Landowners to Cuomo: Five Years Is Long Enough
Yesterday, the Joint Landowner Coalition of New York (JLCNY) put together a press conference in Binghamton, N.Y., in response to the unceremonious, five-year anniversary of the state’s effective moratorium on responsible shale gas development. This certainly isn’t something to celebrate, but more than 100 people showed up to express their opinions on the moratorium and New York’s lack of direction and leadership.
For the last five years, thousands of Southern Tier families have had to watch their farms and communities deteriorate while Governor Andrew “Hamlet on the Hudson” Cuomo has played politics with their livelihoods. Everyone in support of natural gas has to sit and watch people across the state line in Pennsylvania exercise their rights as mineral owners, while New Yorkers pay taxes on property they can’t develop. They’ve also watched as some of their neighbors leave New York for Pennsylvania to find jobs in an industry about which Governor Cuomo can’t seem to make up his mind.
Make no mistake: these folks could drive ten minutes down the road, cross the border, and see their neighbors profiting from natural gas development that could just as easily be bolstering the Southern Tier as well. It’s not fair, it’s not logical and it’s a public rip-off – all for the sake of pleasing a very small political constituency that it isn’t interested in the welfare of upstate.
Many landowners are frustrated, but many political leaders in the Southern Tier are standing with them in supporting natural gas development. Several spoke and dozens were in the audience yesterday.
JLCNY attorney Scott Kurkoski opened the meeting by discussing what natural gas really means for New York, and how he can’t fathom how Governor Cuomo is not supporting its responsible development. He told the audience every other state in the country with shale gas has jumped on board and developed their regulations to address public concerns. Watch his whole presentation below:
The first elected official to speak was the Broome County Executive, Debbie Preston, who has consistently supported natural gas development. She has attended several events and is very knowledgeable on the subject. She indicated she is standing behind the people of Broome County, adding, “now is the time… we won’t be silent and we won’t stop fighting for our rights!”
The next to speak was Senator Thomas O’Mara, who represents the 58th district that covers much of the Southern Tier. He asked Governor Cuomo to let the science decide (that is, the real stuff; not Gasland) and say it’s time for the politics to end. He understands property owners have an interest in protecting their land and will not do anything to put their future in jeopardy. O’Mara also pointed out he has heard several times the final studies will be out “in a few weeks” – he said he heard it last in January, far more than a few weeks ago. He reiterated Preston’s “the time is now” message.
Assemblyman Cliff Crouch spoke next. Crouch has been outspoken in his support for natural gas development for a long time. He has visited natural gas companies in New York and Pennsylvania and knows the subject, noting that when he has questions pertaining to natural gas he gets on the phone and calls people to get the answers. He called out to Governor Cuomo to “get off the fence” and urged him to act on natural gas now, proclaiming that five years was far too long to wait.
The fourth official to speak was Assemblyman Chris Friend. He talked about the jobs available with the natural gas industry and how many people living in the bordering counties see the prosperity and jobs but cannot benefit from any of it directly.
The final speaker was the Supervisor of the Town of Conklin, Jim Finch. He spoke about taxes and compared some towns with his own. He talked about the school taxes rising 7.1 percent, even while everyone peered across the border to see new cars, new siding, home additions and prosperity.
The press conference turned out around 100 supporters and they delivered a collective message to Cuomo to get off his duff and act. They noted the science is already proven many times over and told the Governor it’s time. Is he listening? Does he care?
As we’ve been saying for the past half-decade, I guess time will tell.