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Fracking Big Upset: New York Residents Talk Secession

Fracking Big Upset: New York Residents Talk Secession

One could argue America was conceived from intense frustration that ultimately led to separation. Fed up with what they perceived as excessive control by the Crown, colonists to the “New England”, in essence, seceded in 1776, and thus the United States was born.

Now, there is a renewed and growing secession conversation brewing in the New England region, this time fueled by a commodity: Natural gas. Infuriated by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s December decision to permanently instill a ban against hydraulic fracture stimulation, or fracking, residents in 15 communities in the Southern Tier of New York are discussing the possibility of redrawing the border between New York and Pennsylvania.

Most affected are communities that lie along the east-west line between the Empire and Keystone states. Dairy farms dot the landscape, and in Pennsylvania, where fracking is encouraged, farmers are building new barns, buying new equipment and communities are adding schools and hospitals. In contrast, only a few miles to the north, farms that have been in families for generations lie dilapidated. Equipment is old, and there are few signs of construction. Related: New England Growing More Dependent On Natural Gas

Karen Moreau is the Executive Director of the New York State Petroleum Council and is passionate about the plight of these residents. “He (Governor Cuomo) wiped out the hopes, the dreams, the opportunity for economic salvation for thousands and thousands of struggling farm families, rural communities and others who have stood by, civilly waiting, expecting the government to do the right thing, to do the honest thing, and instead this is what they were given,” she said.

Moreau characterizes the stark difference on either side of the state line as “East Berlin and West Berlin,” citing added burdens of excessive property taxes and some of the most expensive natural gas in the country. “For a 200 acre dairy farm with a modest home and buildings that aren’t so great, the property taxes are $20,000 a year,” she says. “Even though they have all this natural gas in the ground, they really don’t have any infrastructure, so their energy costs are among the highest in the nation as well,” Moreau added, saying it’s not unusual for families to burn wood to provide heat.

Cuomo instilled the permanent ban on December 17, 2014 following comments by acting health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker who said, “I consider the people of the state of New York as my patients. We cannot afford to make a mistake. The potential risks are too great, in fact they are not fully known.” Related: Big Oil Going On The Offensive

A recent Quinnipiac University poll indicated most New York voters agree with the Governor’s decision by a 55-25 percent margin.

In a double-blow to Southern Tier residents, on the same day Cuomo instilled the permanent fracking ban, the state also shot down two applications for casinos in the region.

Although acknowledged as a long shot, state legislator, Republican Tom Libous of Binghamton, mailed a survey to his constituents asking if they were interested in secession. Realigning state lines would require coordinated efforts from both state legislatures and the federal government. Meanwhile, these New Yorkers will continue to look across the border and will observe continued economic prosperity through the years, realizing the only thing separating them are a few very long miles.

By Thomas Miller for Oilprice.com

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  • Ayres on March 09 2015 said:
    Isn't the announcement of no fracking by NY really a political statement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and not much more? NY really doesn't risk much oil production because of no fracking that say neighboring Pennsylvania would. So its safe to look politically correct, while not really risking any production. Ab.
  • kalendjay on March 09 2015 said:
    Absolutely wrong, Ayres. NY has deep shale in proportion to the population of west and central upstate as the deepest shale in PA is in proportion to the population of central PA. Both are very poor: Even the late Senator Moynihan noted that upstate NY received less federal welfare benefits in real terms per capita than Mississippi.

    The political system in Albany has relied for decades on siphoning off money from New York City. There is more gridlock in the State Senate and Assembly in NY than any other state you can think of, as upstaters try to cling to their conservative values, while NYC tries to bribe them in the other direction. With the City facing a minimum of $50 billion of mass transit improvements, and the same civil service woes that much worse off cities in the country face, how long can the rest of the state pension itself off? At some point, the region will effectively declare itself a ward of Washington, but Obama will not be around, and Boehner et all will exact IMF terms.

    I would say secession is a damned good proposition, and has taken longer to gather steam than the movement in California.
  • Martin H Katchen on March 09 2015 said:
    The advantage to supporters of secession: No chief executive, not either governor nor even the President can constitutionally veto this measure. Where it gets harder is that it would require approval by the New York State Senate which is Democratic but hamstrung by a Republican House and by both Houses of Congress, which would likely mean defeating a Senate filibuster and could open the floodgates to similar moves by other states to permanently and irevoccably change the political map to favour Republicans and give Republicans a fighting chance at the White House. Since New York is politically gridlocked and this measure would likely not appreciably affect New York's political clout (it might lose some Republican Congresspeople) but losing the Upstate Republican counties might make it possible for NY to be permanently "blue" and enact liberal policies, the Dems in the New York House might well be willing to let those Appalachian counties go to Pennsylvania. Especially since this measure in and of itself would not create any new "red states". It depends on how tired of gridlock at the state level New Yorkers are. At the federal level though, it would require the Senate to ban filibusters when discussing state boundary changes. A Republican majority could do this. But it's something of a "nuclear option".
  • maria on July 06 2015 said:
    This highly irresponsible technology is not safe. Far better to start getting on board with renewable, regenerative energy and what better place than NYS? It is on the same latitude as Southern France and gets loads of sun, not to mention the opportunity for hydro and wind power. People. we need to STOP destroying our land and natural resources. When all is said and done, you cannot eat (or drink! ) money! Talk to the folk in PA whose water and land is forever tainted by this toxic industry. Protect your land! It will be VERY valuable when all else FAILS.

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