All along the Keystone State’s border with New York, there are big, blue roadside signs proclaiming, “Pennsylvania Welcomes You.”
Only now some Upstate New York towns may be interpreting this invitation as far more than a typical tourists greeting. A move is afoot in some parts of New York’s economically suffering Southern Tier to secede from that state and join Pennsylvania.
So what’s the catalyst for such a cataclysmic shift among Northeastern states?
None other than the politically controversial but potentially economically lucrative practice of natural gas hydraulic fracturing.
Simply put, New York has banned fracking, while parts of Pennsylvania are said to be prospering under it.
WBNG-TV in Binghamton was first to report the Southern Tier stirrings over possibly splitting up New York State over fracking.
And while the news station writes that the Empire State’s high property taxes and low sales tax revenues are also factors, it is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York that appears to have pushed some Upstaters to the breaking point.
A group called the Upstate New York Towns Association is said to be already researching the ramifications of a Southern Tier secession to join Pennsylvania. According to WBNG-TV, there are 15 towns in New York’s Broome, Delaware, Tioga and Sullivan counties interested in packing up and joining Pa.
But so far, none of the defecting towns have been named, and the Towns Association is so far remaining mum on all other specifics related to secession, as well, WBNG writes.
But the TV station quoted Conklin Town Supervisor Jim Finch, a Republican, who sounded deadly serious about a possible decision to secede:
“The Southern Tier is desolate,” he told WBNG. “We have no jobs and no income. The richest resource we have is in the ground.”
Right now, in the ground is precisely where New York State’s shale gas resources are staying, under Cuomo’s fracking ban.
This is why both the grass and the potentially lucrative economic gains derived from gas company land leases and fracking royalties suddenly look so much greener in Pennsylvania, where fracking on the Marcellus Shale has been going on full-bore for years now.
So far, the idea of a Southern Tier secession to Pennsylvania is being billed as a long shot.
As Yahoo News put it: “The rest of the state’s lawmakers would have to agree to let those cities go, and even then, who knows if Pennsylvania would want to acquire the defecting towns?”
But such a move is not without precedent. After all, it’s how Vermont came into being during the Revolutionary War.
Already, at least one New York State senator, Thomas Libous, is polling his constituents on the proposal, according to WBNG, which got the following reply from the Republican:
“After the one-two punch to our community from the recent casino and gas drilling decisions, my office received many emails, phone calls and messages from constituents calling for a Southern Tier secession from New York State. While getting my constituents’ opinion on spending the $5 billion surplus was our top priority, I thought a question on secession should also be included in the survey.”
So could it happen?
All this week, stay tuned to PennLive as reporter John Luciew and photographer tour New York’s Southern Tier to talk to residents, businesses and town officials there about the growing sentiment to secede and join Pa.
Look for our posts and pictures on the Southern Tier secession movement every morning on PennLive.
Meanwhile, if you have an opinion on whether Pennsylvania should welcome any Southern Tier towns wishing to join our state, express them in the comments below.
Also, pose your questions for our possible new Pennsylvania citizens to the north on why they may want to join Pa. and what they should expect life to be like in the Keystone State.
We’ll be sure to pose some of your queries to the disgruntled New Yorkers who soon could become some of Pennsylvania’s newest citizens.
Chime in below.
This article was written by JOHN LUCIEW from The Patriot-News and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.