Saturday (Oct. 19) was an international day of action to ban hydrofracking. The event, called Global Frackdown, united the Capital Region’s residents alongside 200 other towns and cities across the world.
Albany’s Townsend Park attracted a rally of nearly 100 people that all exuded a clear passion to make sure Gov. Andrew Cuomo would officially ban the controversial act. The crowd ranged from organizers and activists, to concerned locals who all received an equal opportunity to voice their experiences and convictions.
Betty Head, a volunteer organizer for the website MoveOn.org, stated her concern that fracking is environmentally disastrous. “Today is to keep the issue front and center in front of the public, as well as our government,” said Head.
Many contend that the process of releasing natural gasses through fracking has been linked to water contamination and climate change. At Saturday’s Frackdown, it was evident that this was one of the biggest public concerns.
“The issue of safe drinkable water will not go away as along as the industry is allowed to plunder our underground natural recourses,” said Head.
“No Fracking Way,” was chanted as activists marched down the streets of Albany.
Participants held their signs high that read “Honk to Ban Fracking!” and “Fracking Is Immoral,” at hopes of receiving support by those passing by.
“We are in a crisis, our planet is in peril,” shouted activist Liz Moran.
“It is our opinion that it can’t be done safely, and we’re doing our job by promoting that,” she later stated.
Although those who attended Saturday’s rally evidently were opposed to fracking, that is not the case for all of New York, where overall public opinion is split. A Siena Institute research poll found that hydrofracking is opposed by 43 percent of New York’s population, whereas 38 percent support it. In the last month, this is a 2-percent decrease of those opposed. This has put New York in a politically unique position.
The New York State Department of Health is reviewing proposed drilling guidelines to determine whether they would protect public health. Cuomo has yet to signal a position, and his administration has frequently delayed a decision.
“New Yorkers want real reform, and expect and deserve the officials they put in office to be working to serve the public interest, not their own,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement released by Cuomo’s press office.
Cuomo has repeatedly stated that a decision will be based on “facts and science,” not the “emotion” that has begun to dominate the debate. Although the commission (which has not met for more than a year and a half) that Cuomo set up to examine fracking can’t seem to make a decision, Cuomo has previously stated that a decision will be made before the 2014 election.
Head believes that not only is Cuomo a smart politician, but that he is buying his time.
“He’s hoping that he can get in under the wire without any incidents that will mar his presidential ambitions,” she said. “I think it is all politics with him.”
However, the trending belief at the Frackdown was that Cuomo’s delay is a sign that those taking part in the protest against hydrofracking are winning the battle.
“The fact that we haven’t seen the commission get together is further delay. Any further delay is progress,” said Moran.
Fracking and extreme energy extraction are taking place in countries worldwide, which is why the movement is global.
According to a press release from globalfrackdown.org, the movement has upheld bans on fracking in Bulgaria and France, despite intensive pressure from industry. The organization has also spurred the introduction of new laws for assessing unconventional gas impacts in Australia.
And in New York, eventually, a decision will have to be made.
Organizers of Friday’s rally are persistent in their efforts, and have confirmed further protests in Albany at the end of October.
Albany activist Sandy Steubing believes that in order for the little people to be heard, they must continuously protest. By getting in their faces, she said, Cuomo or Obama will know that if they decide to go along with the fracking it’s going to have a huge impact on the smaller communities.
“This is just one of a long ongoing serious of demonstrations that we’re going to have to have,” said Steubing.