The Business Council opposes this legislation which would institute a separate series of work place standards for oil and gas worker and their contractors. Unfortunately, this legislation is not motivated exclusively by what is in the best interest of workers. This bill is just another bill intended to fit into the narrative of those that oppose the expansion of natural gas and oil drilling in New York. Make no mistake; although The Business Council opposes this legislation, the members of the business community are committed to the health and safety of their workforce.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the oil and natural gas industry is quite safe. According to the BLS data the oil and natural gas industry has an injury rate three times below the national rate. Health and safety impacts from natural gas production are not a foregone conclusion, vigilance, standards, and protocols, have and will continue to provide an ever safer workplace for oil and gas workers. The health and safety issues that have been documented in the oil and gas industry are very similar to other industries (traffic accidents, falls) and should be reviewed based upon the individual tasks (or specific occupation) not the industry sector.
Most troubling about this legislation is the effective mandate to hire only union laborers or apprentices. This section is highly troubling as it would have a devastating effect on the remaining New York State drilling operations. While much of the public focus has been on the drilling of substantial deep shale gas wells, New York has a long history of drilling smaller natural gas and oil wells. These wells have contributed significantly to the rural economy of the State. This labor mandate will effectively stop current drilling in New York.
Additionally, as raised by the Associated Builders and Contractors, this legislation may contravene the Federal Taft-Hartley Act, which expressly prohibits such mandates.
In conclusion this proposal would significantly reduce New York's full potential, delaying economic development opportunities, jobs and economic growth for many financially strapped communities. Natural gas production will yield extensive new job opportunities, provide increased state and local tax collections and boost local economies and provide long-term growth particularly to the Southern Tier, an area in desperate need of economic growth.
For these reasons the Business Council recommends against approval of S.3466/A.6220.