Protesters Greet Governor With Message About Fracking
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Rochester on February 21 2013. Despite a stiff wind and temperatures in the teens he was greeted by 40-50 demonstrators calling for a ban on the drilling process known as "fracking" for natural gas. Another group of 10 or so were demonstrating against the State's new gun law, one of the most restrictive in the nation. While the issues may seem unrelated, members of both groups were critical of the lack of access ordinary citizens have to elected officials. One said "it's like he's a Duke or something...he doesn't care about us." Members of both groups called attention to what they felt were flagrant wastes of energy. A gas fireplace burned in an unused courtyard of an upscale restaurant. Several electric lights were also on, in the middle of the day. "They want to destroy our planet and take away our rights to do that." Police had the street behind the Eastman theater blocked off as well as a walkway to the parking garage. Cuomo was brought in through a back entrance out of sight of crowds and cameras.
One anti-fracking protester had a green dragon-like creature on top of a staff. When asked what it meant he replied it was a "fracking demon." Halliburton, one of the companies that pioneered the fracking process refuses to disclose what chemicals make up the fluid it is mixing with the water it injects into the ground. The chemicals have caused the deaths of farm animals and illness in humans in Pennsylvania, where fracking has been occurring for the past 5 years. The New York State Health Department has not explicitly said that fracking is harmful but has not certified it as safe either. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is initiating a new study. New York is currently under a moratorium on fracking, which was begun in 2010 under former governor David Patterson.
Local members of the Green party were in attendance, former Legislative candidate Drew Langdon and current Mayor candidate Alex White. The Green party supports a "Green New Deal" with the development of clean, renewable fuels and strong democratic local economies. A strong link was made between fracking and climate change. While the industry promotes natural gas as a "clean" fuel, it is still a fossil fuel and burning it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The fracking process poses a threat to the climate as well, as it releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane exacerbates global warming much more than carbon dioxide. New York has proposed some of the strictest controls on methane in the country, but it still may not be enough.
Cuomo is expected to decide within days or weeks whether to lift New York's ban on fracking.
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