Rosie the Frac’er!

Members of the Women's Energy Leadership Coalition from jobs-hungry upstate regions appeared Tuesday at the Capitol to support natural gas development as a way to increase growth.

The gathering of Southern Tier and Central New York residents was designed to send the message to lawmakers as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo that shale gas drilling has supporters, participants said.

"The people in this group have really felt disenfranchised for the past four years," said Karen Moreau, executive director of the state Petroleum Council, which joined the Independent Oil & Gas Association in backing the effort.

The natural gas reserves held in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in the economically depressed areas has drawn keen interest from natural gas companies offering landowners cash for drilling leases.

The gathering — the latest by pro-frac'ing voices — was meant to rebut protests to the technique. Some who participated spoke of the need for jobs and economic development in rural areas.

Others said they feared criticism from neighbors who oppose frac'ing.

"I got very strong pushback and was quiet for a while," said Uni Blake, a toxicologist and environmental scientist who lives near Cooperstown in Otsego County.

Blake has since spoken on behalf of the drillers association at legislative hearings on frac'ing.

The need for jobs and economic development prompted her to speak out, Blake said.