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Hydrofracking goes all the way to the ballot box

Drill rig beside red barn under heavy cloud
Emma Jacobs
Right: a drill rig on a Pennsylvania farm. The state won’t be levying a severance tax on natural gas drilling anytime soon.

We haven't mentioned hydrofracking in days, but don't you go thinking there's no news. Today, we bring you a round-up of the latest developments on natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which (surprise!) has turned out to be a hot topic this election season.

Hydrofracking could turn the tide in the NY-22 race

The Wall Street Journal suggests natural gas drilling may be responsible for a recent tightening in the race between longtime congressman, Maurice Hinchey (D) and his opponent George Phillips. The journal suggests Hinchey's backing of the Environmental Protection Agency's review of hydrofracking is turning landowners away from the Democratic incumbent:

"He's against drilling and I told him to his face that I would do everything in my power to make sure that he never gets re-elected," said Inge Grafe-Kieklak, who describes herself as a Sullivan County homemaker who voted for Hinchey in 2008. With more than 180 acres of land to lease and a 22% decline in revenue from her husband's outdoor-advertising business over the last year, "Mr. Hinchey doesn't understand with his actions he hurts everybody."

The local Press & Sun-Bulletin and Politico have suggested that maybe the state of the race stems from other factors. Recent weeks have also seen hundreds of thousands of dollars of external money financing major TV buys for the Phillips campaign and Hinchey's alleged attempt to strangle a reporter, but who are we to judge.

Phillips attempted a tour of drilling sites in Pennsylvania last week, though it was cut short by closed roads and a confused GPS. However, the candidate said he was "impressed" and hoped to move forward with drilling in the Southern Tier.

High school students start debate

Students in Nottingham invited the gubernatorial candidates to their high school for a real debate on the real issues: natural gas drilling.

Leyana Dessauer, 16, "says energy is the state's most important environmental issue; one that will most impact young people."

Warren Redlich (Libertarian) and Howie Hawkins (Green) did arrive to debate hydrofracking. Redlich voiced his support for drilling in New York State, saying, "the heating bill is too damn high."

The severance tax is dead

Pennsylvania, the only state without a severance tax on natural gas extraction, will not be getting one this year. Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell, said last week that the bill has stalled and will not pass during the remainder of his term. The current frontrunner to replace Rendell is Tom Corbett (R), who opposes a gas tax.

Former WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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