An anti-fracking protest in Ithaca in 2013.

Ithaca, N.Y. — Local environmental activist Walter Hang got a call Wednesday soon after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stunning announcement that he would ban fracking in New York State.

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It was from a New York state legislator. The legislator thanked Hang. Hang thanked the legislator.

And then the legislator burst into tears — tears, Hang said, of emotional jubilance after five years of an all-out push to get fracking banned in NY State.

“This is a state legislator who has worked so hard. Citizens have sacrificed day and night for years and it’s just an unprecedented effort,” Hang said. “The sacrifices here are just mind-blowing.”

An anti-fracking protest in Ithaca in 2013.

Hang said anti-fracking activists from Ithaca “played an instrumental role” in getting Gov. Cuomo to recognize the environmental and public dangers of the shale fracking practice.

For five years, he said, they attended rallies, petitioned state lawmakers, and did whatever they could to make their voices heard.

The anti-fracking coalition came to include students, religious leaders, academics, local activists and others concerned about the health implications of the practice.

“They participated in more rallies than you could shake a stick out for five brutally long years,” Hang said.

Today’s announcement, he said, was a revelation.

“No other state has ever said to the biggest corporations in the planet: you cannot desecrate our water, our environment just because you want to extract gas and oil. This is just absolutely mind-boggling.”

Click here for the NY Times account of Cuomo’s ban. We’ll be providing updates later.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.