This week, New York became the second state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Vermont's ban, which was the first, was largely symbolic, as the state doesn't have any real natural gas resources. New York, though, sits on the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, and the debate over whether to open it to fracking has been deeply emotional and contentious.
Here & Now's Robin Young talks to the mayor of Elmira, New York, Susan Skidmore, who was in favor of the ban, and to dairy farmer Kevin "Cub" Frisbie, who had been hoping to lease his land for drilling.
Interview Highlights: Susan Skidmore and Kevin Frisbie
Skidmore on silica and other fracking environmental concerns
“The silica blows around, it’s on the ground, it’s in the air. You know once it gets into your lungs, it doesn’t come out. One of the railroads they use here in Elmira is right next to our largest park, and we’ve been rebuilding that. It’s a historic park and some days you can go down there and you can’t even see the roads or the lines in the roads because of all the silica. And the rail yard is right behind residential houses.”
Skidmore on farmers who want to lease their land for fracking
“I do have sympathy for those farmers. In some cases, we have the farmers that need to have some sort of income—so they want to lease their land out—and we have farmers who want to protect their income because they sell holistic food, and they can’t. This is a huge thing for upstate New York with organic farming, microbreweries and those sorts of things.”
Frisbie on his support for fracking
“Pennsylvania has jumped into it, and they’ve made some mistakes but they’ve fixed them. And that’s what annoys me the most is that people forget what a great country this is and when mistakes are made, we have the capacity in this country to fix anything that's broken.”
Frisbie on the health concerns of fracking
“One of the most sacred things that we have is our land and our water — next to our family —it’s the most important. I’m on a fourth generation farm. The last thing I want to do is decimate the property that I own. I want to pass it on to my kids or to someone else that will keep it in better shape than I took it. Fracking has been in Texas for 40-50 years — they have a hundred thousand operating wells and if there was mass issues of health in Texas, we would be reading about it in the paper."
- Susan Skidmore, mayor of Elmira, New York. She supported the ban on fracking.
- Kevin "Cub" Frisbie, dairy farmer in Tioga County, and member of the Joint Landowners Coalition, which is in favor of fracking in New York.
This segment aired on December 19, 2014.
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