Aside from the economy, one of the more hot and controversial topics in New York is hydrofracking. Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested a plan that would let some struggling communities along the border with Pennsylvania use fracking in a limited capacity. The administration has since retreated. And with the President visiting New York this week, Cuomo hopes that he can continue to steer far away from the topic. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more.
NEW YORK STATE -- President Obama's upstate swing this week includes a stop in Binghamton, a city in a region that has become the center of the contentious hydrofracking debate in New York. And it could be a complicated situation for Governor Andrew Cuomo. Obama has touted hydrofracking, while state officials in New York continue to study its health impact.
"The question is there a cost to the environment, to health, etc. That's what has to be assessed and that's what has to be weighed. That's what we're going through now. But the president's point that fracking has economic benefits, energy benefits for this country, that's inarguable," Cuomo said.
Obama's visit to the University at Binghamton is expected to focus on higher education issues, not natural gas drilling. But the issue will loom over the trip, as will anti-fracking protesters. For environmentalists, there is a difference between Obama's backing fracking nationally and Cuomo taking more time.
"The president's looking at it from a national level. New York has very specific issues that they are looking at in terms of the air issues, the water issues with New York City," said Sierra Club Conservation Association Caitlin Pixley.
That's not to say environmental groups are thrilled with Obama's position on hydrofracking, but they do applaud his stance on climate change and renewable energies.
Pixley said, "We weren't necessarily happy with him his position on hydrofracking. But we would like to see him embrace more of his energy efficiency issues that he did lay out in his climate plan."
For supporters of hydrofracking, the president's backing is only more evidence that New York should move forward and begin issuing permits after a five year defacto moratorium.
"The president has clearly identified that is a more clean burning gas. It certainly lowers our carbon footprint. It's created a lot of economic opportunity across the country. We believe we should be doing it here in New York State," said Brian Sampson, Unshackle Upstate Executive Director.
Though pro-fracking forces have won out in neighboring states like Pennsylvania, where Obama will also visit this week, business groups point to a very effective environmental campaign.
Sampson said, "I think we're in a very blue state where the environmentalists have some influence over how our legislators think and deal with environmental issues."
Cuomo plans to greet Obama in Buffalo on Thursday. He is not expected to attend Friday's event in Binghamton.