Forum Discusses Utilizing Marcellus Shale for Energy

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 29, 2011 at 1:59 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

November 29, 2011 Updated Nov 29, 2011 at 1:59 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The Marcellus Shale is estimated to be the 2nd largest natural gas find in the world. The huge sedimentary rock formation stretches across New York, Pennsylvania, West virginia, Ohio and Maryland. Tuesday close to 150 people participated in the Western New York Business Leadership Forum at the Burchfield Penney Art Center to discuss utilizing natural gas inside the Marcellus Shale.

"We're at a critical time right now for New york to decide to back this important natural gas resource and it will help support local industry," said Gary Marchiori, President of Energy Mark.

The process of extraction, called Hydraulic Fracturing, and commonly referred to as hydrofracking, has allowed neighboring states and companies to unlock this energy resource. The concept has meet opposition in New York and some argue the concept is bad for the environment and contaminates the water supply.

"There are some significant horror stories coming out of those communities about tainted drinking water, inability to raise cattle, inability to take showers, dermatological problems, cancers, and different problems that are coming out as a result of this process," said Activist Jessica Schwartz.

Proponents say companies abide by strict state and federal regulations to ensure the safety of the environment, while bettering the economy. Energy companies claim it would also help to create thousands of jobs for the region and become a significant revenue booster for the state.

"EnvIronmental protections are in place and are not compromised with economic development," said Brad Gill, Executive Director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York. "We can do this very well, safely, and we look forward to the opportunity."

New York has been conducting public hearings on the issue. It's still undecided if the Cuomo Administration will allow the process to begin in New York.