Elaborate costumes, catchy signs and an environmental cause joined hundreds of protestors together at Hudson River Park to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo a clear message: “Ban Fracking Now!”
Unfortunately, Cuomo wasn’t around to hear it. He skipped out on his evening at the New York City Wine & Food Festival on Saturday, Oct. 19 where protestors planned on reminding him of the dangerous effects hydrofracking would have on New York’s food and beverage supply as well as the threat they pose to health and the environment.
This protest was one of more than 200 events taking place around the world on Oct. 19 as part of the second annual Global Frackdown, a worldwide day of action against fracking initiated by the consumer protection group, Food and Water Watch.
Protestors outside the event as well as the six who were able to get inside the building by donations from anti-fracking supporters, want Cuomo to ban this controversial gas drilling method permanently statewide.
“Hey hey, Cuomo, hydrofracking’s got to go!” Angry protestors yelled from the pier where Cuomo was supposed to be.
“We want to make sure fracking does not come to New York,” New York Public Interest Research Group project coordinator, Tiffany Brown said.
Like many anti-fracking advocates, Brown worries about the negative effects hydrofracking can have on individuals and the environment. “It can cause contamination and air pollution,” Brown said.
Many protestors share the same concerns. “I came to find out more about the dangers of fracking,” Oliver Yorke, 20-year-old junior and NYPRIG member said.
“Cuomo, Cuomo you can’t hide, fracking equals petrocide,” the crowd chanted while some people held signs that read, “food not frack.”
“This is the biggest environmental fight of our generation,” Brown said as she walked through the crowd.
According to a 2011 Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency, notes, “there may be opportunities for wastewater contamination of drinking water resources both below and above ground.”
The EPA also mentions that, “the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluid chemical additives into targeted geologic formation could pose a risk to human health.”
However, fracking advocates like America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association believe fracking will make the United States “energy independent,” and that it has the potential to lead the U.S. to big bucks like it has in other states such as Pa., W.Va and N.D.
“Pennsylvania is on track to produce roughly three trillion cubic feet of gas this year. That’s enough to supply about 10 percent of what the entire country consumes annually,” Marie Cusick, reporter for National Public Radio.
Despite the benefits that fracking may have, NYPIRG members are committed to keeping N.Y. frack-free and are willing to do whatever they can to stall Cuomo’s efforts. “Cuomo has the power to keep it out; it’s not just us clip boarding and tabling,” Gabe Recchio, NYPIRG project coordinator said.
An aggravated Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, an organization that ensures the safety and accessibility of beverages and foods addresses an absent Cuomo, “when are you going to stand up and make an unequivocal decision about hydrofracking? Why are you so cheap to buy?”
Hauter thanked the crowd for their devotion to anti-fracking and encouraged them to continue in the fight against fracking.
“This has been going on for two years . . . your hard work and dedication is keeping the government from moving forward with fracking,” Hauter said.
Soon after, Rachel Schragis, a 27-year-old NYC based artist has protestors form a circle and pass around a lightly decorated scroll to illustrate how all human beings are connected through their grievances.
“This is about unity in the climate movement . . . we are all in this together,” Schragis said as protestors hummed and passed the scroll slowly from person to person.
Upon completion of this exercise, protestors were asked to trade in their anti-fracking signs for meditation cards with bodies of water that could be affected by hydrofracking drawn and labeled on them.
Protestors walked up Chelsea Piers with their cards only to be stopped by police officers and park rangers soon after when they tried to enter their park.
Despite this incident and Cuomo’s absence at the protest, one protestor remains hopeful.
“The success of this movement is great…it’s a David and Goliath struggle,” associate nursing professor at City Tech, Margaret Rafferty said.