Armed to the teeth with angry puns, hundreds of New Yorkers attended the Department of Conservation's fracking forum yesterday in Tribeca. Of the 40 to speak within the first few hours of the public comment period, just one man, Arthur J. Kremer of New York A.R.E.A., expressed his support for high volume hydraulic fracturing in upstate New York. During his three minutes, Kremer was interrupted by boos and hisses from the audience as he elaborated on the economic benefits of the controversial drilling method and asserted that over 50,000 jobs would be created should the plan to build and operate over 32,000 wells proceed. "If you travel to Pennsylvania, as I have," he said, "you will see that it's not an area of desolation, it's not a wasteland."

Kremer conceded that the obvious concerns of citizens—like flammable tap water—are "understandable" but insisted that "if we say no hydro-fracking, no nuclear, and no other forms of energy, then get ready to turn out the lights. It's not fair for downstate people to impose their will on the people of upstate New York who want it and who need it. It's supported by the farm bureau. It's supported by landowners. It's supported by the Boy Scouts of America who have camps in upstate New York where they would lease out a portion of their land to raise revenue."

Upstate New York may be a fine spot for the Boy Scouts to set up camp now, but as New York-based Sierra Club member Amy Roholt put it, "Will people still go upstate when it smells like Newark?" New York resident Stephanie Winslow, a business analyst with an M.B.A from Harvard University wasn't sold on the figures presented by the DEC. "If we did the numbers properly, we'd realize that it's a losing idea. Tourism, agriculture, wine and beer: The job losses to these industries have not been netted against potential job gains," she said. A report presented by Food & Water Watch finds the DEC's projections on job creation misleading because it "overstated shale gas job creation potential in New York by a factor of 10, or about 900 percent." In other words, the report concludes that current New York residents can expect only 195 new oil and gas industry job opportunities during the first year based on an "average" gas shale development scenario.

Echoing the sentiments of many others in attendance, actor and upstate resident Mark Ruffalo asked, "In the face of science, why are we wasting so much state money, time and energy when what this state wants and needs is renewable energy? The International Energy Agency released a report saying we have five years to stop climate change before it becomes unstoppable," he said, addressing the moderator and DEC General Counsel Steven Russo. "You said you believe in climate change, yet your actions smack of denial. Why is New York state developing another fossil fuel when climate change is so real?" Also speaking at the forum was award-winning director Josh Fox. Denouncing the entire premise of the hearing, Fox declared that the question shouldn't be "how should we frack New York," but rather should we do it at all. His Oscar-nominated documentary feature Gasland is largely credited with increasing public opposition to hydro-fracking.

A spokesperson for the DEC said the hearing process would be extended until January 11th. "While today's extension of the comment period may seem inconsequential to some, it is in fact a continuation of the existing four-year ban on economic opportunity for Upstate New York," the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York said in a statement. If the DEC's proposed regulations pass, new drilling permits could be issued as soon as 2012.