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Parts of NY Looking to Secede Due to Fracking Ban

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Land owners and energy businesses who were hoping to make money through hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York State were recently crushed when NY Governor Andrew Cuomo announced its banishment.

Until recently, there was hope that New York would jump into this new energy opportunity, much like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia have. Despite a five-year moratorium in the state, landowners in New York were anticipating good news from Cuomo’s administration. However, the ban cited environmental concerns and effectively squashed the aspirations of those hoping to make use of their property rights.

Now, those alienated by the decision are trying every avenue to get in on the money-making machine known as fracking. Several New York towns located in the southern portion of the state are contemplating seceding from their native state with the hopes of an adoption from their neighbor to the south, Pennsylvania. The Washington Post reports that these towns, slighted by Cuomo’s seemingly politically motivated decision, feel that joining another state is the only way to capitalize on the abundant supply of natural gas located beneath their properties. These sit atop the Marcellus Shale, a geological formation rich in fossil fuels that extends over several eastern states, including New York.

Citing high property taxes and a lack of jobs in that part of New York, towns from Broome, Delaware, Tioga, and Sullivan counties are ratcheting up efforts to become the first area of the state to secede since the 18th century, when a large part broke off to become Vermont. Conklin, a town near Binghamton, is one of the locales looking to leave. Town Supervisor James Finch told TV station WBNG,

The Southern Tier is desolate. We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground.

Their hope is that secession will allow them to receive the same benefits that fracking has given to towns in Pennsylvania. The Buffalo News recently published a three-part series on fracking and how it has affected Pennsylvania, both positively and negatively. The image below shows the immense economic disparity between border towns in Pennsylvania and New York.

Courtesy of The Buffalo News

For economically repressed towns in New York where job creation is laughable, this is ample reason to want to secede. Secession won’t be easy, however, and is actually very unlikely. The economic feasibility of such a move, including tax rates and cost of living in Pennsylvania, is one of the main sticking points. Additionally, the need to receive approval from lawmakers in both states and from Congress makes this venture a long shot.

Since December, when Cuomo decided to ban fracking, his administration has attempted to stimulate the economies of these areas with investments in clean energy, grants for agriculture, and expansion in the wood products industry. However, citizens and governments in these towns feel this is not enough. These initiatives may end up being big money producers in the long run, but residents see fracking as an instant boon to their economies. Watching their neighbors in Pennsylvania reap so much success in recent years is aggravating for New Yorkers to know they cannot be part of it.

Whether you are a fracking advocate or opponent, most would agree that this is indeed a sad realization of the plight of rural land owners. I hardly suspect that these people are adamantly pro-fracking, and instead are simply desperate for an equal shot at survival.

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