Crowd of nearly 300 at Wednesday’s EPA hearing mostly opposed to hydraulic fracturing

BINGHAMTON – New Berlin isn’t the only place where pro-drilling advocates’ yard signs are being defamed. Lorraine Perez of Conklin, who attended Wednesday’s Environmental Protection Agency hearing on hydraulic fracturing, held up her cell phone to display a photo of the sign in her front yard.

“They knew I’d be here today,” she said, referring to her anti-drilling neighbors back home. Her “Friends of Natural Gas” sign had been altered to read: “Stupid enough to be ...”

Binghamton police blocked streets and kept barricades in place yesterday to control the crowds anticipated at the second EPA hearing this week in Binghamton on the safety of the high water volume horizontal drilling method. It was the last of four public hearings on a pending study of fracking.

Energy companies drilling into the lucrative Marcellus in Pennsylvania, the Barnett in Texas and the Haynesville in Alabama have been employing the controversial technique to release natural gas deposits within the tight shale formations. Instances of ground and surface water contamination at some well sites, particularly in Dimock, Pa., have been blamed on the fracturing fluid mix of water, sand, soap and chemicals. Those accidents and others from other states have prompted the U.S. Congress to direct the EPA to study whether the technique should be regulated under the auspices of the Safe Drinking Water Act rather than left to the states to regulate.

But less than a dozen protesters on both sides of the issue faced off in front of the Forum, compared to reports of several hundred on Monday. Inside, about 300 listened and participated in the hearings. Pre-registered speakers were given two minutes in which to voice their opinions.

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