The hydrofracking debate continues to be in the spotlight for people in the Southern Tier. A new plan to create jobs and provide tax relief to upstate New York also calls for the state to break ground on the controversial drilling practice. As Elyse Mickalonis explains, supporters believe New York can frack safely, but not everyone agrees.
KIRKWOOD, N.Y. -- It’s a proposal to help struggling upstate communities, one that calls for developing the Marcellus Shale.
"We can do hydrofracking in the state of New York better than anyone else in a safe way, in an economic way,” said Brian Sampson, Unshackle Upstate Executive Director.
On Monday, the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce joined businesses, leaders and others to support Unshackle Upstate’s New ERA for Upstate Plan.
Their goal is to create jobs and reduce taxes on income, sales and corporate franchises.
Supporters say developing the Marcellus shale could bring in $78 million dollars in revenue from 2014 to 2015. They feel enough research has been done to prove it’s a safe practice.
Leaders believe with some local companies already using natural gas, it could add to the growth.
"We received a million dollar grant from NYSERDA to help us purchase 15 compressed natural gas tractors. A portion of that money is going to be going to help us purchase the tractors themselves another part is going towards upgrading our facility to service the tractors,” said James Donovan, Willow Run Foods Finance Vice President.
Lou Santoni, Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce CEO, added, "This is a big one, especially for us in the Southern Tier, that natural gas drilling can revive not only our economy, but the entire upstate economy. We've supported this from day one and we believe if New York is serious about improving upstate, this must be part of the plan."
But not everyone is on board. Opponents feel natural gas drilling isn’t safe.
"We're watching Unshackle Upstate as a business lobby, totally unsubstantiated job claims from fracking. Five years later, down in Pennsylvania, the job numbers were never what they promised and now people are left with a toxic landscape. Polluted air and water,” said Isaac Silberman-Gorn, Citizen Action Environmental Organizer.
Still, Unshackle Upstate feels shale development and the ERA plan are the way to go.
To read the entire ERA plan, click here