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Upstate NY Towns Want To Secede From State Over Fracking

If you can’t beat ‘em, leave ‘em. About 15 towns in Upstate New York want to secede from the state and become part of Pennsylvania. Why? So they can legally drill for natural gas.

Towns in New York’s Southern Tier, which borders Pennsylvania and sits atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale Formation, are unhappy with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state. So instead of fighting the fracking ban, these towns are pushing for secession.

“The Southern Tier is desolate,” Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch, told WBNG-TV. “We have no jobs and no income for anybody. And the richest resource we have is in the ground.”

Cuomo banned fracking last year over concerns the well stimulation technique would harm public health. The decision came despite fracking occurring just south of the border in Pennsylvania.

Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep underground to break up shale formations. There has so far been no evidence linking fracking to water contamination, despite environmentalist warnings.

Fracking for natural gas has, however, revitalized Pennsylvania’s economy and government finances. The New York Daily News reports that 229,000 jobs are linked to gas operations in Pennsylvania. Fracking has also generated about $2.2 billion in tax revenues and $800 million in fees in the last few years.

In 2011, New York estimated fracking would create 53,969 jobs and put $125 million in state coffers every year. Fracking would also fund local governments that have been hard hit by recession and rural depopulation. Now that’s not an option.

Southern Tier business owners want to secede because of the high taxes. John Gage, the owner of Reliable Market, told WBNG-TV he supported the idea of secession.

“The tax structure in New York is just horrible to do business in,” said Gage. “Whether it’s fracking, or other reasons to secede, it sounds like a good idea to me.”

But fracking may be in danger even in Pennsylvania. Newly elected Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf banned fracking in state parks and forests. Wolf has also vowed to put an extraction tax on gas drilling.

“We’re comparing the taxes in Pennsylvania compared to those in New York,” Finch added. “There’s a great, great difference. Right now, we are being deprived of work, jobs and incomes.”

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