Anti-fracking advocates rallied in Albany Monday to try to convince Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban the natural gas drilling process in New York. Meanwhile, a State Senator says he believes any final decision will be once again delayed.
The advocates included actress Debra Winger, filmmaker Josh Fox and environmental leader Bill McKibben, as well as activists from communities across New York’s Southern Tier. They asked Governor Cuomo to tell his environmental officials not to go ahead with hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, in New York.
Actress Debra Winger appealed to Cuomo’s sense of legacy, and asked him to rethink his plans, and “push the rest button.” While author and activist Bill McKibben said the fracking decision represents a “gut check” moment for the governor, like when he fought for legalizing same sex marriage.
“This is his second gut check moment,” McKibben said. “Will he stand up to the richest industry on earth?”
State Senator Tony Avella, a Queens Democrat who has been a leading voice against fracking, entreated Cuomo to think of his own political future if he allows fracking.
“Governor Cuomo, if you allow hydrofracking in this state, you own it,” Avella said.
Multiple news sources, including public radio, reported that Cuomo was soon to permit fracking on a limited basis in communities that want fracking. Cuomo said early in the summer that the decision was coming “shortly” and that he would respect “home rule” in any possible plan, but lately, the governor has pulled back. Speaking in New York City, he said that the decision will be based on “science,” and that there is no “timetable.” The governor made similar remarks while attending the state fair in Syracuse.
Senator Avella sees the governor’s comments as a positive sign.
“It’s the grassroots effort that’s caused him to slow up again,” Avella said. But he believes that, even with the rallies and protests against fracking, Cuomo will eventually approve the process.
A spokesman for the gas industry called the protests “gimmicks, stunts and street theater.”
Independent Oil and Gas Association spokesman James Smith says the antics “trivialize” the debate.