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May 10, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. - A coalition of upstate New York landowners seeking to lease land for natural gas drilling pressed state officials Wednesday to consider the rights of property owners as they make decisions on shale gas development.

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York was at the Capitol to present a "Declaration of Rights."

"Landowners' rights are being trampled by those with extreme political agendas," said Dan Fitzsimmons of Binghamton, president of the 70,000-member coalition. He referred to groups seeking a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects chemically treated water into drilled wells to release gas from shale.

Opponents of fracking say it poses significant health risks, including the potential to contaminate water supplies. They argue that one landowner's rights don't trump the rights of neighbors who will be subjected to the noise, traffic, environmental risks and other issues when heavy industrial development comes to a rural or residential area.

The industry and environmental groups have stepped up lobbying in Albany as the Legislature considers bills including one to ban fracking. The Department of Environmental Conservation may decide in coming months whether to allow the technology after four years of studying the environmental impacts and developing new guidelines and regulations to ensure it's done safely.

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