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Fracking protesters pressure Cuomo at Capitol

ALBANY -- More than 1,000 demonstrators marched to New York's state Capitol yesterday to keep up the pressure on Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as he prepares to decide whether to allow shale gas drilling using high-volume hydraulic fracturing after four years of studying its health and environmental impacts.

The coalition of groups rallied at Albany's Corning Preserve along the Hudson River before marching several blocks to the Capitol to deliver a pledge of resistance demanding that Cuomo ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process uses millions of gallons of chemically treated water to blast open gas-rich shale deposits deep underground.

Some of the protesters carried a large cardboard likeness of Cuomo with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other to represent the opposing viewpoints of drilling opponents and industry supporters. Others toted tall mock-ups of windmills to symbolize their preference for renewable energy sources over fossil fuels such as natural gas.

Josh Fox, director of the anti-fracking documentary "Gasland," vowed civil disobedience if New York State regulators allow shale gas drilling.

"If they allow this to happen, I'm putting myself between the rig and the pad," Fox shouted to the roaring crowd.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is nearing completion of an environmental impact study and new regulations for gas drilling using horizontal drilling and high-volume fracking technology. When the study is complete, Cuomo is expected to allow drilling to begin on a limited basis in communities near the Pennsylvania border.

Advances in fracking technology have allowed the industry to extract enormous volumes of natural gas from rock formations such as the Marcellus Shale, which lies under southern New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

Fracking has also raised concerns about the potential for drinking water contamination and other adverse impacts in densely populated regions unaccustomed to an industry that has until recently been active mostly in the West and Gulf Coast.

State & Region