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Eastern Fracking: Is New York the Next Pennsylvania?

The effects of natgas production on job creation are the subject of nearly constant analysis.

The industry group America’s Natural Gas Alliance, which supports fracking, predicts that fracking-related activity will surge by 60 percent by 2035, and will help to create more than 1.6 million new jobs. Most recently, an IHS study said fracking currently supports more than 1.7 million U.S. jobs, with that amount growing to a projected 3 million jobs by the end of the decade.

A 2011 report by the Public Policy Institute of New York State claimed that if the Empire State embraced fracking, 500 shale gas wells could sustain a mix of 62,000 new jobs—many of them in struggling areas of the state.

Clean air and water advocacy groups take issue with the rosy job creation estimates, stating that no amount of job creation can overcome the detrimental environmental effects.

(Read more: For economy, best of energy surge is yet to come: IHS)

“Natural gas producers have been running roughshod over communities across the country with their extraction and production activities for too long, resulting in contaminated water supplies, dangerous air pollution, destroyed streams, and devastated landscapes,” said the National Resources Defense Council, on its website. Last year, the NRDC also filed a friend of the court brief in support of a court case to maintain a ban on fracking in New York.

Even supporters voice some doubts about how big a jobs boost the state can get from fracking. Some analysts argue that the economic impact is relatively isolated, citing a dislocation effect that sees drilling workers live in areas other than where they work. That means the money they make may get spent elsewhere, rather than in the area where fracking actually takes place.

“In very local areas it will be a very big deal, but in the region or state as a whole it might be less of a big deal,” said Cornell’s Kay. Still, “in the short term there’s no question there are positives: there is money flowing into the community.”

—By CNBC’s Javier E. David.

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