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what the frack?

Should New York allow natural gas drilling using an intensive technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking?" This question is dividing communities across the southern tier of New York where the gas-rich Marcellus shale formation is found.

Community protestors from across New York state converged on the state capitol in Albany, Jan. 25, 2010, for two simultaneous rallies about proposed natural gas drilling. Drilling opponents chanted "statewide ban" as they marched through the Empire State Concourse.

Some 600 members of community groups and local environmental groups attended a rally in the concourse. “The water has always been good here. We want to keep it that way,” said Onondaga Nation faithkeeper Oren Lyons (center). “Tell your governor he's got to change his ways now.” Other speakers included Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, (D-Ithaca).

Meanwhile, Senator Thomas Libous, (R-Binghamton) addressed a counter-protest in Lafayette Park, across from the Capitol. Calling drilling opponents "environmental extremists," he said "we have before us an opportunity and we can't blow this opportunity."

Media estimated 250 to 700 drilling supporters attended the event, organized by the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York. The Department of Environmental Conservation is currently reviewing public comments on a draft Enivironmental Impact Statement for the “hydraulic fracturing” drilling method.

Representatives from Oneonta and Elmira-area community groups met with Assemblyman Tom O’Mara during the day of rallies and lobbying in Albany. 327 of the drilling opponents stayed on to lobby their legislators after the rally.

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