Drilling leases: Some wary, many welcoming

As debate rages in other corners of New York state about the risks and rewards of rampant natural-gas drilling, Rochester has been slow to warm to the topic.

The perception has been that the wells would go somewhere else — in the Southern Tier, far from metropolitan Rochester. Hydrofracking, as the well-drilling method is known, would be someone else's problem.

That perception is rapidly changing as the potential impact from hydrofracking, especially on the Finger Lakes region, becomes clearer. For example, about 810,000 acres in the Finger Lakes — if put together, an area slightly larger than Rhode Island — has already been leased to natural gas companies.

Nedra Harvey, co-founder of a local citizens group that questions the wisdom of fracking, said that two years ago public meetings on the subject were infrequent and drew barely 100 people. Now there are meetings almost weekly and they're attracting two or three times that number.

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