A one-two punch for the Southern Tier

Officials in the Southern Tier expressed disappointment over the ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing and the state Gaming Commission Sighting Board’s decision to turn down two proposals for licenses, one in the Binghamton area and another in Tioga County.

Speaking with Gannett reporter Jon Campbell, Senate Deputy Republican Leader Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton said the “disappointment looms very heavy.”

“This is devastating to our region, a region that has been struggling day in and day out,” he said. “And then to add on top of that the decision not to move forward with fracking this morning was another blow to the Southern Tier.”

Before the casino decision was announced, Governor Cuomo said it was a “legitimate question” to ask what the state can do to help jump start the Binghamton and Elmira economies, which have regularly trailed other areas of the state in job growth in recent years. Binghamton lost 300 jobs between October 2013 and October 2014, while Elmira added just 300, according to the state Department of Labor.

Cuomo said the state’s challenge is to make sure that the region has the economic incentive to thrive, without fracking or a casino. He said supporters of fracking have often asked him the question: “If not this, then what?”

“They need jobs, and they need income, and what’s the alternative to fracking?” Cuomo told reporters. “And I think that’s a very good question, and I think it’s our responsibility to develop an alternative for that community for safe, clean economic development.”