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wine_vineyard120Watkins Glen, NY - At the New York Wine & Food Classic wine competition, New York winery owners and a group of New Yorkers called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to protect wine and tourism businesses by banning fracking. They made the argument that allowing fracking to move forward would undermine those industries.

“We are pleased that the governor has recognized the vital importance of tourism and especially agri-tourism to the regional and state economy,” said Art Hunt of Hunt Country Vineyards, a seventh generation family farm in Branchport, NY. “The thousands of jobs created are both economically and environmentally sustainable.  On the other hand, high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing is neither. If it were to be allowed here, tourism would almost immediately cease. We urge him to reject this process and help us build the state economy by championing the 'buy locally' movement. It truly is the best solution to the state's economic woes.”

The wine and beverage industries employ 10,000 New Yorkers and depend on clean water to make their beverages. Toxic byproducts from the fracking process often pollute the watershed and damage agriculture, putting these growing industries and in turn the upstate economy at risk. According to Governor Cuomo’s office, there has been since 17% growth in farm wineries, 74% growth in micro-breweries, 83% growth in cideries, 211% growth in farm distilleries and 400% growth in hop production since he took office.

“Governor Cuomo, the Finger Lakes region has over a 3 billion dollar tourist industry with wineries and vineyards as the centerpiece, this is renewable and sustainable,” said Lou Damiani of Damiani Wine Cellars in Burdett, NY of Schuyler County. “If we industrialize upstate NY with hydrofracking and LPG gas storage facilities we will certainly ruin this thriving business , WE can’t have it both ways, it makes absolutely no sense environmentally or economically to hydrofrack our beautiful state. Please stop!”

In the spring, the Finger Lakes was named by Yahoo! as a location for “Lakeside vacations that have it all.” The Finger Lakes was recognized for their more than 100 wineries that line the shores of its 11 lakes, wine tours, the beautiful village of Skaneateles, the Corning Glass Museum, and Watkins Glen State Park, where you can climb past 19 waterfalls. For years, winery owners in the Finger Lakes have been asking Governor Cuomo for a meeting to discuss their concerns about fracking. A letter requesting a meeting signed by over 50 wineries never received a response from the Governor’s office.

“According to the Rumbach study already quoted in the 2011 SGEIS, the Southern Tier three-county region’s ability to continue to grow tourism as a local economic engine will be damaged for the long-term ‘by degrading visitor experiences and creating an industrial landscape that far outlives the profitability of gas extraction,” said Chuck Tauck, owner of Sheldrake Point Winery in the Finger Lakes. “We believe the same would be true for the other five counties that comprise the Finger Lakes wine region.”

Over a hundred tourism-related businesses from New York have already joined the over 1,000 businesses across the state calling for a statewide ban of fracking, as well as 150+ prominent chefs.

As the fifth largest employment sector in New York State, the tourism industry provided nearly 700,000 jobs and approximately $17 billion in wages in 2011. Tourism is also a major source of revenue for New York, generating more than $7 billion for the state. The tourism industry depends on clean air and water, as well as an environmental quality of life that fracking would disrupt. Toxic byproducts from the fracking process often pollute the watershed and damage agriculture, putting growing tourism industries at risk.

In other areas where fracking already exists, the arrival of gas workers has strained short-term accommodations during peak tourism season, since busy season for drilling occurs in the warmer months. It has created conflicts for tourism planners and officials and can paradoxically undercut the hotel room tax rate that is crucial to revenues that fund tourism services in the Southern Tier, because gas workers would likely stay in hotels long enough to avoid paying the tax.

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