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As Obama Visits Upstate New York, the Fracking Debate Takes Center Stage

That’s exactly why protesters are likely to be out in force tomorrow in Buffalo, and even more so when Obama continues his visit to Binghamton, NY. Fracking remains controversial throughout the U.S., thanks to concerns over potential water contamination and pollution from wells, as well as fears that the new supplies of natural gas will bind the country more permanently to carbon-heavy fossil fuels. Ground zero for that emotional debate is New York state, which has both a massive potential reserve of shale gas and a determined community of environmentalists and activists working to ensure that fracking never happens in the Empire State. “We’re going to be present in Binghamton by the hundreds, if not the thousands,” Walter Hang, the head of Ithaca-based Toxic Targeting, told WNYC.

Anti-Frackers Respond to Cuomo's Comments

With Governor Cuomo making positive comments about the economic benefits of fracking in advance of President Obama's visit to Binghamton Friday, reaction continues to come in.

Protests planned for President’s visit

Toxics Targeting and Citizen Action are joining forces to call on thousands of people to raise their voices about the hydrofracking debate.

“We’re all going to show up and confront the president that it is simply irresponsible to support shale fracking without assessing the health risks and adopting a pollution liability protection,” said Walter Hang, Toxics Targeting President.

Obama heads to center of NY fracking debate

Walter Hang, the owner of Ithaca-based Toxics Targeting and a well-known organizer in the Southern Tier, said he's focusing his efforts on the Binghamton University stop.

In an email Monday to thousands of fracking critics, Hang said the Obama visit will "dwarf all others in importance."

"We're working with as many groups as we possibly can to make this a national event on shale fracking," Hang said. "We're going to be putting out the call to action to groups in Pennsylvania and Ohio and all over New York."

Obama to be Greeted by Anti Fracking Protesters In Upstate New York

President Obama is planning on visiting upstate New York next week to promote an education plan. But whenever a major politician visits the region, the issue of fracking is often on the agenda, whether they like it or not.

President Obama’s planned trip to Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton will focus on the importance of getting an affordable college education.

But activists opposed to hydro fracking want the topic of natural gas drilling to be on the agenda as well.

“We’re going to be present in Binghamton by the hundreds if not the thousands,” says Walter Hang, with the Ithaca based Toxics Targeting.

Hang says protesters are expected at the President’s other stops, as well, but the Southern Tier, which is at the epicenter of the gas drilling debate, will feature the largest demonstration.

Nearly 400 Personalized Communications Sent to New York Fracking Advisory Panel Request Halt to Secret DOH Shale Impact Review

Excerpted below are personalized statements selected from more than 300 communications sent since 7/1/13 to members of the New York State Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and DEC and DOH Commissioners Joe Martens and Nirav R. Shah were cc'd.

Each communication reiterates the same request that the Department of Health a) halt its Review of New York's shale fracking "health impact analysis" conducted in secrecy without any public input and b) conduct a comprehensive "Public Health Impact Study" to resolve all health concerns about Marcellus Shale fracking once and for all.

The full text of the standard letter is posted at:

Examples of personalized communications sent to Governor Cuomo requesting a "Public Health Impact Study" of shale gas fracking:

My name is Stephanie. I write you this email today because this is the only way I have found to contribute to efforts which I honestly believe are necessary to ensure the best opportunities for New Yorker's health and well-being in the long-term. I am so very concerned that we will look back on fracking in 30 years and wonder what the heck we were thinking, rushing into an unsustainable and self-destructive, polluting practice with no long-term benefits, only short-term financial and political ones. Please--seriously--please do contact me about any better ways to get involved in this process, if there are any. I don't know everything about this issue, but based on what I have read and heard, I believe it is my duty to get involved on some level.


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