Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, has been making no bones about his concerns surrounding the natural gas industry, as evidenced by his recent trip to Pennsylvania with controversial “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox, whose documentary has served as a rallying cry for those against hydrofracking. Industry officials and some regulators say the documentary is a work of fiction. (Ball and Fox are pictured in Pennsylvania above.)
Now, Ball is frustrated that the industry won’t come to his hearing on hydrofracking, which uses water, sand and chemicals to split shale formations (such as the Marcellus Shale in the Southern Tier) and unlock natural gas. The senator claims more than a dozen industry experts have denied to participate in his hearing, which is set for Aug. 23 in Katonah, Westchester County.
“Their unwillingness to participate in this hearing is an indictment on the industry,” Ball said in a statement. “I want to know what they’re afraid of. What do they have to hide?”
Setting the hearing aside, Ball’s outspoken critiques of hydrofracking underscore the differences of opinion in the Senate Republican conference on the issue. Sen. Thomas Libous, for example, is a staunch hydrofracking supporter. The Binghamton Republican, who’s the deputy majority leader, represents a large portion of the Marcellus Shale region in Broome, Tioga and Chenango counties.