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Folks get prepared as oil companies look to Mississippi

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SUMMIT, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As Mississippi leaders look in the state's own back yard for oil and gas, many residents and businesses are wondering how to get a fair deal in leasing their land for drilling techniques like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. To get better prepared, a Thrive America conference is helping out.

"There's tremendous potential from the oil and gas that's here," said Charlotte Batson who founded the event.

Batson cultivated the idea after a series of meetings earlier this year proved many folks felt taken advantage off in leasing and sometimes unknowingly selling their mineral rights to oil companies.

"It was obvious that there was a huge hunger for information and some of the questions that came out of those meetings were just heartbreaking," said Batson.

This comes as Mississippi's environment is ranked one of the top places for oil and gas investments in the world. That's something Britt Herrin, Executive Director of the Pike Country Economic Development District says will be a driver for the state.

"We'd be crazy not to pursue this with all the vigor we can," said Herrin.

Herrin points to fracking in North Dakota as being a main reason for having the lowest unemployment rate in the country. He says that can easily be the case in Mississippi.

"We've got the same opportunity to create literally thousands of jobs right here in Southwest Mississippi," said Herrin.

With fracking comes controversy. Opponents have long protested claiming it will contaminate groundwater and create other environmental issues. Supporters recognize the concerns but say if drilling is done right, there's no worry.

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