Anti-fracking activists will converge Saturday on the village of Sharon Springs when a 65-year-old Buddhist nun takes the first step in a planned 50-mile trek timed to end at the state Capitol in Albany on Wednesday.
At the end of the journey, Jun Yasuda will join a demonstration against gas drilling near the state Capitol, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo will deliver the annual State of the State speech.
People on both sides of the drilling debate say they do not expect Cuomo to avoid the controversial topic. He has assigned State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to study the health impacts of hydrofracking, and Shah said last month he does not know when his review will be completed.
Sharon Springs Mayor Doug Plummer said he is pleased that Yasuda chose Sharon Springs as the place to begin her walk.
“This is quite an honor,” said Plummer. “I think this is going to get the attention of the governor and the powers that be in Albany.”
Yasuda, who lives at the Grafton Peace Pagoda in Petersburgh, Rensselaer County, is a veteran of marathon walks to promote social justice and to protest against nuclear weapons and slavery in Africa. In 1978, she along with Native American activists participated in the “Longest Walk,” beginning in San Francisco and winding up in Washington, D.C. That was just one of several times she walked across the country to promote peace, her supporters said.
Elliot Adams of Sharon Springs said he expects other activists in the anti-fracking movement will join Yasuda for portions of her walk. Adams said while fracking may initially bring the appearance of prosperity to a region, that burst of activity is not sustained, and environmental problems inevitably crop up.
“We know that boom economics is a bad form of economic growth,” he said.