As Grandmother and Activist my Message is Clear: “Energize Upstate Now”
The following remarks were delivered yesterday at a press conference in Binghamton, NY
My name is Chris Lacey. I am a housewife, a landowner, the grandmother of five and apparently, now, an activist. I believe with all my heart that the production of shale energy in New York State is our last, best hope to turn our economy around. I have spent the last three and half years going to EPA and DEC meetings, to rallies and economic council meetings. I have written letters, sent emails and called almost every politician in New York. I have written letters to the newspaper. I have stood in front of crowds, friendly and hostile and talked about the importance of promoting shale energy production in our state. This is important to me.
I moved to the Southern Tier in the 1970s. Things were booming here. I’ve lived here through the highs and lows, through ups and downs. I like the up times better. While upstate waits and waits for its chance to be an economic power, other areas are reaping the benefits of shale energy production. The shale energy boom has hit North Dakota big-time. They can’t find enough people to fill all the jobs. Unemployment in North Dakota is at3.4%. Taco John’s is paying $15 an hour. Williston, North Dakota has grown 15% in the last decade. People from North Dakota are now buying $1,000,000 vacation homes and investment properties in Arizona.
Of course, closer to home, we can sit on the sidelines and watch the growth in Pennsylvania. The state has had record job growth, thanks to shale energy. More than 72,000 jobs [have been created] since 2009. One company, working in Pa. is housing its workers in a hotel. They are paying that hotel $100,000 a month. A month! That is just one hotel and one company. When the manager of another hotel was asked how gas drilling was impacting their business, the manager said that normally they are closed this time of year. But now they are open, they are full and are building a new addition. One Upstate construction company was on the verge of closing its doors. But, when work came in Pennsylvania they sent workers across the state line to work and hired more employees to keep up with the demand. This enabled them to pay off their debt and they are now busy and making a profit. This is just one example. There are many, many more.
Everyone talks about jobs. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Well, shale energy jobs are real jobs. They bring money into a community from outside. That’s how you grow an economy. If you’re just passing money from neighbor to neighbor there is no economic growth. According to one study, just ending the moratorium would be a huge boost for the New York State economy, including $11.4 billion in economic output, $1.4 billion in tax revenues, some 15,000 to 18,000 jobs in the Southern Tier and western New York.
When it comes to creating jobs, Upstate New York is on its own. The federal government is not going to bail us out and neither is New York City. We have the only solution we need and it’s right below our feet. We must not let anyone steal our future, and our future is shale energy.