Fracking finds supporters, opponents at SHS

The Marcellus Shale formation, the rock that is being considered for drilling, covers a vast amount of acreage. It runs under parts of Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio.

"The industry has to do the work responsibly to get the gas out, but this is a world-class deal here," Palmerton said. "There have essentially been very few problems with gas drilling in New York state."

Joseph Heath, general counsel for the Onondaga Nation, was also a presenter at the event. He responded to Palmerton's points.

"[Hydraulic fracturing] produces millions of gallons of frack fluid that can't be treated anywhere," he said.

He also expressed concern about gas pipelines being put in through eminent domain law and "compulsory integration."

"Once they lease 60 percent of the area in there they can drill whether you want them to or not," he said.

A third guest, Ed Marx, joined Heath and Palmerton for the panel discussion. Marx is the commissioner of Planning and Public Works for Tompkins County. The men were asked questions created by environmental club members.

Regarding the safety of groundwater Heath said: "This industry has accidents. It does pollute both surface water and groundwater. I live on a sole-source aquifer over in Preble, New York. I'm very worried about it."

Palmerton was less concerned.

"I can tell you as a geologist that putting water in 7,000 feet down, which is some 6,500 feet below any possible water supply, is not going to reach that water supply," Palemerton said. "It's trapped by the pressure of the rock."

A question was also raised about what is done with the "frack fluid" once it is reclaimed.

Palmerton agreed with Heath's earlier point that there were not enough facilities to treat the wastewater.

"But, once it's clear that oil and gas development can proceed, companies will come in, will develop those facilities," he said. "There's a lot of money that's out there that's ready to be invested in those facilities."

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