In the wake of Gov. Cuomo’s ban on natural gas development in the state, it was reported last week that 15 Southern Tier towns located in Broome, Delaware, Tioga and Sullivan counties are threatening to secede from the state to join Pennsylvania.

Under the umbrella of the Upstate New York Towns Association, whose leaders say they have been denied the economic benefits of fracking, the 15 towns are conducting studies to determine whether it would be economically feasible to join Pennsylvania, where natural gas drilling is allowed.  The group is comparing tax rates, cost of living and business expenses between New York and Pennsylvania, and expects to complete its study in the coming weeks.

That New York residents would even consider this should be a wakeup call for our leaders in Albany.  We’ve made the case for years now that the people of the Southern Tier – one of the most economically challenged parts of the state – should be able to develop their natural resources.  But with the state banning high volume hydraulic fracturing, the 25,000 (or so) jobs that would have been created will not happen.  This might not be important for people living in New York City (where the economy is doing well). But for the Southern Tier – which has been losing jobs and people for decades now – it is a back breaker.