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Business leaders gather for fracking forum

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Albany/HV: Business leaders gather for fracking forum
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Governor Andrew Cuomo didn't address the debate over hydrofracking in his State of the State, but business leaders did. They heard from an organization pushing to drill in the Marcellus Shale. YNN's Elaina Athans has more.

MONTGOMERY, N.Y. -- All the "good reasons" to drill for gas given at a forum.

"Overall, we've been losing manufacturing jobs," said Northeast Marcellus Initiative Campaign Director Tom Shepstone.

An organization funded by the natural gas industry speaks before the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. Shepstone says hydrofracking, if it happens in the Marcellus Shale, could save residents up to a thousand dollars a year and it'll help demand, especially in Orange County.

“Forty-six percent of the population is using natural gas to heat their homes and that’s residences," said Shepstone.

Fracking could help keep both people's bills and the unemployment rate low.

"There's a lot of job potential there and there is tax base enhancement potential, new product introduction into the market," said Orange County Chamber of Commerce Chair Richard Struck.

Opponents have fear drilling for natural gas will harm the environment and the water supply.

"Where do these fluids migrate? Where do they go when you’re injecting that amount of chemicals into the ground?" asked chamber member Thomas Salamone.

About a year-and-a-half ago, a resident of Dimock, Pennsylvania spoke before a panel. Where she lives, hydrofracking has happened and the place has been coined Ground Zero of gas drilling. She brought with her cloudy jugs of water claiming her home supply was contaminated.

"The DEP, the Pennsylvania DEP, Cabot Oil and Gas, independent laboratories and the Environmental Protection Agency all tested their water and found it was fine. So the verdict is in. The verdict is it was safe," said Shepstone.

Though the drilling industry says that water was safe, bottled water was brought to the residents of Dimock. The Chamber of Commerce is considering organizing a trip to Dimock, Pennsylvania to see the pros and cons of drilling.

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