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Advocacy groups tie fracking to campaign cash

About a dozen representatives of Citizen Action, The Sierra Club, and several other public advocacy groups gathered in front of the Mahoney  State Office Building in downtown Buffalo Monday to reiterate their strong opposition to hydrofracking in New York.

Speakers said the natural gas industry holds far too much sway over local and state politicians with their campaign contributions. They said as a result, leaders are turning a deaf ear to the concerns of health and environmental advocates who contend that fracking ruins the groundwater supply.

"It's a toxic process that brings with it water contamination, smog to rural areas that rivals giant cities, health issues to those nearby, and its only economic benefits are short-term. Why is our state not even willing to spend $100,000, less than one-millionth of the New York State budget spending, for a public health impact study?," asked Sarah Buckley, co-founder of the group, Protecting Our Water Rights.

The groups contend the natural gas industry has contributed more than $1.3 million in campaign contributions to various local and state elected officials in a bid to affect their votes on the controversial practice.

Robert Ciesielski with the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club says New York cannot be allowed to become another Pennsylvania.

"Its water and air and the health of its land and citizens are being destroyed under the leadership of their governor, Tom Corbett.  A study by Common Cause has revealed that Corbett has received at least $1.6 million in political contributions by the hydrofracking industry," Ciesielski said.

The future of fracking has been stalled in New York for several months now as the State Department of Environmental Conservation continues to plow through more than  60,000 public comments collected during an environmental review.

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