Governor Andrew Cuomo was greeted by hundreds of protesters as he arrived to open this year's edition of the New York State Fair. YNN's Bill Carey says hydrofracking was at the heart of the demonstration.
NEW YORK STATE FAIR – The biggest mystery surrounding the opening day of the New York State Fair turned out to be where the formal opening ceremony would take place. The presence of large numbers of anti-fracking protesters saw the Governor bypassing the normal gathering near the front gate and the speeches. Instead, a brief ribbon cutting followed by a quick fairgrounds tour, with protesters in tow.
“I was talking to the girls about it as we were walking around. It's one of the joys of the job, I guess. Being joined by protesters on one issue or the other,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The protesters represented a wide range of groups that are demanding that Cuomo step in to halt any state plan that involves hydrofracking in the search for natural gas.
“No town wants fracking. And no town should be sacrificed so that Chesapeake and Exxon can make another $57 billion in profits next year,” said Joseph Heath, attorney-activist.
The governor's appearance, here at the Fair, and the protests associated with that appearance by anti-fracking forces come as reports continue to circulate that New York State has already made its decision on the future of hydrofracking. The reports say fracking will be allowed in a handful of Southern Tier counties. The governor continues to say the reports of a decision are premature.
Cuomo said, “We have no decision. The DEC is dong their work. I said make the decision when the decision is ready. So there is no hard timetable.”
Pro-fracking groups argue the procedure is safe and that it could mean a big boost in economic activity and jobs. The opponents say the procedure jeopardizes the state's environment.
“Don't squander it. Don't pollute it. Don't mess it up because you can't afford to fix it,” said Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner.
It is an issue that seems to have little in the way of a middle ground.
“What I've been trying to do is, we have a lot of emotion on the issue and my point from the beginning, from the campaign, has been, let's put the emotion aside and let's get some more information. And let's make the decision based on the science, not on the emotion,” Cuomo said.
But as the Governor walked the fairgrounds, it was emotion that carried the day.