New York’s recent decision to ban fracking is hardly seen as a big loss for the nation’s production of natural gas since scientists say New York’s available reserves in the sprawling Marcellus Shale are minuscule compared to what can be extracted in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“Even if the ban were lifted right now, I doubt you’d see very much activity,” said Penn State University geologist Terry Engelder, who has studied the Appalachian shales for decades. “The industry has committed so much capital in other states that they want to see that those investments are made good first.”
Engelder estimates there are 127 trillion cubic feet of viable natural gas. He figures New York has only about 16 trillion cubic feet of that. Factor in local zoning restrictions that would have put 63 percent of off limits, and the state’s available reserves drop to just 5 trillion cubic feet. That’s not even enough to meet the state’s needs for five years.