Hydrofracking Debate

By Brandi Devine

February 20, 2011 Updated Feb 21, 2011 at 11:50 AM EDT

Cortland, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Natural gas drilling takes the stage at SUNY Cortland in front of a big crowd.

Two scientists, one from Cornell and the other from Syracuse, debate the pros and cons of the process known as hydrofracking.

It was a back and forth between 2 scientists with an educational debate on both sides of natural gas drilling.

Donald Siegel is a Professor of Earth Science at Syracuse University and a proponent of gas extraction.

Siegel says he thinks it is very unlikely that the possible harmful impacts of drilling will effect area waters.

"It is highly improbable and probably implausible that we would see such a thing happen. We might still see a case of bad cementing fluids moving up the outside of the well, as in Dimock," said Siegel.

Anthony Ingraffea is a Professor of Engineering at Cornell University. He says he is more fearful about the extraction process on the environment.

"To categorically deny that we should never worry about something is to deny the first principle of science and engineering and geomechanics, which is, we don't know anything exactly, therefore we can never exactly predict anything," said Ingraffea.

More than 200 people crowded into the campus auditorium to hear the conversations. There was both supporters and opponents of the natural gas drilling process.

"To cause permanent unfixable damage because you want to be quick, run out the gate makes no sense to me," says Professor Linda Lavine, SUNY Cortland.

"We've been losing jobs, as everyone knows right and left. Our taxes are the highest in the nation. We have the highest property tax of anywhere due to Medicaid. This is an opportunity for our area to be revitalized," said Julie Lewis (R), Broome County Legislator.

There was a common perspective on both sides and that is knowledge is necessary to form an opinion on a topic as important as gas drilling.

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