Some New York town leaders feeling stung by their governor’s ban on fracking for gas are eying what they consider greener pastures south of the border.
As WBNG-TV in Binghamton reported last week, the Upstate New York Towns Association is researching what it would take for interested communities to secede from the frack-free Empire State to join Pennsylvania, where gas drillers recently finished yet another record year of production.
Jim Finch, supervisor in the Southern Tier town of Conklin, told the station the chronically depressed area could tap riches in the shale deep below, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t allow it.
“Right now, we are being deprived of work, jobs and incomes,” he said.
At least 15 unnamed towns are on board, the association said. They’ll just have to convince New York lawmakers, their counterparts in Harrisburg, and a federal government that hasn’t looked kindly on the word “secession” over the past 150 years.
Cuomo’s attitude toward natural gas development and the state’s fiscal policies make the idea worth pursuing, though, one proponent told the station.
“The tax structure in New York is just horrible to do business in,” said John Gage, owner of the Reliable Market in Conklin.
A conversation with Pennsylvania gas industry leaders might show these towns’ folk that the grass on this side of the border isn’t necessarily, well, you know… Gov. Tom Wolf this month proposed new taxes on gas production and invoked the New York ban as an alternative to his plan, though he said that was not threat.
Still, Lou D’Amico, head of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, called Wolf’s comments “tantamount to extortion.” Driller Huntley & Huntley last week told officials in Harmar it was re-evaluating its leasing plans based on the tax proposal and what it considers a ban threat from Wolf.
Low gas and oil prices, meanwhile, have producers dialing back on spending and telling communities they won’t be drilling there anytime soon.
Towns eager to secede to Pennsylvania might want to consider whether they would really succeed in getting wells drilled in their pastures.