Cuomo foes pounce on fracking indecision

But Astorino’s position has made him a foe of anti-fracking activists, who have become a highly organized protest group with significant bases in the Finger Lakes, Catskills and New York City. Fracking foes say the process can cause damage to the environment and human health and isn’t worth the risks.

An August poll from Quinnipiac University showed opposition to fracking inching up slightly in New York, with 48 percent opposed and 43 percent supporting the technique.

Fracking foes are no fan of Cuomo, either, having become disillusioned with his resistance to embracing a full ban on shale-gas drilling.

Zephyr Teachout, a little-known, under-funded law professor, credited the “fracktivists” with helping her rack up 34 percent of the Democratic primary vote against Cuomo on Sept. 9. She performed well in the Catskills and Finger Lakes.

Over the course of Cuomo’s term, opponents of shale-gas drilling have protested outside of dozens of his events, with hundreds showing up at each of Cuomo’s last two State of the State addresses.

Cuomo can expect more of the same, said Walter Hang, an Ithaca-based organizer and owner of Toxics Targeting, an environmental database firm.

“I’m telling the governor that we have just begun to fight between now and Election Day,” said Hang. “If he thinks he’s been bird-dogged before, he hasn’t seen anything yet.”

With no major-party candidate backing a fracking ban, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins is hoping to pick up some support.

In a letter to supporters this week, Hawkins said his support for a ban is nothing new.

“I called for a ban on fracking for natural gas as the Green gubernatorial candidate in 2010 at a time when most environmentalists urged a moratorium so that the health and environmental impacts of fracking could be studied,” Hawkins wrote.

JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com

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