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NY anti-frackers get win but inside view less rosy

Associated Press Modified: October 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm •  Published: October 6, 2012

Politically, it comes down to weighing the real and immediate joblessness crisis in a state where the economic recovery trails the nation, against a possible environmental disaster down the road.

"There may be a short-term political hit" with either choice, said Steven Greenberg of the Siena College poll. "But I don't think it's a political hit of lengthy consequence.

"But I do think there are potential political implications down the road," Greenberg said. "The smart political decision is to let science guide the way."

Tax revenue records obtained by The Associated Press also show an enticing uptick in hotel and restaurant business and overall spending over the last 12 months in communities just north of the Pennsylvania border. Some Albany analysts attribute that partly to overflow business from fracking already under way just south of the state line, along with tropical storm recovery efforts. Those counties saw double-digit increases, with a 28.7-percent increase in Tioga County, compared to overall statewide increase of 4.7 percent.

Overall sales tax collections increased 6.8 percent in the Southern Tier, the biggest regional jump in the state, and while the statewide average was 4.2 percent.

Bold face names abound on the opposition, although their involvement hasn't yet been shown to have bumped up steady, public opposition. Among the opponents to fracking are Robert F. Kennedy, Cuomo's former brother-in-law, along with musicians Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney. Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon joined Artists Against Fracking led by actor Mark Ruffalo.

Although Albany has a history of being star-struck when celebrities push policies, Cuomo has insisted science alone will make his decision. And he's also earned loads of goodwill and campaign funds from the entertainment industry for his championing of gay marriage in last year.

If a truly independent and thorough public review is undertaken, "I think it gets us there," said Dr. Kathleen Nolan of the Catskill Mountainkeeper environmental group opposed to fracking.