The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation backed out of a community discussion of gas drilling in Oneonta, N.Y. last night. According to local news reports, about 450 people attended the meeting, including speakers from the region's water boards as well as geologists.

The Daily Star reported the DEC canceled its participation because Gov. David Paterson has ordered a supplemental environmental impact statement to assess how drilling will affect the area.

Proposals to drill for gas in the Marcellus Shale, which lies 7,000 to 9,000 feet below the surface in southern New York state, are raising concern because the drilling process uses potentially toxic chemicals and millions of gallons of water. New York City is especially worried about possible water contamination, because the city gets most of its drinking water from reservoirs above the Marcellus Shale.