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May 29, 2014

Protesters line streets with messages on fracking, SAFE Act

Protesters rallied last Thursday to send President Barack Obama this message: Reject fracking and develop renewable sources of energy.

But the president stuck to his scheduled private meeting with invited guests inside the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where he delivered an address on the impact and importance of tourism.

Nonetheless, several demonstrators said though Obama didn’t appear publicly, their message was out and the hours-long rally was time well-spent.

“We’re fighting for a cause,” said Michael Federov of the town of Maryland. He and his wife, Kristina, started Maryland Residents Against Drilling, and she added that they are disappointed that Obama hasn’t taken a strong stance on climate change.

They were among more than 100 people opposing hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. The drilling procedure uses water, sand and chemicals under high pressure to coax natural gas and oil from shale deposits deep underground.

Opposition to the procedure is based on health and environmental concerns, while supporters raise issues of land rights and market demand for natural gas.

On Thursday, friends of hydrofracturing and another group opposed to the SAFE Act that regulates guns also were in Cooperstown to rally support.

And pedestrian traffic near the Hall of Fame also included sightseers and children eating ice cream cones. Skies were partly cloudy, with warm spring temperatures, but no showers or thunderstorms developed.

A few blocks away from the anti-frackers, about 20 to 25 demonstrators with the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, based in Binghamton, rallied in support of landowners rights, freedom of speech and hydrofracturing, according to Victor Furman, field director. The group had two 10-foot long signs, including one that said, “New York Supports Natural Gas Drilling.”

About 10 people welcomed the group, which he said was a pleasant surprise because he had thought all of Cooperstown was opposed to fracking. The demonstrators were active from about 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., he said.

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