Hydrofracking Debate in South Towns

November 12, 2010 Updated Nov 12, 2010 at 2:15 PM EDT

By WKBW Programming

November 12, 2010 Updated Nov 12, 2010 at 2:15 PM EDT

HAMBURG, NY (WKBW) - Drilling for natural gas and oil has always been a heated debate. People on both sides of the issue came to Illio DiPaolo's Restaurant in Blasdell Friday to discuss the issues.

Protester Sarah Buckley says drilling is harmful to humans and as well as the environment.

"Many of the chemicals are carcinogens," Buckley said.

Protesters lined the sidewalk as people walked into the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce breakfast where Executive Director of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York Brad Gill was speaking.

"Everyone benefits through tax revenue," Gill said.

Gill attended a breakfast with the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce to discuss all aspects of drilling for oil and natural gas. One aspect he protesters would not let him avoid was the future development of oil wells across a large area of Eastern New York and nearby states. This area is called the Marcellus Shale. The wells would be drilled with a method called "hydrofracking".

"It's the process of pumping under pressure water filled with additives into a formation with pressure and cracking the rock, propping it open so that oil can flow to the surface," Gill said.

Gill says the method is safe.

"91 percent of all the wells in the state are "hydrofractured". What people don't realize is that it's been done very safely for over 50 years," Gill said.

Protesters disagree.

"The industry says that "fracking" has been around for 50 years but the new chemical was developed in 1996 so it's relatively new and the chemical can cause respiratory and skin problems,"

Protesters used champaign glasses full of dirty water to get their point across. While inside, Gill used other methods to make sure his side of the story was heard. Each side was passionate about their cause.

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