President Obama is continuing his upstate New York tour today to push for college-tuition reforms after spending the night in Auburn and planning to head to Binghamton University for a town-hall speech.
A massive crowd is expected in Binghamton for the president’s visit after Obama made a whirlwind tour of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse on Thursday. He gave a speech on college costs at the University of Buffalo, ate lunch with college students in Rochester and gave a second speech at a Syracuse high school. He also visited Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s rights movement.
Obama worked out at a local YMCA on Friday morning, and the group of onlookers included an opponent of hydraulic fracturing on roller skates, according to the White House pool report.
Police and protesters were making their way to the Binghamton campus ahead of the president’s visit. Protestors for and against fracking are expected to converge on the area, which sits above the gas-right Marcellus Shale. Obama supports natural-gas drilling, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to decide on whether to proceed with the controversial drilling technique.
“We are just making sure the area is secure and our personnel are in place,” Binghamton University police Lt. Marc Leniek told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. “It’s a bit of logistical juggling act but our department and other agencies have risen to the challenge.”
Otego resident Nathaniel Posner was among the first spectators to arrive. He and a small group of friends told the paper they will hold up signs urging the president to keep fracking out of New York.
“We want the president to know this is an important issue for us,” he said.
Dan Fitzsimmons, head of the pro-gas Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, said drilling supporters are having a rally and picnic.
After the speech in Binghamton, Obama will head to Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., to continue to promote his plan for a new rating system for colleges. On Thursday, Obama unveiled a plan that would seek to lower tuition costs by adding more accountability to colleges’ performance and how federal aid is allocated.