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Outrage Erupts After Energy Committee Evaluating Dangerous Gas Drilling Practice Is Stacked With 'Experts' on Industry Payroll

All but one member of the group has financial ties to the oil and gas industry.

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At the very least, the scientists called for chairman Deutch to step down. According to the Environmental Working Group, Deutch was paid more than $1.4 million between 2006-2009 by two top natural gas companies. Over 50 lawmakers from New York also wrote to Chu to show their disapproval of the panel. New York is set to be the next battleground state for fracking. A current temporary moratorium on fracking may be lifted soon by Governor Cuomo, even as a growing coalition of organizations calls for a statewide ban.

In an interview for AlterNet, Sabrina Artel recently spoke with Ramsay Adams, head of the New York-based Mountainkeeper organization about how his group came to support a statewide ban on fracking. Adams told Artel: 

"Our position from the get-go was, we need to learn as much as we can about this. We need to make sure that we understand whether or not it can be done safely, and that was the key -- can they do this safely? Is the technology safe? If there are the best regulations in the world and the best practices in the world, is there a way that fracking is safe? And that was a very honest approach to this problem. We had a theory that it could be proven safe -- let's prove it to ourselves. And so, we spent three years trying to prove to ourselves that it could be done safely, and what we learned is that it can't be done safely; the technology is just not there. It is incredibly dangerous; it is incredibly toxic."

So far it looks like the Obama administration is going to continue to let the gas industry get a free pass to pollute at the expense of public health and the environment. One of the last hopes from the federal government could come from the EPA, which is set to issue its own report on fracking in 2012.

Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet and editor of the new book Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource . You can follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan.

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