Oil and Gas

Turn off Cuomo’s gas for fracking ban: Hofmeister

Oil technology's hope for the future

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has drawn either high praise or fierce criticism for banning fracking in the state.

John Hofmeister, founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy and former Shell Oil president, clearly falls into that second camp.

"The people in New York state will be suffering as a consequence because this is a sound business. It is a needed business," he told CNBC on Friday, two days after Cuomo hydraulic fracturing in the state. The decision—which the Democratic governor said was up to state's environmental commissioner—came after the release of a long-awaited report that said the oil and gas production process could pose health risks.

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"I don't know where the governor gets the heat for his mansion, but it probably comes from fossil fuel," Hofmeister said. "If he doesn't want to drill it in New York state, maybe we should just turn off the gas."

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

New York sits atop a part of the Marcellus shale, one of the largest natural gas deposits in the United States.

"What's really transformed the country is natural gas—not only for current usage but we could convert ... billions of cubic feet of natural gas to transportation fuel, which could be the end to oil imports," said Hofmeister, expressing frustration by the lack of movement on this front.

Turning to oil, which has been clobbered this year, he said the recent low prices won't last. "We're temporarily facing some punitive price levels right now ... because the world is headed for 100 million barrels a day of demand for oil. We're at 92 million roughly today."

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Hofmeister, who retired from Shell Oil in 2008, said the U.S. stands to benefit from that demand due to the increasing production capabilities domestically. "We're up 100 percent from when I was Shell Oil president. We've gone from 5 million barrels a day to almost 10 million barrels a day."

The industry, he continued, did it largely on technology. "These are technology companies more than they are energy companies because it's the technology that has freed up the opportunity to produce more domestic energy. And all that money churns internally in the U.S. economy."

He also knocked down the notion that recently low crude prices make the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline a moot point. "It makes utter nonsense in the scheme of things for the 'infrastructure president' to deny infrastructure because it happens to be oil infrastructure."

—Wire services contributed to this report.