Here’s the early report from Gannett’s Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton on the DEC’s hydrofracking hearing, which got underway at 1 p.m.
The Forum was packed today for the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s hearing on its proposed guidelines for hydraulic fracturing.
Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan, Endwell Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Ithaca Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, all Democrats, all took the mike at the beginning of the hearing, expressing their concerns about hydrofracking. Lifton — who exceeded the 3-minute time limit, which audience members noted with shouts of “Time!” — called for the DEC to rescind its proposed guidelines.
While the first half-dozen speakers were against gas drilling, others — including Broome and Tioga county legislators — spoke of drilling’s economic benefits and the potential for revitalizing the region. An anti-fracking protester was escorted out of the theater for a banner.
Even before the hearing kicked off at 1 p.m., both drilling opponents and advocates took their message to the streets. Two areas on Washington Street were set aside for demonstrators on either side of the debate.
Large numbers of supporters and opponents of natural-gas drilling gathered outside the Broome County Forum this morning in advance of the hearing.
The demonstrations, while noisy at times, were peaceful. Supporters and opponents were kept separated from each other by police barricades.
Using amplification devices, the groups yelled slogans at each other, including “Go the frack away” on one side of the issue and “Drill baby drill” on the other side.
“It’s not bad. They’re just yelling back and forth,” said Sgt. D.W. Edwards, with the Binghamton Police Bureau, one of a small contingent of police and security guards on duty outside the forum.
Both sides also held rallies at different times outside the forum.
Protest signs were very much in evidence. Many supporters wore yellow t-shirts promoting jobs that, they said, would be created by the natural gas industry. One the other side, Abram Loeb, 45, of Afton, Chenango County, came wearing a pretend yellow Hazmat suit to demonstrate against toxic chemicals, he said, would be created by fracking.
A line of people extended down the block as they waited to get into the Forum. Protesters had to leave their signs outside the hearing before it began.