About 200 demonstrators waved anti-hydraulic fracturing signs and chanted in unison as speakers with bullhorns led a rally on the Long Beach boardwalk Saturday against the controversial natural gas drilling technique, and to bring public attention to a proposed offshore liquid natural gas deepwater port off of the City by the Sea.
The protest coincided with a global day of demonstrations against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which environmentalists say could pollute drinking water and cause underground contamination, among other wide-ranging negative effects. Opponents urged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to enact a ban on fracking after a moratorium on the drilling technique was extended earlier this year.
“We need to say no to fracking in our state,” Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) yelled into the crowd of people with their backs to the ocean. “It’s not the answer.”
The crowd, forming a semicircle on the newly re-built boardwalk, lifted up signs that read, “Get the frack outta here,” “Don’t frack with our water,” and “Long Island against Frackenstein,” while chanting similar remarks as bike riders buzzed by and passersby stopped to listen.
Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, directed her comments to Cuomo, criticizing him for only coming to LI to meet with the “rich and powerful” over concerned residents.
“We the people have power and influence. Why isn’t he meeting with us?” she blasted, adding, “Do not frack New York.”
Fracking proponents note that the drilling technique could be a boon to the upstate economy, with the gas industry pumping chemicals into shale rock to release natural gas.
Opponents are worried that if gas companies get the green light to frack upstate it would allow a proposed LNG port dubbed Port Ambrose about 20 miles off Long Beach to export gas extracted through the drilling process, though the company applying for the deepwater import facility license has said the permit does not allow exports through the facility.
The group gathering in Long Beach Saturday afternoon said they had other concerns regarding the offshore port, including the ramifications of a potential oil spill.
“We don’t want to see the industrialization of our waters,” said Claudia Borecky, of the Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations, noting that the proposed facility could be in the path of a future hurricane.
“You don’t want to swim in polluted water or drink polluted water,” added John Moore, co-organizer of MoveOn.org.
Cuomo has not discussed which way he’s leaning on the fracking issue. The governor also has final say regarding Port Ambrose, though the U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration will first decide whether to grant the license.