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By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nearly 2,000 members of the natural gas industry are in Philadelphia for the Shale Gas Insight convention, and it’s bringing opposition — with protesters demanding an end to fracking in Pennsylvania.

Convention organizers say economic growth and environmental safety are among the topics being addressed.

“We’re committed to doing it right,” says Steve Forde, the vice president of policy and communications for the Marcellus Shale Coalition.  “We are committed to protecting our environment, first and  foremost.  There’s not only a number of regulations but a number of best practices put into place by this industry to ensure we are operating in a sustainable way for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.”

fracking protest2  mcdev Shale Gas Conference in Center City Philadelphia Draws Protesters

(Credit: John McDevitt)


But outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center today, several hundred people gathered for a rally demanding an end to “fracking” — a technique that injects chemical-laced water at high pressure into the ground to extract oil and gas.  Critics say it hurts the Earth and sickens its occupants.

farmer  mcdev Shale Gas Conference in Center City Philadelphia Draws Protesters

(Dairy farmer Carol French. Credit: John McDevitt)

Dairy farmer Carol French of Bradford County, Pa. (right) says her drinking water has contaminants as a result of the drilling.

“After we have a shower we have rashes that occur.  Our cows drink this water and you may be drinking our milk,” she warned.

Josh Fox, an environmental activist and the maker of the documentary film Gasland, was speaking out against the natural gas industry gathering.

“These people are stealing your future and they are stealing your present,” he said, “and they can afford to rent out the convention center across the street to make a big show about economic development.  But what it really is is economic theft.”

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