‘Fracking’ debate hits home for NY, PA communities

Seventy-four percent of new employees in the oil and gas industry are from Pennsylvania, said Henderson, adding that there are also “people crossing the border of both western Pennsylvania and the Northern Tier” to work for oil and gas companies.

“There are New York workers going into Pennsylvania,” said Moreau, “to work on Pennsylvania gas drilling crews.”

The Keystone State has also seen tax revenues explode, raking in about $1.7 billion directly from the oil and gas industry since 2006, according to Henderson. Furthermore, impact fees, which are levied on each well, have driven millions of dollars back to local governments. $204 million was raised in the first round of collections in September 2012.

“We have what’s anticipated to be what’s perhaps the second largest shale gas deposit in the world potentially in Broome County, New York,” said Moreau. She added that Broome County alone has lost out on $24 million in tax payments because of New York’s moratorium.

A 2011 study by the conservative Manhattan Institute found that ending the moratorium on fracking would spur more than  $11.4 billion economic growth, along with up to 18,000 jobs created in the Southern Tier and Western New York. According to the study, these regions lost 48,000 payroll jobs between 2000 and 2010.

“We missed a golden opportunity, I believe to reshape Southern New York, upstate New York,” Tom Santulli, the executive of Chemung County, told Fox News. “We need fuel and lots of it, and we’ve got the cleanest fossil fuel that there is sitting right here. We should use it, put it to work, and renovate these communities.”

Elmira, New York, located in the county, has an unemployment rate of 9.3 percent.

“The impact of stalling New York development is hitting hardest on poor rural landowners,” said Moreau. “It’s an area where agriculture has declined significantly because it’s just too expensive to farm.”

Environmentalists have been putting pressure on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking, raising concerns about groundwater contamination.

“What you have are anti-fossil fuel activists who have now come in from all across the country and identified New York as ground zero for the movement,” Moreau told The DCNF.

“You have a number of has-been celebrities that have been resurrected, said Moreau. “They’re like ‘The Walking Dead.’”

Celebrities like Yoko Ono — ex-Beatle John Lennon’s widow — have come out against fracking. Ono and her son Sean Lennon started the group Artists Against Fracking that includes Lady Gaga, Robert De Niro and Uma Thurman.