Anti-fracking candidates in the Southern Tier were left defeated in an election and in a region where shale gas development is a key issue.
Many candidates used their take on fracking as a way to draw in voters, but only pro-fracking candidates found success.
In the 22nd Congressional District, Republican Richard Hanna, an incumbent, beat Dan Lamb, a first-time candidate who was endorsed by New York Residents Against Drilling. In the 23rd District, Democratic challenger Nate Shinagawa lost by about 10,000 votes to incumbent Tom Reed. Shinagawa was also endorsed by opponents of hydraulic fracturing. In the Broome County executive race, Democrat and anti-drilling activist Tarik Abdelazim lost to incumbent Debbie Preston, a strong drilling supporter.
Local town races in the Southern Tier were also losing grounds for anti-fracking candidates.
In the town of Sanford, drilling opponent Brian Stevens lost 661 to 219 against incumbent Town Supervisor Dewey Decker, a landowner hoping for gas wells on his farm. In the town of Union, three candidates endorsed by New York Residents Against Drilling lost to incumbents.
The question is: Are voters sending a message to New York and their governor, Andrew Cuomo? The Southern Tier is a region under the national eye. It is a region near the Pennsylvania border where shale gas drilling is most likely to begin if Cuomo allows it. New York has had a moratorium on shale gas drilling since 2008, when regulators began an environmental review of fracking. The wait might continue for the review’s results. As of Nov. 8, the state Department of Health hadn’t begun its health impact study, which is required before that state can make decisions regarding fracking regulations. This means This means the state might miss a Nov. 29 state deadline to release those regulations. If that happens, that rule-making process—separate from the ongoing environmental review—would have to start all over again. And that means more public hearings, and public comments, for the state to study.
It’s unclear how much weight voters really put on the fracking issue compared to other concerns such as jobs and taxes, and despite voters’ choices fracking won’t be coming to New York anytime soon.