Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Suppose EPA held a hearing and everybody came


The possibility that far more people than originally expected might attend a hearing on natural gas drilling on Thursday has forced the Environmental Protection Agency to re-locate the day-long event from Binghamton University to a Syracuse convention center 65 miles north.

It’s the controversial nature of the meeting topic—the hydraulic fracturing method of extracting natural gas wells—that forced the relocation.

The EPA is undertaking a study to determine whether new environmental rules are necessary to insure that the technique (also known as hydrofracturing or fracking)
does not cause harm to groundwater or surface streams. 

The technique involves the injection of  chemical-laden water, under high pressure, to extract natural gas held in underground formations of shale rock.

Critics say the technology could poison water supplies. The industry says it's been used safely for decades in mining operations in the west.

New crowd-size estimates force relocation

The EPA said 300 people had signed up to speak at Thursday's sessions and 1,200 were expected to attend.

But a Binghamton University official said information from law enforcement and various interest groups suggested that an estimated 8,000 people could descend on the campus.  That prompted the university to raise its cost estimate to cover increased security and a larger meeting area.

EPA’s Region 2 Administrator, Judith Enck, said the revised cost estimate was five times what had been agreed upon previously and that forced the agency to find a more affordable  location.

Thursday's hearing, to be held at the Oncenter Complex in Syracuse, will consist of three, four-hour sessions.

Click here for more information on the relocated hearing

Are you concerned about  hydrofracturing?  Are new rules a good or bad idea?
Do you plan to attend the hearing? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts.  

Related stories:
Fracking meeting moved to Syracuse
EPA swaps drilling hearing to Syracuse from Binghamton 
Speakers at EPA hearing spar over effect of gas drilling on air quality
1,000 attend EPA hearing on safety of fracturing

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