Hydrofracking opponents rally in Syracuse

SYRACUSE, NY – Opponents of hydrofracking staged a rally in Syracuse Friday to keep up the pressure for a moratorium on the use of the process.

Hydrofracking is a method natural gas drilling companies use to get gas out of the ground where it is trapped beneath a layer of solid rock. Fluid under high pressure is pumped at the rock layer. The pressure creates microscopic fractures in the rock. Natural gas escapes through the tiny fractures and is captured.

New York's Southern Tier contains a vast reservoir of natural gas. The use of hydrofracking to get that gas is the center of controversy.

Natural gas beneath many Pennsylvania communities has been mined using this procedure for several years. In recent weeks, two incidents have given anti-hydrofracking advocates ammunition. A well blowout in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania earlier this month spewed fluids and debris into the air and onto the land for hours. In April, a drilling company was banned from operating in the state because it is believed to be the source of contamination of home drinking water wells.

"The warning signs are crystal clear," said Dereth Glance of Citizen Action, one of the groups opposed to hydrofracking. "We need New York State and our legislature to be proactive and protect what we have now."

Supporters of hydrofracking say the procedure is safe.

Glance and other activists believe the state should ban the use of hydrofracking for two years so the process can be studied to determine whether it will harm the environment or people.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation may come up with rules for hydrofracking by the end of the year.