As a resident in the area activists call the “frack zone” or “sacrifice area” nothing makes me more angry than what Governor Cuomo is doing to New York with his indecisive leadership which I hope the whole country will remember should he make a run for the oval office in 2016. I’m from Chenango County and I am an avid supporter of natural gas development and urging Governor Cuomo to pass natural gas now!
Here in Upstate New York, mostly in the Southern Tier, we have been losing jobs by the thousands since the early 1980. We have seen many businesses close and jump ship. There are dozens but to name a few, IBM in Endicott (11,000 jobs), Buckbe Myers (2,000 jobs), Singer Link (5,000 jobs with more than half being high paid engineers), Singer Sewing (700 jobs moved to Mexico), Krohler Furniture and EJ-Shoes. In fact, the trend has been happening for so long its hard to think any business would even want to move into the area.
The only business currently thriving in Broome County, New York is SUNY Binghamton; everything else is strip malls and fast food joints leaving our children with only one option when they finish school, leave New York to find a job in whatever field they studied. We push kids to continue their education by attending college only to build their skills and let them leave to other states across the country.
Every time Governor Cuomo delays the release of natural gas regulations he empowers the activist, making them think they have more control over the decision, and he leaves landowners feeling defeated by the broken promises that line up like the Southern Tier poor at food banks.
I ask myself and I ask Governor Cuomo this question, “Why in the 5 1/2 years that the brown water jug that has made so many trips to Albany has outspoken activist and legislator Barbara Lifton, not confiscated the jug of brown water, to test and confirm there are hydraulic fracturing materials in it? Why hasn’t anybody taken that brown water jug stage prop from actor Mark Ruffalo in the name of knowledge and tested it? Why?” It was right there in Albany held high for all to see and it should have been taken to test.
Well, the Environmental Protection Agency did test the source of brown water in that jug, right from Craig and Julie Saunter’s home. The Sautner’s, for those who don’t know, are a couple living in Dimock, PA. who sued Cabot Oil and Gas for $5 million. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that Dimock, Pennsylvania water was safe to drink, including the infamous Sautner well. Why is that you ask? Because there were no traces of contamination from natural gas development.
Which leads to another question. How much are these delays costing New York and New Yorkers? Besides the hundreds of millions in lost tax revenue and tens of thousands of lost jobs, there is a sad, personal loss that many do not consider. Every time Governor Cuomo fails to release the regulations the decision affects thousands in the Southern Tier. Two of my friends have died from heart attacks caused, in part, by the stress of Governor Cuomo’s indecisiveness. One friend was returning from a pro-gas rally in Albany, the other just hours after a heated meeting in Sidney, New York. Another good friend is losing their home and farm because they can’t pay New York taxes any longer after her husband became ill.
I too am in financial trouble not yet coming up with the tax money for my home as I only make $21,000 a year after losing my job when IBM closed in Endicott, New York. Before losing that job I made $58,000 a year. However, without job times are tough as high property taxes and other necessities often drain my resources leaving little to spare. For example, my property taxes are $6,000, my 2008 truck costs me $3,000 a year and my mortgage is $4,800. After doing the math you can see I have roughly $7,200 a year to live on.
Of course, you’d never know that from listening to the opposition. They often refers to us as “greedy landowners” who don’t care about anything but an easy buck. As you can see from my story, often times nothing is further from the truth. Many of us are fifth generation land owners who just happen to live in the highest taxed state in the country. We see natural gas development as an opportunity to keep our farms for the next 5 generations. Our land could give back to us what New York State taxes are taking away.
Governor Cuomo: Read this and know that your decision will be responsible for the improved or reduced livelihoods of thousands of Upstate New Yorkers who see how natural gas development has improved the lives of their neighbors in Pennsylvania. Interestingly, its done exactly that, transformed livelihoods for the better without the gloom and doom the anti-development community in New York has forecasted.