Appalachian Basin

Southern Tier Treatment as Sacrifice Zone Leads to Secession Petition

Frustrations over the delay on natural gas development in New York have reached a new high recently with some upstate residents in the “sacrifice zone” signing a petition to secede from the state and become a part of Pennsylvania.

It is no secret the landowners in New York are frustrated with the delay in their government making a decision on whether or not to develop natural gas , and they’re eager to find out if an announcement will be made tomorrow. Some, it appears, are outright fed up with the whole situation–enough so to start a secession petition to have the “sacrifice zone” become a part of Pennsylvania.

The message on the petition reads as follows:

The Southern Tier of New York State has been treated as a sacrifice zone by those other New Yorkers who would restrict us from developing our natural gas resources and revitalizing our economy. Those resources are ours and we are entitled to use them to save our farms, our families and our future. We, therefore, as residents of Broome, Chenango, Chemung, Delaware, Steuben and Tioga Counties, petition the legislature for the rights of Southern Tier counties to secede from the State of New York and join with the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania to be part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I don’t know if the move to join the Twin Tiers under Pennsylvania’s government is legal, whether it’s politically practical, whether it’s got much support or whether the whole thing is a tongue in cheek way to get Governor Cuomo’s attention. What I do know is that it reflects the extreme frustration, of some upstate New Yorkers, with the state’s lack of attention to their interests and needs.

We have heard from some landowners who have signed the petition who shared  their rationale for signing the petition. Their thoughts are below.

Bryant LaTourette:

I received an email from a friend Cris Pasto. Cris stated this is wrong our land rights are being held hostage. If New York state does not want us and the antis’ are calling the five counties a sacrifice zone, maybe it is time we give them what they want. Take the sacrifice zone out of New York and join the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania! Move the dotted line! Cris stated we need petitions to show whoever is listening that the landowners have had it. We hold the keys to help clean up New York state’s air and dependency on traditional imported fuel sources!

We the landowners of the five counties in New York bordering Pennsylvania are the “Golden Goose.” We are being treated as if we did something wrong! And its sinful to exercise our deeded right. We hold the keys to turning around the Southern Tier of New York without competitive welfare in the way of grants and subsidies. Pennsylvania has its act together and our youth have moved there for work. So why not become part of a state that employs our youth, welcomes progress, and respects land rights? States often bid for industry and business to move to their area, spending millions on advertising and giving billions in tax abatement and subsidies.

Why not attract border counties to become part of a state the same way? We do not ask for abatement nor subsidies. We ask only for the respect we deserve!

And so the petition was born. We contacted folks at a little known website called The site is run by three anonymous landowners–common folk just sharing information–true grass roots. The name, I understand, came about the same way as the statement “sacrifice zone”. Those opposed to harvesting natural gas called those in the sacrifice zone that had land “greedy,” thus was born.

Susan Dorsey:

Our politicians have proven themselves to be coddling the segment of our society who distrust the gas industry.

The trouble is that, upon questioning, this same group of misfits distrusts the government, the military, the pharmaceutical industry, the tobacco industry, the fashion industry, the banking industry, the health care industry, the insurance industry – in short they distrust almost any state-of-the-art human endeavor.  They will not be appeased until we have a complete anarchistic “do-over”, with explanations and diagrams that they are able to comprehend at each step along the way from hunter gatherers to our present society.  They reject the science because they don’t know the back story of how we arrived here as a civilization.

We have been patient.

We do not concede that permitting needed to be stopped while more stringent regulations were promulgated.

We do not concede that gas development is an industrial land use, but rather is a construction project that contributes long after the temporary upheaval.

We do not believe that the suspension of our right to develop our own property as we see fit should continue while other aspects of ownership such as mortgages, property taxes, bankruptcies and foreclosures have not been likewise suspended.

We have been shown no proof of threat or harm that stands up to scrutiny. None.

We cannot afford the luxury of waiting until every last lay person grasps the concept of the state of the art and best practices.  New York leaves us no choice but to look elsewhere if we are to survive.

Cris Pasto:

We are tired of the influence New York City has over the entire state.  Brain damaged animals from that concrete sewer dictate our direction.

We are tired of being told we need them to survive.  We have shale gas – we will be just fine without them.

I’m good with statehood or Pennsylvania annexation, just get me away from Ithaca and New York City.

Victor Furman:

The time has come for truth to prevail in the this debate. Cuomo needs to step up and lead the people on the side of right because when natural gas development starts and all the accusations made by the naysayers against it fail to happen, his popularity will certainly rise in all states as he says “We went with the science.”

As a Pennsylvania resident, in a county and township where Marcellus Shale development has been occurring for years while improving the economic outlook of our community, it amazes me to think about what is occurring in New York. I knew landowners were frustrated but I had no idea that frustration had reached such a boiling point. That said, I can understand this frustration as each development seems to bring another delay.  Adding to this frustration is the fact that hard working men and women – the same men and women that have supported the Southern Tier’s economy for decades – are being denied the fundamental right to develop the properties they legally own. I suppose it’s this frustration that has led these residents to want to separate from the state they have called home for generations. For these folks, the ones who work hard every day to make ends meet, I hope a clear resolution is forthcoming.


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