Fracking did not make its way into President Obama’s remarks on a stop in Scranton, Pa. Friday, despite drilling opponents’ attempts to force the issue.
A group of roughly 50 protestors chanted and held up signs outside Lackawanna College in Scranton. One protestor who had gotten a ticket to the event shouted to the President from the rafters, asking him to support a ban on fracking.
The President stayed on message, touting a new plan to make it easier for students to afford higher education by holding colleges accountable for tuition rates. Obama did nod to his support for natural gas development when discussing his administration’s accomplishments.
“We invested in new technologies to achieve energy independence,” Obama said, later adding, “We’re generating more energy than ever before.”
Many of the protestors followed the President from an earlier appearance in Upstate New York where drilling currently is on hold pending a state health impact study. The Associated Press reports hundreds of activists on both sides of the issue turned out for protests in Binghamton.
During a question and answer session with students at Binghamton University, the President said that fossil fuel industries “tend to be very influential”on congress and stressed the importance of investing in clean energy, according to WNBF radio.
Anti-drilling activists Ray Kemble and Craig Stevens followed the President from Binghamton and were in the audience in Scranton. Last week, the Susquehanna County residents traveled to Washington, D.C. to call for a new federal investigation into water quality issues in Dimock.
Kemble wants Obama to visit his home.
“He goes out to tornadoes after a disaster, hurricane disasters, flood disasters,” Kemble said. “Well, invasion of the water and the land is an invasion, too. That’s a national emergency. He should be here to see what’s going on.”
Environmental groups handed out free water to the line of speech-goers that wrapped around the block in the hot afternoon sun. They didn’t draw more than a few sidelong glances from people like David Moore from Scranton.
“They have the right to speak their mind,” said Moore, who said he wanted to hear the President talk more about bringing jobs to the struggling Northeast Pennsylvania city.”[Drilling has] definitely has brought more jobs. Then they have the environmental issues.”