November 8, 2012

Anti-Fracking Candidates Defeated Across Southern Tier Region

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Despite strong opposition for hydraulic fracturing in the Ithaca area, anti-fracking candidates were resoundingly defeated Tuesday in races throughout the Southern Tier.

In New York’s redrawn 23rd District, Democrat Nate Shinagawa ’05 M.A. ’09, who was endorsed by fracking opponents, lost to Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) by about 10,000 votes. Reed received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from oil gas companies and has sided with them on every related vote he has taken in Congress, The Sun reported on Monday.

Shinagawa was one of many candidates for elected office across the Southern Tier region — which is composed of eight counties on or near the border of New York and Pennsylvania — that opposed hydraulic fracturing and lost.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is currently under pressure from environmental groups to ban fracking, a controversial practice where chemicals and water are injected into the ground at high velocity to extract natural gas. The Southern Tier is the region where fracking is most likely to begin if Cuomo approves the practice, the Associated Press reported.

In the state’s 22nd District Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) defeated challenger Dan Lamb (D), another fracking opponent. Meanwhile, in the race for Broome County executive, anti-drilling activist Tarik Abdelazim (D) was defeated by incumbent Debbie Preston (R), who strongly supports fracking.

It is not clear how much the issue of hydraulic fracturing influenced Southern Tier voters. However, on Wednesday the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, a pro-drilling group, called the results “a clear mandate,” according to the AP.

Karen Moreau, executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council, also said the election showed voters favor hyrdofracking.

“The results from last night’s election in the Southern Tier should serve as a clear call for action in Albany to create jobs through safe natural gas development,” Moreau said.

However, gas drilling opponents said the election should not be viewed as a referendum in favor of fracking, according to the AP.

“All these election results mean is that big money is still a big factor in our electoral process,” said Sue Rapp of Vestal Residents for Safe Energy, which opposes the practice. “We believe that the majority of residents understand that we are not ready for fracking anywhere in New York state.”

Original Author: David Marten