Activists protest outside Obama speech in Syracuse

Aug 23, 2013

Protesters against hydrofracking, the controversial gas drilling process, followed President Barack Obama to Syracuse from his first stop in Buffalo on Thursday.

"Ban fracking now! Obama! Ban fracking now! Obama!"

The voices of about one hundred protesters were united in their opposition to hydrofracking. Julianne Skinner came from Montrose, Pa., an area where fracking is allowed.

"They [gas companies] didn't exercise caution," Skinner said. "They were in there, do it quick, do it dirty, get our money and let's go."  

In New York, where fracking is currently not allowed, Andra Leimanis is worried about just that for her and her parents' home in Lafayette.

"The traffic issues from fracking, the pollution issues from fracking, both air and water, and the waste products that would be deposited somewhere," Leimanis said.

Ursula Rozum, the Green Party candidate for Congress in 2012, also came to show her support and voice her opinion about the president.

"There are people in Central New York that are opposed to lots of his policies," Rozum said. "He's been promoting gas drilling across the country. That is not a solution to the climate crisis, it makes it worse."

During the president's speech, Rozum and another person heckled the president, protesting the 35-year prison sentence for Army Private Bradley Manning who leaked classified military documents.

"He has the power to pardon Army whistle blower Bradley Manning, and he hasn't done that," Rozum said "So there's a lot of reasons to be unhappy with Obama's policies."

Rozum and one other were taken out of the room after they interrupted the president's speech.

Karen Moreau is the executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council. She says hydrofracking protesters' environmental concerns has no significant legitimacy.

"Is there risk in any energy development? Absolutely. Are those risks those that can be addressed and mitigated? Absolutely. There's mandatory disclosure required in New York State of any franking chemicals and its already public information in Pennsylvania."