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Rally to expand hydrofracking impact study


As people on both sides of the hydrofracking debate wait for the state's environmental impact statement, one group is calling on the governor to expand the scope of the study. And Thursday, they rallied at the Capitol to share their concerns. Our Erin Connolly has more.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Armed with signs, people at the capitol Thursday made it clear they aren't fans of hydrofracking, the process of extracting natural gas from underground shale deposits.

Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting said, "I heat my house with gas. I cook with gas. I understand we need energy for our economy. The problem is I'm against pollution."

Ralliers are concerned that currently there are not enough drilling regulations to safeguard public health. They argue hydrofracking is dangerous because it releases hazardous radioactive material.

Wes Gillingham of the Catskill Mountainkeeper said, "What we're setting up is a situation where we're ruining our aquifers. What's more important to living and the economy than clean water."

But drilling advocates say there's no scientific evidence that suggests the process contaminates the land and water supply.

Jim Smith, of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, said, "The science behind it will tell you hydraulic fracturing is safe. It has been performed a million times and it has never polluted a drop of drinking water. Those are the facts."

Smith also says hydrofracking will prove to have a number of benefits.

Smith said, "Harvesting natural gas isn't only important for national security and energy independence, but economically, it will bring tens of thousands of jobs to New York over the next 30 years."

Those in attendance disagree and want Governor Cuomo to extend the scope of the Marcellus Shale Environmental Impact Statement and continue the moratorium on hydrofracking.

Gillingham said, "The natural gas is down there and it's not going anywhere and we shouldn't allow it to happen until we have proper precautions."

The DEC is expected to release updated drilling regulations in June. That was the deadline set by former Governor David Paterson.