Drilling Deep Into Controversy

For more than a year, a swelling movement of landowners, politicians, individuals and environmental organizations has been pressuring New York State to strongly regulate — or even ban — a natural gas drilling process that could wreak havoc on the environment.

Opposing them are big energy companies throwing around hundreds of millions of dollars to snap up land leases in the state so they can tap huge natural gas reserves thousands of feet underground.

At stake are freshwater sources for millions of people in Philadelphia, New York and the countryside, as well as watersheds that replenish environmental treasures from the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River to the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay.

The issue has now come to a head. After the state released a much-awaited environmental impact statement, opponents blasted it as incomplete and said it was unacceptable that only 60 days were allotted for public comment.

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