The Nation: New York’s Fractivists Keep the Heat on Cuomo


“It was a NIMBY [Not in My Backyard] issue at the beginning,” says Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, one of the first New York groups to raise the alarm. A couple of years ago, Adams asked McKibben to attend a fracking event and the relationship grew from there. By now, a smattering of New York grassroots activists have formed coalitions that are linking groups from across the country.”

New York’s Fractivists Keep the Heat on Cuomo

Nicholas Kusnetz

September 12, 2012   |    This article appeared in the October 1, 2012 edition of The Nation.

On a hot and breezy August morning, more than 1,000 protesters gathered in Albany calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban the drilling practice called hydraulic fracturing in New York State. Activists chanted anti-fracking fight songs and carried banners highlighting the dangers of the gas drilling practice. It was in many ways like the handful of rallies that had come before it.

But there was one subtle difference that tracked a trend in the anti-fracking movement. The first hint came with one of the first speakers: Bill McKibben, the environmental writer and activist who started the grassroots group to press for action on climate change. Last year, McKibben and his group organized a campaign that took the arcane local issue of an oil pipeline running through Nebraska and turned it into a national story, culminating in one of the environmental movement’s largest acts of civil disobedience ever, when an estimated 10,000 activists circled the White House in a human chain last November. In his speech at the August rally, McKibben called this a “gut-check” moment for Cuomo and suggested that banning fracking would make him a leader on the national, even international stage.

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