Gov. Andrew Cuomo mixes with fairgoers, hydrofracking protesters at the New York State Fair
Geddes, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo celebrated dairy and yogurt at the new York State Fair today with about 200 protesters in tow asking him to reject proposed hydrofacking in the state. With shouts of “Gov. Cuomo, be a hero” and refrains to “Stop in the name of love,” the anti-hydrofracking group followed Cuomo as he visited a veterans memorial, the new York State Police booth and the yogurt-inspired butter sculpture.
“The butter sculpture this year is of Greek yogurt,” said Cuomo, who earlier this month held a “yogurt summit” in Albany to brainstorm ways to boost new York’s dairy industry along with the new food craze.
“We’ve been courting yogurt manufacturing to come to the state of new York,” Cuomo said. “Yogurt manufacturers bring jobs, they employ people, and they use a lot of milk.”
But Cuomo repeated that there is no specific deadline for the Department of Environmental Conservation to issue a final ruling on hydrofracking.
Erin Heaton lives in new Berlin, where Chobani manufactures Greek yogurt. She’s worried that hydrofracking could push out manufacturers like Chobani that depend on both agriculture and clean water.
“Chobani is a great thing,” she said, admitting she ate some blueberry-flavored Chobani for breakfast today. “I don’t think Chobani and fracking would mix well.”
Hydrofracking involves drilling deep and horizontally to release natural gas. Proponents say the industry will bring jobs to the state. Opponents are worred about groundwater contamination.
Cuomo, a Democrat in his second year, showed little concern for the protesters. He shook the hands of politicians and state troopers, posed for photos with fairgoers and even had a discussion with a young girl about the spelling of her name. She spells it Kara, while Cuomo’s daughter goes with Cara.
Cuomo’s daughters, Cara, 17, and Michaela, 14, accompanied the governor on the 45-minute tour, which also included a stop at Gianelli Sausage for a sausage sandwich.
Marie Mingin pushed through the media and security to get a photo with Cuomo. “My sister is mad in love with him,” said Mingin, of Syracuse. “She couldn’t be here, so I got one for her.”
Naryl Mendillo, of Scipio, edged in with her anti-fracking signs, some of which included umbrellas with “no frack” spelled out on the shades.
“I have faith he won’t do this to our state,” she said. but if he does, it’ll cost him her vote.
As Cuomo left the fairgrounds, he saw Heaton wearing a shirt that had a print of a cow filled with tiny words describing the chemicals forced into the ground in the hydrofracking process. The governor, from where he stood, couldn’t see the scientific names, but he could see the cow and the shirt’s message: “love new York? Don’t frack it up.”
Cuomo shouted to Heaton: “Love your shirt.”
“Thank you,” she replied.
Later, she said it was her favorite shirt. “Because it’s hopeful.”
Contact Teri Weaver at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-470-2274.