?  Is the state going to get into the insurance business to cover the documented risks of the Governor's proposed fracking plan?"

"The gas industry and many policymakers use fuzzy math to promote drilling--looking only at a limited number of short-term benefits while ignoring a wide range of long-term costs," says Nadia Steinzor of Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project. "This report documents all the reasons why communities and the environment are paying the price for irresponsible gas development."

“We already know about fracking’s damage to our environment and health.  These dollars and cents costs are one more reason to reject this dirty drilling practice, concluded VanLuven.  

Link to the full report: Here