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Activists Protest As Fracking Deadline Looms

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Governor Andrew Cuomo faces a critical decision this month on whether to allow a controversial natural gas extraction procedure known as hydraulic fracturing in New York State, and the impending deadline has stirred up activists who are staunchly against the procedure they call "fracking".

A winter storm made Friday a relatively quiet day in the political world, but the nasty weather didn't stop several committed activists from holding a demonstration in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Manhattan office.

Later this month, Cuomo faces a deadline to decide whether to allow limited hydraulic fracturing in New Yori State's southern tier, which borders Pennsylvania. More than 200,000 comments on this issue were submitted to the Cuomo Administration after the last public comment period.

"It has huge implications for water contamination," said Alex Beauchamp of Food and Water Watch. "There's example after example after example in Pennsylvania of families that literally cannot drink the water, can't bathe with it. So there is that issue, the water contamination. But there's also what the trucks do to the roads."

Pennsylvania already allows hydraulic fracturing, and recently, a busload of celebrities and activists went there to see the environmental impact firsthand. Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, who strongly oppose fracking, were part of that tour. They have requested a meeting with the governor on the issue.

NY1 asked Governor Cuomo this week if he'd take the meeting with Ono and Lennon.

"I'll meet with anyone," he said.

Earlier this week, Cuomo's commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation testified before the legislature and was grilled on hydraulic fracturing. Opponents packed the gallery.

Protests, both in Albany and the city, have been consistent since the issue has been under consideration by Cuomo.

"If he allows fracking to go forward, any accident, any damage that's done, any pollution in the long term, the short term, anything that happens will be on his decision," said Daniele Gerard of Three Parks Independent Democrats.

The Cuomo Administration doesn't have to make a decision this month. They could, in fact, delay it again. Some, particularly in the Democratic Party, believe that this is a headache he simply doesn't need right now, especially since he and the legislature are hoping to pass the earliest budget in 30 years.

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