To coincide with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's attendance at the lunchtime 'Women for Cuomo' fundraiser, 75 environmental activists held a rally outside the Plaza Hotel on Wednesday. Except Governor Cuomo never arrived as the luncheon was canceled.  

Eric Weltman, an organizer with Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization, told Latin Post, 'We are here to protest outside the Women for Cuomo fundraiser at the Plaza Hotel, and we organized a substantial number of women, as well as men, against fracking, a great crowd, all with the message 'Ban Fracking Now!' We were joined by members from United For Action, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club, but we got word from the New York Police Department that Governor Cuomo's people had canceled the event.'

Latin Post checked with the concierge at the Plaza Hotel and was able to confirm the fundraiser had been canceled.

Weltman added, 'Whenever we know that Governor Cuomo is going to make a public appearance, whether it is here in New York or in Long Island, given sufficient notice we are able to mobilize a crowd, and this is regardless of whether it is Long Island or Buffalo."  

But Weltman says Cuomo's aids do their best to keep his schedule hidden from groups like Food and Water Watch, which has been well documented in the press, and the aids seem to be stepping up secrecy.  Weltman thinks it could be attributable to the work of the anti-fracking movement.

Weltman said, 'Over 500 people held an anti-fracking rally at an evening fundraising event on June 30 at the Grand Hyatt where Governor Cuomo did attend.'

New York is one of many states in the Northeast corridor which sits above a geological formation called the Marcellus Shale, which oil and gas companies have identified as containing plentiful amounts of natural gas. To extract the gas, companies use a method of drilling called hydraulic fracturing, in which a vertical well is drilled and then extended horizontally, and water laced with chemicals is forced at high speed down the well to cause a fracture in the shale to release the gas. The practice is being carried out in states like Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.  For six years, New York has had a moratorium on issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing, and its State Health Department is currently studying potential health effects if drilling is permitted. Opponents of fracking claim it may contaminate groundwater, waste water, and pollute the air.

Musician Terry Heller told Latin Post, 'I'm protesting because I am very concerned about the future of our water, land and air. There can be no doubt about the hopeless toxicity of fracking in our world. There are so many other options of our creative entrepreneurs [than fracking] who are interested in the welfare of our world and the soil, the water and the land and the air are pursuing, instead of just a few people receiving money and profit and destroying others in the process leaving them without water, destroying their crops, and their animals.'

New York State Assembly just voted and passed a bill to introduce a three year moratorium on fracking, but the Senate did not take up the bill. Governor Cuomo is seeking re-election this November.