Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New York State remains battleground in fracking fight Industry’s political pull tied to outcome of today’s races

While New York State is expected to be uncompetitive in today's presidential election, it remains a battleground in the political battle that will influence the future of shale gas development. The outcome of local, state, and Congressional races today will play an important role in testing public appetite for the industry in the Empire State, where fracking is on hold pending further review. Will districts in New York’s Southern Tier -- over one of the worlds most promising shale gas reserves --- muster the political will to advance or delay shale gas development? Here are several key races in Marcellus Shale Country that will begin to answer that question. I will be posting results of these races at they becomes available on my Facebook Page.

New York State Assembly 123RD District: Incumbent Donna Lupardo, a senior Democrat, versus Republican challenger Julie Lewis, a leader of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York. Lupardo, a proponent of more thorough, regulation, study and health reviews, is advocating a “wait and see” approach to shale gas development, while Lewis is a “drill here drill now” advocate.

New York State Senate 52nd District: Tom Libous, Deputy Majority Leader, is a drilling supporter. Working with Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Libous has held a key position in ensuring that anti-fracking measures don’t gain traction in the Senate. If he is defeated, or if his party loses control of the Senate, the state is more likely to pass legislation that will ban or delay fracking. Democratic challenger John Orzel has criticized Libous for being too cozy with the industry, although Orzel has not taken a position for or against fracking.

U.S. 22nd Congressional District: This newly redrawn district is one of three districts that sit over potentially productive parts of the Marcellus Shale (including Broom and Tioga Counties). Dan Lamb, a Democrat and former aid to retiring U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, is against fracking. Richard Hanna, a Republican incumbent, is open to it, although it has been a lower profile issue for Hanna than for Lamb.

U.S. 23rd Congressional District: Pro-drilling incumbent Tom Reed, a Republican from Corning, is facing Democratic challenger Nate Shinagawa in the race for a district that stretches over reserves in the south western part of the state. Reed is for fracking. Shinagawa is against it.

Broome County Executive: Broome County -- a hot spot for prospective development of both the Marcellus and Utica Shales, as well as for build out of regional and interstate pipelines -- is heavily staked to the outcome of New York’s shale gas policy. Incumbent Republican Debbie Preston supports development, while challenger Tarik Abdelazim, a Democrat, feels fracking is unsafe without considerable policy reforms.

Candidates endorsed by fracking opponents can be found at the New York Residents Against Drilling website. Those endorsed by drilling supporters can be found at the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York website

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