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Both Sides of Fracking Debate

May Protest When Obama Visits

Russ Honicker, Cooperstown, installs anti-fracking signs along Susquehanna Avenue on Tuesday, May 20 ahead of President Obama's visit
Russ Honicker, Cooperstown, installs anti-fracking signs along Susquehanna Avenue on Tuesday, May 20 ahead of President Obama’s visit



Along with the gawkers and the hand-shake hopefuls, it seems protesters on both sides of the fracking issue may be lining village streets when President Obama comes to town on Thursday, May 22 to speak on the importance of tourism in the nation’s economy.

Otsego 2000 has organized a rally outside the Baseball Hall of Fame starting at 11:30 a.m. and will include members of Sustainable Otsego, Middlefield Neighbors, Citizen Action and other anti-fracking groups.

“Fracking has no part of sustainability,” said Julie Huntsman, an Otsego Town Board member and co-coordinator of Elected Officials to Protect New York.  “It is devastating to our wineries, our breweries, our tourism – everything that makes Upstate New York special.”

“We want to send a strong message, but we want to be respectful,” she said.

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York will also be mounting a protest to “let president Obama know that New York lacks his leadership on energy matters and the rights and benefits being enjoyed throughout the rest of America are still being denied to NY citizens,” according to a press release sent out by Dan Fitzsimmons, coalition president.

“Everyone is planning a presence,” said Anne Marie Garti, East Meredith, an activist with the Stop the Pipeline group.  “We’re just trying to figure out when he’s coming.  I don’t know if I’ll be with a

group, but I will most definitely be trying to see our president.”

The President’s arrival and plans for his visit are being kept under wraps for now, making a formal protest more difficult to plan.

“It’s going to be somewhat spontaneous,” said Adrian  Kuzminski, Fly Creek, moderator of Sustainable Otsego.  “People know he’s coming, so it’s safe to anticipate that some number of people will show up to make a point that he should change his policy.”

And both Huntsman and Kuzminski also plan to be out there on the line. “Short of an opportunity to meet with him, I plan on standing with my friends and neighbors,” said Huntsman.

When the President visited Binghamton University last August, anti-fracking groups from across the state convened on the campus to make their message known.

“A lot of people are interested and people will come to make whatever statements they want to make,” said Kuzminski.



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