Niagara Gazette

Local News

August 23, 2013

Obama's visit provides chance to have their voices heard

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Rita Yelda, the Western New York organizer for the statewide coalition of groups supporting the ban of hydraulic fracturing New Yorkers Against Fracking, said that with a decision yet to be made on whether the practice will be permanently banned, fracking remains a key issue in the state.

“This is something that threatens our livelihood,” she said. “It threatens our water, our air and our land and you can’t get more basic than that.”

Yelda said that while Obama has made progress in renewable energies he has also allowed fossil fuel interests to continue polluting and profiting at the expense of the public.

“I think what a lot of people have seen coming from President Obama is a lot of hypocrisy in regards to the fact that he has acknowledged climate change and yet is still promoting natural gas development,” she said.

John Keevert, a retired photographic scientist with Kodak, drove from Rochester with a group of people to show their support for a continued ban on fracking.

Keevert, 69, who is part of an anti-fracking group in Rochester called R-Cause, said he commends Obama for his recognition of climate change, but thinks the president should be doing more to limit the use of fossil fuels.

“Natural gas is a fossil fuel, it’s as dirty as coal and it should not be a part of our energy profile,” Keevert said, later adding, “I’m here because of my grandchildren. So that in 40 years at least I’ll know I did something to try to avert climate change.”

Ronald Szolnoky held a sign up to the people in line for the speech that read “It’s not about guns. It’s about control.”

Szolnoky said he was there to rail against the president’s effort to expand federal gun laws and the SAFE Act, the state law pushed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo that expands gun regulations, that was signed into law in January.

“This is not a debate that’s going away,” Szolnoky said. “We’re here. We’re not going anywhere.”

Szolnoky said that though his issue was different from many of the other protestors, they shared a common goal on Thursday.

“We’re putting out our displeasure with certain policies,” he said.

Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257

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