New York State split down the middle on fracking

In the LA Times today (and other papers across the country) is a feature story about how the hot-button issue of hydraulic fracturing is dividing neighbor from neighbor in upstate New York.

And brother from brother: Reporter Neela Banerjee illustrates just how potent the issue is with a lede about Pete and Jack Diehl, two dairy-farming brothers in their 60s who own land together in Callicoon.

Pete, 67, opposes leasing his land and the property the brothers jointly own. He worries that he would lose control over his pastures to a big corporation and that the drilling process could ruin the water.

"Once you lease the land, they can do what they want on it. They can drill wherever they want," he said. "It's about the future. It's the landscape. It's the Catskills."

Jack, 61, favors leasing, convinced that a tough contract could protect the water while delivering thousands of dollars in royalties to keep the family's farms afloat in these difficult economic times.

"If you do a contract right, the water will be tested beforehand and the company will be liable for the water," he said. "If anything happens to it, they will bring you water until it gets cleared up."

The story cites a poll by Quinnipiac University, conducted in December 2011, that shows New Yorkers evenly split on hydraulic fracturing: 45 percent against, 44 percent for.