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Local News

August 23, 2013

Local fracking foes protest to Obama

Fly Creek resident Julie Huntsman and real estate agent Kelly Branigan of Middlefield were hoping President Barack Obama would take note Thursday night that many upstate New Yorkers oppose hydrofracking as they stood in the rain with some 200 other demonstrators outside a Syracuse school.

“We want him to think about it, because he’s got it wrong on fracking,” Huntsman, who is also an Otsego Town Board member, said into her mobile phone after taking a call from The Daily Star. “He’s a very smart president, but all he knows is what his advisers are telling him, and they’re listening to the gas industry.”

According to press-pool feeds released to the media by the White House, Obama stopped at a Rochester outdoor cafe on his way to Syracuse and noted First Lady Michelle Obama was not traveling with him because she was caring for the family’s new puppy, a Portuguese Water Dog named Sunny.

Huntsman, a veterinarian, said if Obama looked into the risks of shale gas drilling, he’d learn that pets and farm animals have suffered injuries as a result of coming into contact with contaminants from fracking. She said to protect both animals and humans, Obama must close the “Halliburton loophole,” which exempts the gas industry from stringent regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Outside the Syracuse school, the protesters only got a glimpse off the bus carrying Obama to the destination for his speech on education, although Huntsman said some demonstrators indicated he waved to them as the vehicle wheezed past them.

Following a speech at the University at Buffalo and the stop at Magnolia’s Deli and Cafe in Rochester, Obama pulled into the Women’s Rights National Park in Seneca Falls, the site of a landmark suffragette convention in 1848. Then the motorcade headed to the Syracuse school, where White House staffers and the traveling press corps were greeted with freshly delivered meals from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, one of the Salt City’s most famous eateries.

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