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Tompkins governments hold unofficial fracking hearing

Matt Richmond
Participants in Thursday night's hearing lined up outside Ithaca's State Theatre.

The final public hearing on hydrofracking in New York was held Wednesday in New York City, but an unofficial hearing in Ithaca on Thursday still drew a large crowd.

It started with a small rally outside the State Theater. Commenters lined up around the block, waiting to say their piece. Members of the local Occupy movement gathered in Ithaca's "Commons."

Not a single pro-fracking sign could be found.

Though the hearing wasn't part of the official slate held by the state, comments were collected by a stenographer, for submission to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The event was hosted by the Tompkins County Council of Governments, and drew a crowd that filled the theater more than half way.

One of the speakers was Nathan Shinagawa, a Tompkins County legislator. He commutes an hour each day to a job as health care worker in Bradford County - a center of drilling in Pennsylvania - and says he has seen the effects of drilling firsthand.

"I think that we need to give communities the choice of whether or not they want to have fracking, because the risks are so huge," says Shinagawa.

Shinagawa's comments will be submitted to the official record, which will remain open until January 11, 2012.

Earlier this week the DEC announced that it was extending the deadline to comment on the state's revised Draft Supplemental Generic Impact Statement, follow pressure from anti-fracking and environmental organizations.

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