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Anti-Fracking Demonstrators Protest Gov. Cuomo During Midtown Speech

By Dan Rivoli | August 22, 2012 1:42pm | Updated on August 22, 2012 4:50pm
A protester holds up a sign bearing the slogan "Don't Frack NY" during the protest on Seventh Avenue and West 53rd Street on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012.
A protester holds up a sign bearing the slogan "Don't Frack NY" during the protest on Seventh Avenue and West 53rd Street on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

MIDTOWN — Dozens of vocal protesters descended on the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Wednesday to rally against the controversial natural gas drilling process known as “fracking” as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a policy speech inside.

The raucous demonstrators amassed across the street from the hotel on Seventh Avenue and West 53rd Street, playing songs such as Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" on brass instruments and shouting anti-fracking slogans.

Ralliers inside the hotel even managed to unfurl a giant banner from the window of the hotel reading "Cuomo Don't Frack NY."

Cuomo is reportedly considering limited drilling in counties along the Pennsylvania border using hydraulic fracturing, widely referred to as “fracking,” which extracts natural gas from shale.

The protest, organized by CREDO Action and New Yorkers Against Fracking, filled the bustling Midtown corner for roughly two hours, directing anti-fracking-themed chants and songs toward the Sheraton Hotel.

Maryanne Byington, 66, said she came to the protest because she worries about the possibility that fracking will taint New York City drinking water with gas and pollution.

“I love New York City water,” Byington said. “New York City water is the best. Why would we want to risk ruining it?”

Byington, who lives in the East Village, said she was disappointed that more people didn’t come to the afternoon protest because she wanted Cuomo to know the disapproval of fracking is widespread.

“It’s not something you can say, ‘Oh maybe we shouldn’t have done that,’ and stop. The damage is done,” she said. “We’ve got to let [Cuomo] know that, despite what the polls say, he doesn’t have carte blanche to do whatever he wants to do.”

Nadette Staša, 47, who founded an organization called the Peace Museum NY, rode through the protest on a bicycle, with her “peace pug” named Olive riding in the basket.

“She’s a peace pug, and nothing says peace like clean water and clean air,” said Staša, as she sprayed bubbles into the crowd of protesters.

Staša, who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, had outfitted her bike with signs disparaging fracking. Olive was kept company in the basket by a stuffed Gandhi figure. On the back of the bike, a stuffed Kermit the Frog carried a sign reading: “It’s our water. Don’t frack it up!”

Several New York City politicians, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, have spoken out in support of placing a ban on hydraulic fracturing.

According to a recent report in The New York Times, Cuomo is considering placing rules on hydraulic fracturing that would limit use of the technique to certain portions of the state in an effort to reduce groundwater contamination.