As members of Kirkland Committee to Prohibit Hydrofracking, we wanted to get the attention of State Senator Joe Griffo (R–47th ) before the end of the legislative session. Working with HydroReliefWeb, an Oneida-Madison County grass roots anti-fracking group, we organized a demonstration outside of the State Office Building in Utica in just five days.
Even though the temperature climbed into the mid-90’s on the day of our event, sixty to seventy people showed up to walk, hold signs, and chant “Hey Joe, Just Say No” with energy and spirit. From the young, to one amazing woman near ninety, and all ages in-between, the group was united in calling for a complete ban on hydrofracking in all of New York.
Although Senator Griffo has consistently been willing to meet with and listen to his constituents and has expressed concern for the safety of drinking water, he has not taken a stand against fracking. As this legislative term ended, he supported towns being able to decide whether or not they want to allow fracking and believes that fracking will help the New York economy. In other words, he seems to endorse the plan that was leaked by the Cuomo administration several weeks ago.
Before the demonstration began, several of us visited Senator Griffo’s office and invited his staff to come down and meet with us. No one from Sen. Griffo’s office appeared, but after the event, Senator Griffo issued a response, accomplishing one of our goals: to prompt him to make a public statement.
A staff member from the office of Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-116th), who is opposed to hydrofracking, did come outside during our event and spoke with participants for most of the hour.
As the DEC decision looms closer it is more important than ever to stand up publicly and tell our representatives what we want them to do. Standing outside on a hot summer day in the heart of Utica gave visibility to our cause, allowed us to send a public message to our Senator, and generated interest and support from people passing by. Because we had sent out a press release and followed up with phone calls, we generated newspaper (print and online) and TV coverage.
The response that was generated by our quickly organized event made it clear to us that most people opposed to fracking and are looking for ways to be actively involved. This event energized us and fueled our determination to help achieve a ban on fracking in New York!