Astorino vows to 'move forward' with NY natural gas drilling

By Julianne Peixoto

July 15, 2014 Updated Jul 15, 2014 at 11:32 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino held a rally in Owego Tuesday night -- the hot topic of discussion was hydraulic fracturing.

Astorino will be running against incumbent Andrew Cuomo this November. And the two candidates have very different views on some of the most controversial statewide issues.

Astorino's campaign platform contradicts Cuomo's in many ways -- he rejects the Common Core, disagrees with the SAFE Act and would push to start natural gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing.

"We're going to move forward with natural gas exploration," said Astorino. "We're going to do it the right way, we're going to set up the right environmental safeguards and we're all gonna reap the benefits from this."

The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently released a report listing 363 cities in the United States and their economic outlook going forward 10 years. Binghamton came in last place.

"Taxes are driving people out, the business climate under Andrew Cuomo is the worst in the nation, the economic outlook in the next 10 years is the worst in the nation," said Astorino. "Unless we start taking advantage of the natural gas that we've been blessed with here, we're gonna continue to be a very depressed region, and I won't allow that."

Anti-fracking protestors also attended the event, holding signs across the street from the pavilion in which Astorino was speaking.

"No one believes anymore that there are no risks associated with this heavy industry," said Citizen Action of New York Community organizer Isaac Silberman-Gorn. "There are tremendously serious issues and people are getting sick by the dozens down in Pennsylvania."

Nearly two dozen protestors were present at the event.

"We’re hoping that he [Astorino] actually looks at the science behind the issue," said Silberman-Gorn. "There’s an emerging body of science that says it [hydro-fracking] cannot be done safely. In the last four months, there have been more reports on the health effects of fracking then there have been in the last two years, so this is a matter of a new and emerging body of science showing that fracking can’t be done safely."

But not everyone is convinced there are hazards to hydro fracking.

"Why haven't the 30 other states that are drilling stopped the drilling if it's so devastating?" asked Chenango Forks resident Victor Furman. "Why haven't we seen an influx of Pennsylvanians coming across the border to New York, where obviously fracking is still a long way off?"

Astorino said under his leadership, he would honor the recent court decision that allows local jurisdictions to decide whether to allow natural gas drilling, but he would also allow interested areas to try fracking.