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New York Coalition Says Fracking Can Be Done Safely

A new coalition of 16 community, landowner and business groups -- including several construction companies -- has organized to convey the message that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can be performed safely in New York state and would provide jobs and economic growth.

Clean Growth Now (CGN), whose members reportedly have strong political ties in Albany, also says it will urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to allow the practice.

"There's been a lot of talk, a lot of noise and even the occasional dose of hysteria," Mike Elmendorf, one of CGN's founding members and the president of Associated General Contractors of New York State, told the Associated Press. "We took a very serious and objective look at the issue."

Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York Inc., concurred. "What's at stake in working together to ensure our resources are produced safely?" Fitzsimmons asked. "Just look across our border to Pennsylvania and see the prosperity -- well paying jobs, new infrastructure, greater tax revenue -- they're reaping as a result of natural gas activity."

Cherie Messore, spokeswoman for the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York (IOGA), told NGI's Shale Daily her organization looked forward to working with CGN. "It's encouraging to see another group emerge that recognizes the value of shale gas development and the economic impact it will have in New York State, while advocating for workforce development and sound environmental practices, too," Messore said Friday.

Robert Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates and an appointee of DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens to the High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Advisory Panel, told NGI's Shale Daily he was amused by CGN touting itself as a grassroots movement.

"They're trying to make it sound like the gas industry is the David in this fight, rather than the Goliath," Moore said Friday. "When you look at the people [the gas industry] put out there to talk about their new grassroots movement...these are some of the most politically connected insiders in Albany. They've [also] hired half of the lobbyists in Albany. I think their message is getting out there just fine, so it's amusing to see this group come forward."

But Moore indicated that environmental advocacy groups such as his would be willing to discuss the issues surrounding fracking with CGN in the future.

"I think there really is some potential for common ground, if [CGN is] serious about it," Moore said. "There should be an honest discussion about hydrofracking and what it could mean to this state, positive and negative. Quite frankly, the only thing that has really been discussed is the positive. I think it's disingenuous to say the economic benefits haven't gotten their fair share of attention. In fact, I would say from the state's perspective it has gotten quite a bit of attention."

Other CGN members include the Associated Builders and Contractors (Empire State Chapter), Business Council of New York State, Inc., Construction Contractors Association of the Hudson Valley, Construction Industry Council of Westchester and Hudson Valley, Inc., Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce, International Union of Operating Engineers, Latino National Republican Coalition of New York State, National Federation of Independent Business New York, National Hispanic Assembly of Orange County, National Hispanic Construction Association, New York State Black Chamber of Commerce, New York State Economic Development Council, Northeast Council of Carpenters and Southern Tier Economic Growth.

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