As President Barack Obama begins his two-day bus tour of upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania to speak about higher education, perhaps the most intriguing secondary storyline will be natural-gas drilling as he travels into the center of the New York hydrofracking debate.
The Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York, one of the main gas-industry trade groups in the state, is trying to get a head start.
In a postcard released early Thursday, IOGA touts Obama’s position on natural gas and fracking while urging New York to “get on board”—a reference to the bus Obama will be boarding as he shuttles from stop to stop. (Obama is a shale-gas drilling supporter and has used the grand stage of his State of the Union address to give it a public thumbs up.)
Friday will be the most-watched day of Obama’s trip, from a fracking standpoint. He starts in Binghamton—which sits within what is believed to be one of the most valuable portions of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale—before heading to Scranton, Pa. While in Binghamton, he’ll be in a state that has yet to decide on high-volume fracking; on his way to Scranton, he’ll pass through one of the most-actively drilled regions of Pennsylvania.
“The President’s visit to New York’s Southern Tier and Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier will punctuate the economic disparity between the two regions – one of which is thriving with natural gas development under a sensible regulatory structure – and the other, in New York, whose economy is withering under political uncertainty,” IOGA Executive Director Brad Gill said in a statement. “We ask Governor Cuomo to get on board with the president and America’s energy revolution, and allow for safe natural gas exploration in New York.”
Meanwhile, anti-fracking protesters are promising to follow Obama from stop to stop, with their biggest turnout expected in Binghamton on Friday. Pro-drilling landowners will also gather Friday—but in Otsiningo Park, a 6.4-mile drive from the Binghamton University campus where Obama will appear.
Here’s the IOGA postcard: