Hydrofracking debate continues at EPA hearing in Binghamton

By PAT BAILEY

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (WKTV) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held the final of four meetings on the topic of Hydrofracking in Binghamton on Monday.

U.S. Representative Michael Arcuri spoke at Monday's public hearing, telling the EPA that there is no rush to dig for natural gas on the Marcellus Shale, because the process of hydrofracking has not been deemed safe.

Hydrofracking is a technique where water is used as pressure to dig below the earth's surface for natural gas.

"It is a great technology," Arcuri said. "It is something that we need to explore, something we need to stay focused on. But it's not something that we should do until we are sure we're doing it in a safe way.".

Many people living along the shale, which stretches across most of southern New York State including Otsego County, oppose hydrofracking because they fear their drinking water could become contaminated.

"I understand the potential value of accessing natural gas in Upstate New York and the right and need of property owners to access this resource," Arcuri's opponent in the upcoming election, Richard Hanna said. "However, I do not support drilling in the Marcellus shale, because the hydrofracking process has not proven to be environmentally safe."

Outside of Monday's forum, the streets were packed. On one side was a group who supported hydrofracking, saying natural gas is "America's friend."

On the other side of the street, hundreds shouted loud with their opposition to the drilling.

"We're in great danger of totally destroying the Finger Lakes area, and (the) Southern Tier," said Ross Horowitz.

Supporter William Gartner said natural gas has served Americans well for many years.

"I think is pretty safe," Gartner said. "They may have some accidents here and there, but there are many being built. There are many being built and there are no problems."

The EPA plans to have a decision on whether or not hydrofracking is safe within a year.

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