Several hundred environmental activists and homeowners packed the sidewalks outside a natural gas industry conference Wednesday and called for a moratorium on drilling, which they said was contaminating water, harming animals and creating a public health hazard.

The boisterous “Shale Gas Outrage” rally was organized by a coalition of environmental, political and labor groups, including Philadelphia-based Protecting Our Waters. Hundreds of protesters lined the sidewalk outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center and chanted “Shale gas outrage” and “Ban it now.” Some carried signs and T-shirts with slogans such as “What’s in your water?”

“We cannot, we will not sacrifice our water for gas,” Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said to a round of cheers.  

The groups were calling for a ban on drilling in the gas-rich underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale.

The formation runs beneath Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and portions of other states.

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