It’s tough up here in NY’s flyover country, that enormous expanse that starts in the Catskill mountains north of New York City, and runs north towards the Adirondack Mountains through the State Government City (Albany), westward for hundreds of miles along the “Southern Tier” past Elmira and Corning, then up to Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, which are shadows of their former selves.

There are bubbles of prosperity, mostly college towns like Ithaca, but beyond the bubble, it’s tough.

And depressing.

This is beautiful country and countryside, but it has been bleeding population and jobs for decades.

Just as used to be the case in the area of Pennsylvania just across the Southern Tier border, less than an hour south of Ithaca.

Upstate NY Map

Fracking changed all that for the Pennsylvania flyover country.

As in many other places around the country, fracking turned around what James Carville once referred to as the Alabama part of Pennsylvania.

There were high hopes along the Southern Tier. The prospect that the years-long fracking moratorium would be lifted resulted in large cash payments for mineral rights to farmers and others in this region.

Those hopes are dead. As a doorknob.

Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the disputed method of natural gas extraction.

State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.

That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting Mr. Cuomo convened in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release oil and natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

It didn’t need to be this way:

The ban is popular with environmentalists, of course, but it will deprive farmers and other landowners of billions of dollars in royalties their neighbors in Pennsylvania are enjoying with the fracking boom. And that’s sad, since New York’s Health Department report doesn’t give much supporting evidence for the ban, other than vague claims of surface pollution, noise and economic disruption that accompany any large-scale industrial development.

The report cites no solid evidence that fracking can cause methane and other hydrocarbons trapped in shale rock thousands of feet underground to suddenly change their behavior and migrate through a mile or more of bedrock. Fracking can contaminate groundwater, of course, but only if drillers make mistakes installing well casing, or spill oil or fracking fluids on the surface — accidents that can happen with any type of drilling.

There will be litigation, but good luck with that.

The party’s over. Turn out the lights.

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