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NY Activists' pre-SOS Rally: 'Ban Fracking Now!'

More than a thousand protesters chanting "Ban Fracking Now!" crowded into Albany's Empire State Plaza concourse where lawmakers had to pass on their way to Governor Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech. Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was there and files this report.

New York has been looking into hydraulic fracturing for more than four years: a moratorium was declared in 2010 to allow regulators to conduct an environmental review and develop rules.  Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't explicitly mention fracking in his State of the State address - which didn't surprise Frack Action Communication Director  John Armstrong.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber of New Yorkers Against Fracking takes issue with a leaked document written by New York’s Department of Health in early 2012 that says fracking could be conducted safely if certain regulations are followed. She is calling on the Governor to shed transparency on all fracking data gathered to date.

Pete Seeger, at left
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Pete Seeger with Frack Action's John Armstrong at the Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany, January 9, 2013.

The rally was highlighted by appearances from some of the celebrities on the front lines against fracking; Pete Seeger, Natalie Merchant and Debra Winger.  The activists were satisfied that they delivered a clear message calling for the governor to reject fracking, implement a statewide ban, and be a leader in clean, renewable energy for New York and the nation.

Dominic Frongillo is Deputy Supervisor and Councilor of Caroline, in Tompkins County, where 55% of town land is leased for drilling, and where fracking has been banned.

New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau was not available for comment but issued a statement saying safe natural gas development will provide thousands and thousands of good jobs throughout the Marcellus Shale - quote - “We remain confident the Governor recognizes the need to move forward with safe natural gas development, and respect his timeline. But there is no question that for the State of the Southern Tier to be as strong as the people there deserve, hydraulic fracturing is the clear answer.”

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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