Hundreds unite in Albany to fight gas drilling

Hundreds of opponents of hydraulic fracturing in New York gathered outside the state Capitol on Monday to protest the controversial drilling technique proposed for the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier and other shale formations.

"It will fill our roads with fleets of diesel trucks, our fields and forests with diesel-powered compressors and our rural air with benzene ... and other carcinogenic vapors," said ecologist Sandra Steingraber, an author and a scholar-in-residence at Ithaca College. "It will release known carcinogens that are right now safely locked up in the geological strata -- cadmium, arsenic, lead and radiation."

Permits for high-volume hydraulic fracturing are on hold while the state Department of Environmental Conservation continues work on a second draft of its environmental impact study on the drilling technique. The report was supposed to be completed on or around June 1, with at least 30 days for public comment, but it will not be finished until late summer, said Michael Bopp, a spokesman for the agency.

The activists oppose hydrofracking, a drilling technique in which a mixture of sand, water and chemicals is used to break shale formations and release gas. They say the practice has "poisoned" water supplies in other parts of the country. People at the rally held hand-made signs with slogans like "Fooey on Fracking!" and "No Frackin' Way."

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