Expert: Anti-drilling claims full of hyperbole

BINGHAMTON -- Anti-drilling activists have presented harrowing images -- explosive tap water, contaminated waterways, animals mysteriously losing their hair -- of what they think are the side effects of hydraulic fracturing.

But according to Syracuse University Earth Sciences professor Don Siegel, these concerns are more myth than reality.

"This is the first environmental issue that I've thrown my hat into the ring on," he said. "As a hydrogeologist, I really am almost offended by some of the opposition that's trying to paint a picture of what groundwater resources are like that is completely wrong."

Siegel, perhaps the star speaker at the event, said he "felt compelled to speak out for good information" after hearing environmentalists raise concerns he thinks are invalid. He presented a list of the "not-problems," of hydraulic fracturing.

Another local academic with experience around natural gas industry, incoming Broome Community College President Kevin Drumm, described his experience with the gas industry in Wyoming as "virtually entirely positive" during his remarks Thursday.

Drumm previously served as president of Northern Wyoming Community College District, which sits just north of two massive pockets of natural gas "which could only be dwarfed in the future, possibly, by the Marcellus Shale."

"Our campus was one of the fastest-growing campuses in the United States, and virtually all of our graduates were going out into very good-paying energy industry jobs," Drumm said. "The energy industry creates great jobs -- lots of jobs -- and we were heavily involved in our colleges in training for those jobs."

Drumm sees potential for the expansion of BCC's civil engineering, technology and health science programs if the natural gas industry comes to the Southern Tier.

Laborers Local 785 union representative Alex Parillo and Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lou Santoni also spoke in favor of the economic benefits exploitation of the Marcellus Shale might bring to the area.

Meeting touts benefits of tapping into Marcellus Shale
By Steve Reilly •sreilly@gannett.com • June 24, 2010, 10:30 pm