Some 2,000 people gathered in Philadelphia on Wednesday to protest fracking, a process of natural gas drilling that critics say is environmentally damaging. The protest was staged during an energy conference opened by former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, who called called the environmental and public health concerns about fracking "phony hysteria." Fracking, which supports say could reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil, uses chemical-laced water and sand to release natural gas from underground shale. Envorinmentalist say the process threatens water supplies. Also on Wednesday, New York's Department of Environmental Conservation extended a public comment period on fracking under pressure from environmentalists. The DEC wants to end a one-year ban on fracking in an efforts to harvest natural gas reserves from the Marcellus Shale, a formation located beneath Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia.
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