State launches hydrofracking hearings this week

he 3½-year debate over drilling for natural gas in New York is about to hit the stage.

Officials in Dansville and Binghamton are preparing for large, emotional crowds this week as the Department of Environmental Conservation travels the state to solicit input on its proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus and Utica Shale.

Anywhere from several dozen to a few hundred people from all parts of the state and all sides of the debate are expected to attend, with those hoping to secure a coveted three-minute speaking slot expected to line up at the doors well before they're open.

"There are groups and individuals from all across this state that are gearing up and getting ready to come out and tell the DEC what they think of its draft plan," said Katherine Nadeau, a program director for Environmental Advocates of New York.

Hearings will be Wednesday at the Dansville Middle School auditorium and Thursday at The Forum Theatre in Binghamton, with ones in Sullivan County and New York City to follow later in the month.

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