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August 28, 2012

Fracking foes put heat on Gov. Cuomo

By Joe Mahoney, Staff Writer
The Daily Star

The Daily Star — ALBANY — Hundreds of opponents of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas rallied outside the state Capitol on Monday in what some said was the kickoff for even more demonstrations if Gov. Andrew Cuomo sanctions high-volume drilling in New York.

“I think Governor Cuomo is going to have a harder time signing off now on fracking after this demonstration of opposition,” said Matt Frisch of Arkville, Delaware County, employed as a public school teacher in New York City.

Speaker after speaker — including documentary filmmaker Josh Fox, actress Debra Winger and ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber — exhorted Cuomo to abandon what they said were apparently imminent plans to allow the controversial shale gas extraction technique in New York.

“There ought to be a better way to create jobs than through hydrofracking,” said Siobhan Griffin, an organic farmer from Middlefield, one of the first towns in New York to ban hydrofracking. Another Middlefield farmer, Jennifer Huntington, is waging a court battle, with help from a gas industry lawyer, to overturn that ban.

Griffin predicted that “the resistance is going to get bigger and bigger.”

Steingraber, an ecologist on the faculty of Ithaca College and a high-profile anti-fracking activist, said state government has “repeatedly turned a deaf ear” to those warning hydraulic fracturing poses serious environmental and health risks. She said the fight to stop shale gas development is “the greatest movement in New York state since abolition and suffrage.”

Fox, the director of the film “Gasland,” a critical view of natural gas extraction, told The Daily Star the stakes are high in the debate over high-volume horizontal drilling.

According to information leaked to the New York Times in June, Cuomo is poised to allow fracking in five counties near the Pennsylvania border, including Chenango County.

Trellan Smith of Oxford, Chenango County, said drilling opponents in her town have begun to push for a town-wide prohibition against fracking.