Appalachian Basin

NY Democratic Primary Shows Waning Influence of ‘Ban Fracking’ Groups

The Democratic gubernatorial primary race in New York wrapped up earlier this week, with incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo beating out his opponent, Zephyr Teachout, by a 30 point margin.  That must have been a pretty big blow to anti-fracking activists Josh Fox, Mark Ruffalo and the folks at the Sierra Club, all of whom enthusiastically endorsed Teachout as the anti-fracking candidate.

Josh Fox even penned an op ed in support of Teachout, proclaiming that she is riding the “moral wave” against fracking:

“[Y]ou can either get on the right side of history or you can miss the boat and be left on the shores of the broken ignorant past. That tipping point has happened on fracking in New York—the people have called for a ban, the facts are clear, the science is clear and New York has moved to make history. We do not want our water fracked, we do not want our air fracked, we do not want our land and communities and our media and our climate and our public health fracked. And right now, importantly, we do not want our politics and our democracy fracked.

“Zephyr Teachout is riding a wave of moral outrage and scientific clarity on fracking and climate change that Andrew Cuomo has missed.”

Looks like that “wave” wasn’t quite as big as Josh Fox had hoped.  In fact, it goes to show just how marginalized the anti-fracking crowd has become.  Activists often claim that their movement is one of the largest in the country, with particular strength and influence in New York. But if the anti-fracking movement were as influential as the activists claim, wouldn’t they have come out in droves to support Teachout?  Instead, the candidate they were trying to unseat just captured over 60 percent of the vote.

Of course, Cuomo himself has done wonders for the anti-fracking movement, chiefly by delaying any decision on shale development and leaving upstate workers who need jobs to twist in the wind. But New Yorkers no longer want to be known for being 40th in business friendly rankings. Jobs have been leaving the state for years, and its borders have been closed to an industry that has the potential to bring thousands of family-sustaining jobs, a new tax base and cheaper energy for the eighth largest energy consuming state. Yes, that would be shale development. Heck, New York’s draft energy plan is calling for increased use of natural gas year over year – by 2035 it will make up 27 percent of all electricity generation in the state.

New York is already reaping the environmental benefits of shale development in the Marcellus: carbon emissions have dropped to levels seen in 1994, and residents of New York City are breathing the cleanest air in nearly 50 years. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is responsibly developing its resources and enjoying the economic growth that comes with it.

The “ban fracking” activists who did a full-court press to support Teachout apparently think that New York should be even more hostile to new investment and job growth. Of course, the activists also think their movement is powerful and growing, even though the voters in the New York Democratic primary just proved that’s not the case – even more evidence that the “ban fracking” movement, though effective at capturing headlines, remains on the fringe.

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