Fracking Forum Draws Crowds

By Michelle Costanza

December 4, 2012 Updated Dec 5, 2012 at 11:19 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The New York State Petroleum Council held a forum on hydraulic fracturing for elected officials, while concerned citizens lined the sidewalk outside to protest.

Protesters donned costumes and waved signs with anti-drilling messages such as "no drill, no spill," and "gas jobs are toxic."

The rally was held in response to a private forum for local elected officials, which took place just inside the hotel.

Officials from Broome and Tioga counties were invited to the informational presentation and dinner, which addressed the benefits of natural gas drilling.

Speakers talked about the positive impact of job creation in Pennsylvania and the promise of even more manufacturing careers and businesses here in the Southern Tier.

"Even with average development, we're looking at 25,000 direct jobs what will be created. Direct jobs are with construction and well pads and explorations. And on top of that you have indirect jobs," said Karen Moreau, executive director of NYSPC.

Conversely, ralliers said that natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania has already had negative impacts, including loss of housing and farming, as well as water contamination and an increase in crime.

Speakers at the rally included Chris Berger, Director of Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, who summed up the impact in Pennsylvania: "History and experience shows that communities as a whole are left economically diminished after fracking occurs, with their future competitiveness severely compromised."

Binghamton University sophomore Sarah Scher said, "Fracking is a wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to job creation. Gas companies promise a lot of high quality, local jobs, but in actuality, they hire out-of-state employees who are specialized in this field. Even if local people are offered jobs, working in the oilfields has comparatively high rates of injury and fatality."

The purpose of the forum was to keep officials updated and continue the fracking discussion here in New York.