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"Action Otsego" and others protest hydrofracking in Cherry Valley

By CAROLINE GABLE

CHERRY VALLEY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The goal of protesters along Route 54 in Cherry Valley: to make some noise and they did just that a few hundred yards from The Cherry Valley School. Protesters young and old, from near and as far as Pennsylvania lined the streets in the cold, holding up signs, even dressing up in costume.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation has given Gastem USA the go ahead to "frack" at a Cherry Valley site, off Irish Hollow Road.

"The gas industry does not belong here, they have never studied the effects on health, the environment, community," said Kelly Branigan, a Cooperstown resident who came to the protest. But whether or not gas drilling belongs in Otsego County is a moot point, because it already exists. The Cherry Valley site off Irish Hollow Road was the hydraulically fractured twice in 2007.

The President of Gastem USA, Orville Cole, says tests show the local water supply was not affected.
But protesters aren't convinced future fracking is a good idea.

"Right now its not safe, we know its not safe, because the wells we have in New York State have had hundreds and hundreds of safety violations, " said Elliot Adams. Adams calls Sharon Springs home. He brought a homemade sign that read "No fracking way," that he hung along the road leading to the site.

Fear of the unknown is wide spread where information is not.
Stella Kenny spent time telling fellow protesters that she didn't find out about the local gas drilling, until she saw it in her own backyard.

Now protestors want more from the Gastem USA, and they want politicians to join their fight. Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo says he supports natural gas drilling if it can be done safely. He'd only be open to it if it would create jobs, while protecting the state's watersheds.

"I have a difficult time believing the people we helped get into office are allowing this travesty to go forward there is evidence from all over the country about the damage done by hydrofracking and chemicals and the danger to the environment," said Maureen Dill, who is a member of many local activist groups including Action Otsego.

The subject remains controversial, but Gastem USA says they don't have plans for horizontal drilling (different from vertical drilling) because regulation in New York State for the practice is still being drafted.

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