Landowners rally in downtown Binghamton

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Binghamton (WIVT) – Hundreds of landowners rallied in downtown Binghamton late Monday afternoon.

Many of them are members of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which supports fracking.

They say Governor Cuomo is stealing their ability to develop their mineral rights on their lands.

Late last month, the state’s departments of health and environmental conservation announced that they’re not convinced that fracking can be done safely and as a result the process should not be done in New York State.

Governor Cuomo was at the cabinet meeting when the announcement was made, but claims that he didn’t have a say in the decision, because he’s leaving it up to the experts.

The landowners coalition believes Cuomo is against the gas drilling process for political reasons.

They met at the Holiday Inn Arena and say the entire area is being hurt financially by not allowing fracking.

“The biggest message is that we don’t want junk science. This report that came out, the Zucker report, is junk science. We’ve gone through it and looked at it. He promised us it would be based on good science and we really expected that. And, it is not,” said Dan Fitzsimmons, the President of the JLCNY.

Fitzsimmons said the group will continue to push for natural gas development.

He said if the governor doesn’t want to use water for hydro-fracking, then gas, nitrogen or CO-2 can be used instead.

Fitzsimmons also said the JLCNY will be curious as to the final wording of documents relating to the decision not to move ahead with fracking, including whether there is a continued moratorium or actual ban.

The wording on that could determine what kind of legal options landowners have.

The full statement from the JLCNY reads:

On Monday January 5, 2015, over 600 landowners, farmers, organized labor, business and federal, state and local political leaders rallied to protest Governor Cuomo’s decision to ban hydraulic fracturing.

Political leaders speaking at the rally where Senator Tom O’Mara, Assemblyman Cliff Crouch, Assemblyman Chris Friend and Broome County Executive Debbie Preston together with representatives speaking for Senator Tom Libous, U.S. Congressman Tom Reed and US Congressman Richard Hanna. They were joined by landowners, farmers and representatives from labor.

Many of the speakers cited recent comments by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell who said bans on hydraulic fracturing in certain counties and in states like New York are “the wrong way to go” and “I think that localized efforts or statewide efforts in many cases don’t understand the science behind it.”

Those is attendance cheered when Joe Sempolinski, speaking for U.S. Congressman Tom Reed, said that Representative Reed will ask the federal government to require New York to compensate landowners for taking their property rights.

Senator Tom Libous said in a statement: “Natural gas development is one of our last hopes for creating real jobs in the Southern Tier. Banning this process is the easy way out rather than standing up to those who spread fear.”

U.S. Congressman Richard Hanna said in a statement: “The Governor’s decision on natural gas production seems to be driven more by politics than sound science. Albany laws and regulations have held back the Upstate economy for far too long, especially here in the Southern Tier and Binghamton. Across the board, New York should start saying ‘yes’ to economic growth and jobs and stop searching for ways to just say ‘no’ when presented with an opportunity.”

Dan Fitzsimmons, President of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York said: “Governor Cuomo is committed to taking our property rights, jobs and economic opportunities. We will not stay silent while Governor Cuomo plays politics with our lives!”

Scott Kurkoski from the JLCNY cited Governor Cuomo’s recent comments at his inaugural address: “Governor Cuomo said ‘While American capitalism never guaranteed success, it did guarantee opportunity. . . . For too many the dream of economic mobility has been replaced with the nightmare of economic stagnation’. Who is Governor Cuomo kidding? He is denying our region the biggest opportunity we have seen in decades. He is the cause of our economic stagnation.” Kurkoski urged the crowd to continue the fight. “The Governors of 35 oil and gas producing states and the President of the United States say this can be done safely. Only Governor Cuomo stands in your way.”

Citizen Action of NY responded to the protest with the following statement:

In response to the Joint Landowner’s Coalition Rally today in Binghamton, Isaac Silberman-Gorn, Community Organizer with Citizen Action of NY stated: “A huge majority of residents across the Southern Tier and New York State support the Cuomo Administration’s decision to prohibit fracking. Like Dr. Zucker, we have looked at the science, and see the irreversible harms to our air, water, and health that fracking will cause.”

“Industry supporters have significantly exaggerated the jobs impact of fracking and our collaborative’s research has shown shale drilling has made little difference in job growth in any of the six states we studied,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York, and a member of the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, a group of research organizations tracking the impacts of shale drilling which studied the economic impact of drilling in the six states that span the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations. “In the states we studied, it was clear that shale related employment only accounted for 1 in every 795 jobs. By contrast, education and health sectors accounted for one out of every six jobs. So as we search for ways to rejuvenate the upstate economy, we must recognize that shale drilling is simply not the answer.”

BACKGROUND

While shale-related employment has made a positive contribution to job growth, the number of jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment in the region.
o Between 2005 and 2012, less than four new direct shale-related jobs have been created for each new well drilled, much less than estimates as high as 31 direct jobs per well in some industry-financed studies.
o Region-wide, shale-related employment accounts for just one out of every 795 jobs. By contrast, education and health sectors account for one out of every six jobs.
o Job growth in the industry has been greatest (as a share of total employment) in West Virginia. Still, shale-related employment is less than 1 percent of total West Virginia employment and less than half a percent of total employment in all the other states.

Many of the core extraction jobs existed before the emergence of hydrofracking.
o Together, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia had 38 percent of all producing wells in the country in 1990 and 32 percent in 2000.
o Some counties with a long history of mineral extraction have experienced a shift in employment from coal to shale extraction.

Industry employment projections have been overstated.
o Some industry supporters have equated “new hires” with “new jobs” and attributed ancillary job figures to shale drilling even when they have nothing to do with drilling.
o Industry-funded studies have used questionable assumption in economic modeling to inflate the number of jobs created in related supply chain industries (indirect jobs) as well as those created by the spending of income earned from the industry or its suppliers (induced jobs).

Drilling is highly sensitive to price fluctuations, which means that job gains may not be lasting.
o In some counties, employment gains have been reversed as drilling activity shifted to more lucrative oil shale fields in Ohio and North Dakota.
o Direct shale-related employment across the six-state Marcellus/Utica region fell over the last 12 months for which there are data — the first quarter 2012 to the first quarter 2013.

ABOUT THE MULTI-STATE SHALE RESEARCH COLLABORATIVE

The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative brings together independent, nonpartisan research and policy organizations in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia to monitor employment trends and the community impacts of energy extraction in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. Member organizations include the Fiscal Policy Institute of New York, Policy Matters Ohio, Keystone Research Center/Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Virginia, and West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. View the full report at http://www.multistateshale.org.

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