Scores of gas drilling foes from Otsego, Delaware, Schoharie and Chenango counties are expected to converge on Albany today for what is being billed as a crucial rally against the permitting of hydraulic fracturing in New York.
Local opponents of hydrofracking said they want to send a clear message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the controversial drilling technique has not been adequately vetted by the Department of Environmental Conservation and that the movement against it will only mushroom if his administration permits it. In June, the New York Times reported the state is poised to allow hydrofracking in five "struggling" counties near the Pennsylvania border.
Commenting on the coalition of organizations working to stop fracking, Otsego County Rep. John Kosmer, D-Fly Creek, said, "It's getting bigger and we have momentum." Kosmer said he expects a large turnout of local drilling foes to join the Albany rally today.
Kosmer argued that few New Yorkers outside of those with vested interests in the energy industry believe hydrofracking can be done safely and would stimulate the economy. "The other side is all smoke and mirrors," said Kosmer, elected to the Board of Representatives last year when the drilling issue took center stage in political debates.
James Smith, spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, said the industry is optimistic that Cuomo will give the green light to fracking.
"We're going to assume that the governor will live up to his word and this decision will be based on science and fact," Smith said.
Of the planned protest, he said, "These folks have the right to their opinions, but they are very wrong on the facts."
IOGA recently launched an advertising campaign promoting what it calls "safe and responsible shale gas development in New York."
Today's rally is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Albany's Riverfront Park. From there, the demonstrators plan to walk to the state Capitol.