A brief positive comment by potential presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton about domestic natural gas and oil production has thrown local anti-fracking activists into a lather and exposed the widening chasm within the Democratic Party over the drilling issue.
Speaking at Hamilton College, the former Secretary of State and former First Lady observed what published reports have already pointed out — that U.S. domestic production of gas and oil would soon surpass that of Russia.
“What that means for viable manufacturing and industrialization in this country is enormous,” she then said, according to the Gannett News Service.
Melinda Hardin of Cooperstown, a supporter of some Democratic political candidates, attended the speech at the campus in Oneida County on Friday and recalled Tuesday that the comment by Clinton represented only a tiny fraction of her speech. Clinton, she pointed out, never endorsed the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
“The speech was a good hour long, and that statement took about 10 seconds, and there is nothing untrue about what she said,” said Hardin.
For numerous people who did not attend the speech, however, Clinton’s positive take on enhanced domestic energy production efforts prompted them to skewer her in web postings, press releases, blogs and emails.
A coalition of anti-fracking groups that includes New Yorkers Against Fracking and Catskill Mountainkeeper released an open letter to the former U.S. Senator from New York, stating: “So is it really so great that we are expanding extreme energy extraction more than ever? No, it’s not. That’s a backward, 20th century belief, and it’s time for you to stop buying and touting the line from big oil & gas.”
Larry Bennett, the communications director for Brewery Ommegang, said Clinton’s comments could “give cover” for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to authorize hydraulic fracturing in New York, while alienating upstate New Yorkers toward Clinton should she launch a bid for the White House in 2016.