Appalachian Basin

Debra Preston Has the Facts on Natural Gas!

Last Tuesday we went to Binghamton, New York to conduct an interview with Broome County Executive Debra Preston.  Preston keeps her office open to her constituents every Tuesday from 9 am to 11 am, so we were fortunate enough to get a chance to speak with her during her busy day!  It’s refreshing to speak with someone who has taken the time to learn about something so important to the Southern Tier as natural gas development.  Debra Preston not only has the facts down pat, but refuses to base her decisions regarding natural gas development on emotion – how about that!

Here is Preston in her own words:

For the record everyone needs to know I am in favor of safe natural gas development.

Debra Preston

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston

Preston was elected in November, 2011, which shows how Broome County feels about the issue. She ran openly supporting natural gas exploration throughout her campaign.

Contrast this with Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan.  We all remember his he visit to Dimock, Pennsylvania.  He was quick to mention a lawsuit in Dimock, but probably  never imagined he would be facing one against the City of Binghamton!  He has taken exactly the opposite strategy as Preston and is against natural gas exploration everywhere, even though his offices are heated with natural gas.

While Preston has been calmly citing facts he has resorted to making inflammatory statements about hydraulic fracturing that have no basis in fact as one can easily see in this video (3:00 to 4:45). In it he cites anecdotal evidence about nosebleeds that made someone’s house “look like a murder scene.”  The differences between Ryan and Preston are stark.  Here’s Preston again:

We want the gas companies to know the county is not closed down for business. I have an open door policy and I’m here to listen. I am not part of any coalition and have no land involved. I took this stance after doing the research and getting the facts on natural gas development.

Binghamton is, of course, just across the border from Pennsylvania.  It’s a bittersweet reality for residents because the people and businesses hoping to see natural gas development in New York suffer everyday trying to keep their standard of living.  Meanwhile, they can take a short ten minute drive and see a thriving community with relatively low debt across the border.  Fortunately, some are able to get jobs there but Preston knows Broome County needs the jobs locally to realize the full multiplier effects on the County’s economy.

Mayor Matt Ryan

Mayor Matt Ryan

Ryan seems content with the  city’s economy  as is and has closed Binghamton’s doors for natural gas business.  Preston favors natural gas exploration.  She mentions she has taken this stand even though it was difficult knowing she would have to face the opposition.

Preston clearly understands the adage “if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything” and operates that way while Ryan, has proven to be more of an anti-natural gas activist than a leader.

The voters of Broome County clearly side with Preston, who has taken very straightforward positions that sharply distinguish her approach to governing and economic development from that of the Mayor.  Here is more of what she had to say about the way she sees things and how her policies differ from the Mayor’s:

I have sent out letter to the gas companies and vendors just to say that just because the city is closed for business the county is open for business.

Some Broome County businesses, based on their specialties, have already benefited from natural gas development taking place across the border, but other businesses are struggling.  We asked Mrs. Preston what she felt natural gas development would do for businesses in Broome County.  Without hesitation, she responded very positively.

We will see stability and growth in local restaurants and businesses. Our housing market will go up, apartments will be rented and houses will be built. I think it will be good for our community. I know counties that have no debt because of this industry.

We asked Preston what natural gas exploration would mean to her constituents and again she answered this question directly.  She knows exactly how beneficial it can be to the people in Broome County, who can now barely pay their taxes, let alone have money to save.

We have a lot of talented people right here in Broome County. Its important to me that if this opens up that its opened up to these people. And, that they are given the opportunity for the jobs that this industry will create.

Preston also weighed in on the Constitution Pipeline which is slated to be running the I-88 Corridor.  She indicated her support for the pipeline.

We have to have a pipeline to move the gas. As long as its safe, not a health hazard and not going to harm our water, I am for it. You can develop here, but if there isn’t a way to move it, it really doesn’t matter.

Preston refuses to “close Broome County” to new industry and business opportunities.  She was elected in November openly stating she supports safe natural gas exploration. Broome County residents need the jobs and, given the opportunity, can reap the same benefits they see happening a stone’s throw away in Pennsylvania.

Hopefully, for Binghamton and its residents sake, the Mayor’s ban will be overturned, the city will again open for business and Broome County will enjoy an economic boom similar to its neighbors.  Given Debra Preston’s leadership, they just may.


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