Members of New Yorkers Against Fracking gathered Downtown at the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade on Saturday to continue their fight against hydraulic fracturing in New York.
At the “Downtown Frackdown,” petitioners walked door-to-door asking Binghamton residents and businesses to support a ban on fracking in the Southern Tier.
The petition was organized by a number of anti-fracking groups including New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), Frack Action, Citizen Action of New York and others organizations that are part of New Yorkers Against Fracking.
Isaac Silberman-Gorn, an environmental organizer with Citizen Action of New York, began the event by engaging attendees in a role-playing activity to demonstrate what petitioners should do when residents respond negatively. However, he added that most residents would be supportive because “no one in this city has anything to gain from this.”
“We are going to win this fight,” he said. “There’s too much at stake.”
Silberman-Gorn said the fight against fracking in New York is especially important because it will set a precedent for the rest of the nation.
“The world is watching New York,” he said.
Rob Kornblum serves as both the project coordinator for NYPIRG on campus and the NYPIRG Southern Tier hydrofracking coordinator. He said that Saturday’s petition was a combined effort by community members and students ban hydrofracking.
“I thought it was essential that Binghamton students had to join forces with these groups,” Kornblum said.
He said that he has seen a “vastly increased student presence in the hydrofracking movement,” but he still hopes to expand student involvement.
According to Kornblum, most residents were supportive of the petitioners. He said the petition is a way to remind people they are not alone if they are against fracking.
“A lot of people can feel powerless when they don’t know that,” Kornblum said.
He received signatures from about a dozen local businesses, including River Read Books, Thai Time and several art galleries.
NYPIRG intern Nikia Williams said she went to about 100 houses asking residents to sign the petition.
Williams, a junior double-majoring in comparative literature and philosophy, politics and law, said many of the residents were not home, but those who were seemed overwhelmingly anti-fracking.
She said that before her internship with NYPIRG, she knew little about the process of hydrofracking.
“After learning about it and hearing about it, it’s definitely a very important issue,” Nikia said. “It’s very important that we keep our water uncontaminated.”
Kornblum said that in the future, students should expect to see NYPIRG ramping up their presence on campus with a series of educational events. Their plans include phone-a-thons to Governor Cuomo, demonstrations of clean vs. fracked water and educating students on where local candidates stand on fracking.
Kornblum said he is optimistic about working with NYPIRG on campus this year, and that the group has a good mix of freshmen and seasoned anti-frackers.
“We’ve got a good group so far this year,” Kornblum said. “I’m just looking forward to an excellent season of student activism.”