The anti-hydrofracking movement was out in force during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address Wednesday. Central New Yorkers who oppose controversial gas drilling method believe their continued protests are making a difference.
For those who oppose fracking, like Coleen Kattau from Cortland County, these pilgrimages to Albany are effective.
"The decision hasn’t been made about hydrofracking, because of people’s protests,” Kattau said.
For four years, the Cuomo administration has put off making a decision whether to lift the moratorium that stops drilling companies from using the hydraulic fracturing method of extracting natural gas in New York state. Until he makes that decision, people like Emily Bishop of Syracuse will be dogging him, especially during this election year.
"I think that's the most important thing, is if we threaten his election with our force, I think that can be very influential to the governor, that New Yorkers keep showing up and keep demanding a ban on fracking in New York state," Bishop said.
Bishop has been to these State of the State rallies before. What strikes her is the fact that more and more people are joining her.
“I feel like every time we get on a bus, more people get on the bus because of our outreach efforts in central New York," Bishop said. "Especially landowners who are affected by the scoping of gas and oil companies, and reaching out to them and telling them that they don’t have to do that, that there are options, that there’s a community that supports them and there’s a whole state that wants our water to be clean.”
She says the lack of a decision is proof they are getting under the governor’s skin.
“Because every time we go, it just builds a sense of community and the more we go, the more people show up, the more tracking is delayed, the more we feel powerful," Bishop said. "So it’s not frustrating at all, it’s really empowering.”
The decision to allow oil companies to use fracking in New York state is a politically touchy one, pitting environmentalists against business interests, which contend the gas drilling industry would be a huge boost to some economically depressed areas of New York state. Cuomo has said he’ll take his time in making a decision, and is currently waiting for a report on the health effects of hydrofracking from the New York state Department of Health.