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Fracking Backers, Critics Converge Amid Report Limited Gas Drilling Will Be OK'd

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fracking (Gerry Dincher/flickr)

Supporters and opponents of a plan to allow limited fracking in New York’s Southern Tier converged in Albany on Thursday after a report that the governor will likely give the go-ahead to the controversial practice of natural gas drilling in select areas.

For months, the Cuomo Administration has been signaling it might permit fracking in some areas in the Marcellus Shale region. This week, the New York Times reported that senior environmental officials say they will very likely pursue that strategy.

Five town supervisors from the Southern Tier region whose communities are in favor of fracking came to the Capitol to say they are eager to get started. Those opposed also rallied at Cuomo’s offices.

Sandy Rogers, who is from Bradford in Steuben County, said the town of 700 with one gas station and one bar has deteriorated in recent decades and most residents are elderly on fixed incomes or on public assistance.  

“We’ve got to have something,” Rogers said.

She said many of the farmers in the community are struggling to stay afloat and pay property taxes. Many hold leases with the gas companies, and are eager to sell the gas that’s believed to be under their properties.

Jim Finch, town supervisor of Conklin, which borders the Southern Tier city of Binghamton, said his community has suffered from two devastating floods in recent years. Many of those affected are farmers.

“This is the only thing that’s going to save them from divvying up their farms or the acreage they have to keep surviving,” Finch said.

But John Armstrong, with Frack Action, says people in the drilling regions will see their water poisoned and risk getting sick.  

“We will not carve New York state up into a sacrificial zone in the Southern Tier,” Armstrong said. “That is not OK.”

Sioban Burke was born and raised in Steuben County and now lives near Albany. She strongly against the limited fracking going forward in her former home, and she says it won’t bring the economic relief that supporters hope for.

“The Southern Tier has been an economic sacrifice zone in New York for a very long time already,” Burke said. “And fracking is only going to make that situation worse.”

Last June, the Cuomo Administration appeared to put  approval of fracking on a fast track, moving ahead with an environmental impact statement and setting up a time line that could have led to permits by the end of 2011.

But in the months since, the process has slowed to a crawl. Public hearings were held, and the Department of Environmental Conservation has said for months that it is still examining the over 66,000 comments it received.

Finch, Conklin’s town supervisor, said the people in his community are running out of time. 

“If we don’t get it, we’re done,” Finch said. “Simple fact, we’re done.”

The Cuomo Administration is expected to publicly announce its plans for fracking in New York later this year.

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Comments [4]

wadea saad from SIDNEY VILLAGE , DELAWARE COUNTY N.Y.

people of the southern tier are looking forward to gain from their natural resources [ gas] , they are not being offered an economic alternative to their economic plight and yearly sacrifices , not being offered compensation for not drilling for gas , the nay sayers championed science , the DEC followed through and came up with the most prohibitive regulations in history and COUMO is proceeding carefully and communities that support the drilling , it behooves me to read some outsiders denying the economic benefits to those people in southern tier , they love to see them strugling financially , without any option and taking away their rights to the gas revenue , if this is not theft and userping someone else s rights in the name of mitigating risks which were mitigated already by the DEC. THEN IT IS PURE ENVY TO THE OWNER NEXT DOOR WHO NEEDS THE REVENUE , THE NAY SAYERS ARE COOCKED AND IT IS OVER , MAKE AN OFFER TO THE OWNERS AND PURSUADE THEM AWAY FROM THE GAS DRILLING OR SHUT UP

Jul. 14 2012 02:14 PM
Janis Aldins from Southern Tier NY

Claims from Southern Tier leaders that Fracking is the ONLY way to save their communities are in fact suicidal. The Susquehanna floods that have recently inundated these regions will ALWAYS be with us. These regions are frequently flooded because their rich agricultural lands are on a FLOOD PLAIN...duh

Now they claim that ONLY permitting gas drilling will SAVE them??? What is their proposal for when flooding inundates the drilling operations???? "Save us from the Poisonous pollution for everyone in the Susquehanna drainage basin!???"

Binghamton sits atop an aquifer that provides safe drinking water for millions of NY and PA residents. Why are we entertaining risking pollution of an entire region of clean environments that New York needs for all it's people and wildlife? Who wants to buy agricultural products from a polluted area? What tourists want to visit an industrial zone?
How will property owners be able to sell their polluted real estate?

We need state agricultural programs that can help rural communities and save the these environmentally clean regions as some of the most beautiful and scenic areas of our great Empire State. All of us in New York must to give aid to keep this region clean and beautiful - our urban regions cannot be sustained without them.

New Yorkers need to protect our wonderful water which is the most delicious, plentiful and cleanest in the Northeast. Our Southern Tier region supplies clean water for millions and millions and millions in New York and other Northeastern States. Water is New York's MOST VALUABLE resource. We can live without natural gas, we CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT CLEAN WATER.

Call or email the governor this morning. (518) 474-8390 http://www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php

Jun. 15 2012 08:49 AM
Peg Kennedy from Willseyville NY

I recently heard about Cuomo's plan to frack some regions (the poorest ones) of New York, and that NY citizens in populated and already polluted regions of New York are being protected while those in the most pristine and undeveloped are not. Fracking should be banned in the entire state.

As a resident of Willseyville NY, who has protected our 66 acres of pristine land for over 35 years, and as a small organic farmer, who feeds local residents (many elderly and poor) with food grown on our property, I cannot tolerate the idea of transforming our region from clean and rural to filthy, noisy and industrial.

Natural gas prices are currently at an all time low. I cannot see any valid reason for NY to allow fracking, even an economic one, since there will be little or no profit for local landowners and tax bases. Meanwhile, low income local residents will suffer and be displaced do to the inflation of rentals and real estate brought on by the influx of gas industry professionals from out of state (who will spend most of their incomes out of state).

Fracking is a boom/bust industry. After we locals are forced to pay more taxes to expand and repair our infrastructures and services for an out of state labor force, they will leave us bankrupt with no gas in the ground, an expensive infrastructure to maintain and a big industrial mess to clean up. Don't do this to us.

Ban Fracking and get with investing in renewable and sustainable energy resource development. THAT IS THE WAY OF THE FUTURE AND NEW YORKERS DESERVE TO LEAD THE WORLD IN THIS MASSIVE MODERN ENDEAVOR. These are the jobs we want and deserve.

It's not OK to protect some NY state residents, but throw the rest of us under "the drill.' I urge everyone to call their state reps and governor to ban fracking in all of New York.

Jun. 15 2012 07:16 AM
Alice Zinnes from Park Slope, Brooklyn

It is appalling that Gov. Cuomo is willing to sacrifice our poorest counties.

There will be contamination. According to Schlumberger, 5% of all fracked wells fail immediately, 20% fail in four years, 50% in 27 years. In fact, all boreholes eventually fail. Pouring layers of concrete correctly down one-mile is nearly impossible, but even if poured perfectly, eventually the steel pipe rusts, expands, and cracks the concrete casings. Also, eventually underground earth movements crack the concrete seals.
In Bradford County, PA, just south of NY's sacrificial zone, fracking has brought jobs to a few people, but has created many hardships for others. Since most frack jobs go to skilled migrants from out-of-state, most tax revenue and salaries leave the community. In fact, since these migrants can afford higher rents then can townspeople, locals are moving away, as demonstrated by the reduced numbers of children enrolled in schools. Also, a survey of town supervisors found that almost none saw increases in town tax revenues, and almost all found increases in service demands, for instance for police, emergency, and road repairs.

Instead of creating a boom & bust business that will desolate these already-poor communities after Cuomo has left office, Gov. Cuomo should initiate sustainable forms of energy production. He also should work towards a farm bill that guarantees farmers are paid more than the cost of producing our food, rather than less, as they are now. NY farmers can no longer pay their bills because national farm legislation encourages cheap farm products so big agribusiness can make a profit. Rather than fracking the farmers, we should create a new farm policy that actually lets farmers farm.

Jun. 15 2012 01:04 AM

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