Two Minutes with the EPA
HERD ABOUT IT?
by Ana Grarian
Ana attended the first set of Public Hearings set by the EPA on September 13, 20010 in Binghamton NY. Previously scheduled hearings for Binghamton and Syracuse had been cancelled when concerns were raised over the possibility that attendance would be very high with protesters and counter – protests from both side of the issue.
Participants in rallies in NYS including the State Capitol saw this as misinformation being spread, possibly by the gas industry. In PA, Gov. Rendell has taken the office of Homeland Security to task for hyping protesters as possible terrorists.
Streets were roped off in the neighborhood of the venue, and areas designated for pro, and anti-fracking rallies were provided on opposite sides of the street in front of the theater. Police encouraged folks to stay within the barricades or on the sidewalk in order to maintain a fire lane in front of the theater.
Inside the hearings folks took turns presenting their opinions and information in a smoothly run program of two minute time slots. Presenters were applauded by supporters. Disapproval was generally registered only as silence from opposing sections of the auditorium.
The only disruption appeared early in the program when Congressman Hinchey who represents Binghamton spoke from the stage. Though the facilitator of the meeting was not timing his speech, apparently, his comments were too much in favor of a renewed EPA investigation for those in favor of drilling now. A small section of the audience broke into chants of “two minutes, two minutes” attempting to drown out the Congressman. The rest of the afternoon went off without a hitch.
Two more sessions are planned for Binghamton on Wednesday September 15th.