Union Workers Rally To Support Natural Gas
Last week about 125 people gathered in Binghamton to attend a rally hosted by local labor union members. The rally featured several important speakers who articulated the many reasons why natural gas is so essential to the economy of the Southern Tier and the lives of union workers who reside there.
Southern Tier union workers rallied last week in Binghamton to send a message to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose repeated delays in approving natural gas development have frustrated so many. The speakers included not only union workers, but also elected representatives who support their cause. Every person who spoke talked about the need for jobs and income opportunities for upstate New York, but they also addressed the safety of natural gas development, making Cuomo’s choice abundantly clear if he’s truly focused on the needs of the Southern Tier. It’s not about choosing between the environment and energy development, as they see it, but, rather, a matter of allowing for both.
Laborers Local 785 is insisting Governor Cuomo lift the natural gas moratorium. Union representatives opened the meeting by noting how farmers and the business trade workers alike support natural gas development in the Southern Tier. All work hard and need the work locally to keep their dreams of community and individual economic prosperity alive. Marcellus Shale jobs are essential to the revitalization of the area. Listen and watch the opening remarks:
Senator Tom Libous was invited as a speaker and discussed his long-standing support of natural gas development. He emphasized how critical it was to create jobs to keep the upstate economy functioning. He talked about the hotels and the car dealerships in Binghamton and other local industries already benefitting from natural gas development across the border in various ways. He wants to bring all the benefits to New York and open New York for business.
He also talked about the folks who oppose natural gas. He criticized the attention-seeking celebrities and out-of-staters protesting natural gas development in New York. Libous told the crowd everyone is entitled to their opinion but he refuses to listen to the opinions of Hollywood or out-of-staters.
Next to speak was Broome County Executive Debbie Preston. Preston has been supportive of natural gas since 2008. Unsurprisingly, her main concern, too, is creating and keeping jobs in Broome County. She said she wants to bring 21st century jobs to Broome County and the energy industry is the engine of the United States economy and, therefore, the way to get it done. Preston brought with her some of the key facts from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and recited the contributions of natural gas development. Speaking rhetorically, she told Governor Cuomo “the time is now and we have to make this decision for the people of New York State.”
Assemblyman Cliff Crouch also spoke. He expressed how tired he is of waiting for this. “It is time to move forward,” he said. “We have studied this for years and it is safe.” Crouch noted he taken the time to reach out to officials in Pennsylvania and said he hadn’t found one situation where there was a serious incident.
Crouch also talked about livestock. He spoke with the man from Penn State who worked with a herd of cows which were quarantined for a year. He told Crouch there was an issue with one herd birthing, but the problem was not related to natural gas development. They knew this because they performed a necropsy on each organ in the body and not one of them had any traces of elements used in natural gas production.
Crouch, too, made some observations regarding the natural gas opposition. He said he always asks activists opposed to development to send him the information they have on natural gas and they invariably send him what they gleaned from makeshift documentaries, but never any solid scientific facts. When he asks them if they’ve been to Pennsylvania to investigate for themselves, they typically say they haven’t. Given our experience here at EID dealing with the opposition, that’s no surprise.
Steve Herz is a retired school teacher. He talked about the impact on the local school systems we would see in New York if the moratorium was lifted and natural gas development was allowed in New York State. New York State is now constantly cutting out school programs for lack of funds and students. Herz’s remarks hits home to me.
During my own high school years, we were continually on a contingency budget, meaning we had to raise every penny we used to support our local sports teams, clubs and activities. Herz hopes natural gas will help solve some of these problems and give the area a hand up, as do most of us in the Southern Tier.
There was also a representative from the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce. She mentioned how shale development will help their mission as an organization. She urged New York to move forward with natural gas development because she knows, from what she already sees, the positive impact it will have on all the businesses in the area.
Karen Moreau, from the New York Petroleum Council, spoke next. She addressed the plight of the farmers she had met since she began the struggle to bring natural gas development to New York. She also told the audience about her and her family’s past as mushroom farmers. Moreau talked about a day she went to Pennsylvania to meet with a Tioga County dairy farmer and what she learned. She, also, urged the Governor to move forward and supporters to keep up the fight for the economic development they need so desperately.
Senator Libous concluded the rally by, well, rallying the crowd of workers in support of natural gas.
The rally wrapped up with everyone in high spirits hoping the Governor gets their message and approves natural gas development in New York State now. It was clear the people who keep the state running like a well-oiled machine are the people who keep fighting to support natural gas because they recognize what it will do for them, their communities and the state.