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Presidential visit to Cooperstown lightning rod for fracking debate

small american flags planted in green grass next to concrete sidewalk
Credit Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail
Village of Cooperstown welcomes President Obama to the National Baseball Hall of Fame

President Obama and the national press descended on the tiny historic village of Cooperstown today Thursday. His presence also brought out protesters both for and against the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

two men carry yellow banner with green letter saying 'NY Support Natural Gas'
Credit Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail
Victor Furman of the Joint Land Owners Coalition of New York and friend carry banner supporting hydraulic fracturing

Victor Furman says it’s unfair that New York is beholden to what he calls an unfair moratorium, with such a resource at it’s feet.

“The regs have been done for 4 years now their finalized they’re just sitting on a desk and it’s time for New York to open up this opportunity for every citizen in this state, not just the land owners. The people that are here holding the anti-frack signs, you can’t drink gas signs? Every one of them uses natural gas.”

Furman’s small group of pro-drilling supporters were significantly outnumbered by the anti-fracking protesters.

Keith Schue is with Sustainable Ostego, a non-profit in the Catskills Leatherstocking Region. He calls the hydraulic fracturing industry ‘boom and bust’ and says what few jobs it creates disappear just as suddenly as they appeared. He says the state should be focused on other economic engines.

“The great thing about renewable is energy is that you’re not tied into the uncertainty of the price market of how much gas is gonna cost. If we end up transporting gas from this country overseas, you’re gonna see gas prices rise.”

Schue says he hopes the continued presence of the anti-fracking protesters will remind Governor Cuomo how many New Yorkers are vehemently against the practice.

New York has been under an anti-hydraulic fracturing moratorium since 2008. Many expect Governor Cuomo to make a decision whether or not to lift it after the November election, but the governor was running late from the Democratic Convention and wasn’t present for President Obama’s remarks on tourism.