Natural gas drilling in Otsego County brings questions from 24th Congressional candidates
(WKTV) - Congressman Michael Arcuri's campaign has pointed out that Republican Challenger Richard Hanna owns stock in several companies involved in the Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling in Otsego County. Hanna has recently sold his interest in two of the companies most involved in the Otsego County hydro-fracking - Anadarko Pete Corp. and Chesapeake Energy. Hanna maintains shares in Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Hess Corporation, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Petroleo Brasileiro, Sunoco, Tesoro, Total ADR, Transocean, and Whiting Petroleum. Hanna campaign spokeswoman Renee Gamela said that it is common for investors to hold stocks in commodities. However, Arcuri Campaign Spokesman Jeff Johnston says the stocks are a conflict of interest. "How can you stand up for the people of Central New York on a critical issue if you have a financial interest in the companies involved?" Johnston asked. The Hanna campaign said they suggest the Congressman ask himself that same question. "Since Mr. Arcuri was a District Attorney, he receives a pension from the New York State pension system, which means he owns stock in BP," Gamela said. Johnston points out that recipients of the state pension don't pick what stocks the system buys. Both the incumbent and the challenger are against hydro-fracking in Otsego County. However, Hanna says he would support the effort if a guarantee is put in place ensuring environmentally safety. The Arcuri campaign says the Democratic Congressman has been an opponent of drilling since day one, but that Hanna was all for drilling until the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Hanna now supports the idea of a national energy policy. However, Hanna's campaign said that may not be an entirely different stance. Along with drilling, Hanna was a proponent for the development of new energy sources in his 2008 campaign. Gamela says the Arcuri campaign is "desperately trying to get traction, while, the Hanna campaign would like to stick to the issues important to the people of the 24th district." Johnston still wonders if Hanna can weigh in on those issues in an unbiased manner. Neither Arcuri or Hanna face a primary opponent. They will face off against each other for the second time, on November 2.