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Gas drilling concerns aired at DEC hearing
|Corning, N.Y. |
A debate raging across the state took center stage in Corning on Wednesday evening as the state Department of Environmental Conservation held a public hearing on its new regulations for natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
Hundreds crowded the auditorium at Corning East High School, and dozens spoke passionately about their concerns. Many drew loud applause as others held up signs protesting the impending drilling boom in the Southern Tier, television cameras rolled and police officers watched.
The controversy centers around the Marcellus, a deep underground, previously untapped formation thought to contain the richest supply of gas in North America. Thousands of new wells are expected across upstate New York, and drilling them requires massive amounts of water mixed with toxic chemicals.
The process generates huge amounts of waste water and has been linked to a wide array of environmental problems. Opponents say the Marcellus boom will be on a much larger scale than drilling that has occurred here in the past, with heavy truck traffic and big areas of land being bulldozed.
But the boom is also expected to bring a windfall to landowners who sign gas leases, as well as a significant boost to the upstate New York economy. More than a year ago, the DEC was charged with updating its regulations, turning out an 800-page draft for review, and Wednesday’s public hearing in Corning was one of only a handful held across the state.
Many in attendance claimed the regulations weren’t nearly stringent enough.
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