Plenty of people leave New York state, but in a job-hungry stretch of upstate, folks talk about staying put and seceding to Pennsylvania. Local officials stung by a recent decision to ban natural gas fracking have raised the idea of redrawing the Keystone State's border. Even though they don't expect it to happen, members of the Upstate New York Towns Association hope the specter of secession will result in something—anything—good for a struggling part of the state peering enviously over the state line. "It's not like were looking across the border into Mexico or even looking across the border at Canada," said Candor supervisor Bob Riggs, whose rural town is one of about 15 in the association. "We're looking across the border into the United States, and it's very different."
The Southern Tier of New York sits atop the same gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation that has allowed Pennsylvania and other states to ride the fracking boom. In December, the Cuomo administration said it planned to ban hydraulic fracturing based on potential health risks and overstated economic benefits. Adding salt to the wound: New York state rejected two Southern Tier casino applicants the same day. Town of Conklin Supervisor Jim Finch said he mentioned secession jokingly the day the fracking ban was announced, after a reporter asked him what they would do next. But he said a recent constituent survey sent out by state Sen. Thomas Libous that included a question about seceding to Pennsylvania "popped the question right to the top." (Read more New York state stories.)