Despite restrictions, anti-fracking protest attracts large crowd

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No, they didn’t line the Empire State Plaza concourse this year, chanting and wielding signs as lawmakers and state officials walked to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address.

But a large throng of anti-fracking protesters stood near the entrance to Cuomo’s speech on Wednesday, calling on him to unequivocally ban shale-gas drilling as State of the State attendees walked into the state convention center.

“On a day when all eyes in the state are on Albany, we want to remind Governor Cuomo that New Yorkers won’t back off until he protects us by banning fracking,” said Alex Beauchamp, northeast region director of Food & Water Watch.

The protesters stayed in a large, gated area within the concourse, which made it difficult to estimate the total attendance. There were at least several hundred; organizers say there were more than 2,000 at its peak. There were also a few dozen dozen gun-rights activists who were protesting the SAFE Act, the gun-control laws passed a year ago.

Last year, the protesters formed a long line between the Capitol and the convention center, lining the walkway that nearly everyone walked to get to Cuomo’s address. But a series of tourism-themed displays prevented that from happening this year.

Wes Gillingham, program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, said the large showing represents the strength of fracking opponents.

“Why are all these people here? Because we love New York,” Gillingham said. “We love our communities. We love our farms and our forests, and we do not want that to be destroyed by fracking and a greedy industry.”

To the surprise of few, Cuomo did not make any mention of hydrofracking and shale-gas drilling in his 70-minute speech. Cuomo’s administration continues to weigh whether to lift a de facto moratorium on high-volume fracking in the Southern Tier.

A joint statement from the heads of three Binghamton-area organizations — the Joint Landowners Coalition, the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce and the Broome County Farm Bureau — expressed disappointment with Cuomo’s lack of a fracking mention.

“We are disappointed that the State of the State address once again failed to mention natural gas development as an integral part of a comprehensive plan for Upstate’s economic growth,” the statement read. “Developing natural gas resources is essential to create long-term jobs and economic opportunity in the Southern Tier.”

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  1. VICTOR fURMAN on

    The truth is the statement “There where at least several hundred” is a lot more factual then Wes Gillingham’s statement of two thousand. Action News in Bingahmton reported a few hundred, YNN reported only 65 people from Broome County boarded an early morning bus to Albany a number dwarfed by the 350 people who boarde3d busses from Broome County last year in favor of drilling. Even with a last minute video plea from Sandra Stiengrabber begging for support telling all who listened not to let the cold air dampen your spirits that they would br in the warmth of the natural gas heated concourse in Albany.As a pro gas activist that attends many of the anti events I an happy too say as their false claims are debunked by NY’s own water study saying 15 percent of water Wells in NY have explosive levels of methane in them, and are not located near drilling sites, as well as sixty minutes reporting that 21 taxpayer financed cleantech “green energy” projects went belly up after billions in federal subsidies were spent, The ant gas numbers are dwindling and damage control is Wes Gillingham exaggerating the numbers so he doesn’t lose his financing.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/preview-the-cleantech-crash/

  2. Any report I have read indicates the the pro-gassers were not going and were not there. So it would appear that those who oppose fracking won the day just as we are winning the war.

  3. @vic you have a funny way of counting, maybe you should have used your toes too. First of all, there were at least 15 buses, of about 60 each, many more car-pooled as well as local residents from the Cap Dist. Putting the number well over 1500, but that’s really irrelevant, since even if ONLY 1 person showed up, that’s more than were there to support fracking. So I guess using your math, NY supports a Ban on Fracking, which is true. Also, last year, there were hardly 350 of you there, you all fit in that postage stamp of an area, occupied this year by the anti-safe act folks, who could only muster about 40 people.

  4. VICTOR fURMAN on

    We… I see your afraid to post your real name… I would guess it’s Wes defending his lies or perhaps Isaac Gorn doing it for him. Perhaps it is you who needs to use the fingers and toes… 15 busses at 60 each is only 900 people and tha’s if those busses were at capicity which is very doubtful. And we did have people there so we could count and report on the dwindling numbers of gas using hypocrites that would show to prove themselves as such
    VICTOR FURMAM

  5. If as some posters believe that they are winning, please explain why Gov Cuomo directed NYSERDA to retain the USGS to have a now completed 16 month study of water wells in the Southern Tier? Answer – Cuomo plans on using this study as a baseline of water well condition prior to fracking starting. The study found that methane is common in the water and 15% of the wells had so much methane that they required remediation. Frack Now!

  6. i ninety-five on

    Don’t worry if NY doesn’t allow fracking, PA can pump it out right from underneath us.

    And I’m sure Saudi Arabia will be very happen, you know the county that supplied most of the 9/11 hijackers? Iran will be happy too along with every other Middle Eastern county.

  7. As a very passionate anti- fracker who has attended every rally that I possibly could, there WERE close to 2000 anti-frackers at the Governor’s address , and I never saw a single person in favor of fracking. Contrary to your inaccurate assessment, Victor, the more people learn about the dangers associated with hydrofracking, the MORE antifrackers there are. Our numbers are growing as more and more SCIENTIFIC data shows how dangerous and destructive fracking is.

  8. lOOK ROBERTS

    YOU CAN COME ON TO ANY BLOG YOU WANT AND LIE BUT WE HAD PEOPLE IN ALBANY COUNTING, BY WE’S COMMENT/CONFESSION ABOVE ONLY 15 BUSSES SHOWED UP AND i BET NOT ALL WERE AT CAPACITY. WE IS ONE OF YOURS EITHER GILLINGHAM, GORN, OR WILEY… YOUR EDUCATION N THE DANGERS OF FRACKING IS FICTIONAL MOVIES IE GASLAND, AND WEB SITES YOUR LIKES CREATED TO SPREAD THE LIE. YOU NEVER ANSWERED MY QUESTION ON WHY YOU HAVEN’T RETUREND OVER 200,000.00 YOU GOT FOR LEASING YOU LAND TO THE GAS COMPANIES. OF FOR THAT MATTER WHY YOU HAVN’T DONATED IT TO A HEALTH STUDY.

  9. Because HVHF would industrialize the landscape in the Binghamton area, it would be detrimental to the types of businesses that are currently in the area and that we are working to attract. Traditions is bidding for a casino; I’m sure it does not want a drill pad with attendant traffic, noise, dust, emissions, etc. nearby. The Southern Tier Economic Development Council projects range from hi-tech to agriculture to tourism to health care to education. Many of these are incompatible with widespread drilling. With the exisiting Solar Lab at Binghamton Universty and the Smart Energy center and High Tech incubator being built, the future of the Southern Tier is in renewable energy, not chasing after polluting fossil fuels.

  10. There was a huge turnout and this “distraction move” of trying to make an issue about attendance is beside the point. (Just the buses alone brought in over 500!) I was deeply touched that a man came here from Romania and a family from Vermont and folks from PA to show solidarity with this movement!

    The issue of the rally remains: which way are we moving for the future growth and health of NY and it’s citizens? A toxic industrialized gas/oil industry takeover or wide spread economic development with renewable energy along with tourism, agriculture, micro-technologies, and a myriad blend of businesses that compliment each other across the state.

    We have a right to fair representation in state government. The potential steam roller affect of the gas industry $$$ makes me shudder not only because of the environmental issues but because of the destruction of the democratic process. Fighting the largest industries on the globe is not an easy task. But we are undaunted.

    The grassroots movement to keep HVHF out of NY is growing. The reports of contamination and harm are being made public and education and awareness are reaching people far and wide. We are here for our future. There is no turning back.

  11. Barbara

    it is not a grass roots movement when your 100 organizations receive tens upon tens of millions of dollars from Park – Heinz – Rockerfeller – Artist Against Fracking and many other foundations. That being said it is your organizers who have been saying numbers matter and the paid leadership is fabricating them as our plant on a bus took pictures of the busses as they unloaded, one bus only had 18 people on it!. The crowd was reported to be in the hundreds by several news agencies, the only ones reporting in the thousands are the ones the paid organizers told them that was the count. And when you go to our web site the pictures and video will speak for itself 99.9 percent of the argument against drilling is a lie, or at best unfounded accusations. with the biggest lie being your efforts are a grassroots movement. Truth is your paid lobbyist and if not getting a check then your simply a sheep for those who are

  12. Those who are braying about the “thousands” that showed up, consider this: This war against landowners has been going on for 6 yrs. Divide 6 yrs into 2,000 and you get a paltry number of which most are repeats year after year, Steingraber and her ranting, Vera Scroggins, Craig Stevens, and Ray Kemble all PENNSYLVANIA RESIDENTS! How many more out of staters were in Albany??? Your movement is a hoax and farce and Cuomo knows it.

  13. I have to wonder if Mr. Furman has seen any TV ads or full page newspaper ads from any of these organizations or individuals who oppose fracking. Fact is, we cannot hope to match the money the industry spends on its false “safety” propaganda.

    Most of us who are involved in the effort to prevent fracking in NYS are doing so on our own dime and that includes travel, phone calls, letter writing, reseach, and testifying before DEC and EPA. If we have extra money, we are donating it to some of the organizations Furman rails at. I have met probably 40 to 50 people involved in this effort: teachers, retirees, housewives, nurses, business people, farmers. To the best of my knowledge only three or four are compensated in any way and certainly not well compensated like Brad Gill and the other false prophets.

  14. Hugh Kimball. I presume that you are aware of the fact that hydraulic fracturing has been taking place in New York for years – check the DEC web site. Over 14,000 active wells, 90+ percent fractured. And do not EVER confuse the landowners with the gas companies. We don’t run ads on television either. Those dirty foundations may not run ads, but they DO fund supposed ‘grassroots’ campaigns – look at the Park Foundation 990 form it files with the IRS. They are every bit as involved as the gas companies. If they were truly for renewable energy they would use the millions they funnel through these gullible organizatons to fund actual projects, but the truth is, they don’t want those either. They don’t represent you, me or anybody but themselves and the other one percenters.

  15. I came by bus and we had 35 out of 45 seats filled, we came with the first bus which was filled to capacity. I didn’t like how we were corralled into small areas so I walked around with my signs. There were a lot of people doing the same thing. I tried to do a head count and got up to 1500, but it was later on and people had already left, so I know there was at least 1500. The people that were there came from all over NYS. They were retired people, part time working people (like me) there were grandmothers, moms and young people too. It was very heartening to hear them all say the same thing, our water is our life. And we need to save our most precious resources. Our water and air. Peace be with us all and our land, air and water…..

  16. Jao… Nice try but its not true. You were instructed to stay together to look big. Did you break rank?

    Hugh – The gas companies represent themselves not NY landowners with there multi million dollar commercial campaign. The landowners get nothing from them unlike the millions the anti receive from Park and other foundations fighting fracking. Infact I think the commercials are lousy, they only tout the benifit of drilling where drilling takes place and thats not NY. If they were funding the landowners the commercials would target the anti drilling campaign and what a bunch of hypocrites and provocators of mis-information, The commercials would be about the BS delays and how Cuomo is told what to do by Kennedy a man that has no respect for Cuomo anyway.

  17. And I did walk all around the Concourse and actually got to see my elected official go into the speech. I asked him how I could go in next time and he said I could get an invite. So it was well worth it walking around the whole concourse. I learned something.