WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The White Plains chapter of the CItizens Campaign for the Environment invited state Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R-Goldens Bridge) to brief staff on Albany's debate over hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking.
Hydrofracking, a drilling technique that forces out nautral gas by blasting the ground with a water, sand and chemical mixture, has Castelli and some White Plains residents worried that the chemicals used in the mining process might contaminate the local water supply.
Castelli, whose district includes White Plains, sponsored legislation that turned a moratorium on hydrofracking into law under former New York Governor David Paterson, a Democrat. Although the state Assembly extended the moratorium this year, it was not taken up by the Senate and expired. However, Castelli told the Citizens Campaign for the Environment that Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, agreed not to issue any permits for drilling until the state completes an environmental impact study.
"Prudence must be our guide as we look to determine what type of drilling if any should be allowed in the Marcellus Shale region of the State, Castelli said in a statement. While drilling might create jobs and economic prosperity for upstate New York, a drilling accident could lead to environmental and economic damage that has the potential to destroy much of Westchester and New York Citys water supply.
Castelli joined other legislators this April in asking Cuomo to enhance the scope of the state's preliminary environmental study, which is called a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study (dSGEIS). In mid-May Cuomo announced that the dSGEIS would be revised to monitor oversight policies brought up by the legislators.
Beginning in late August, New Yorkers will be invited to suggest improvements to the dSGEIS during a 60-day public comment period. However, Castelli and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment aim to extend the public comment period.
"We want to see the public comment period extended for 180 days. Right now therere no public hearings scheduled and we want to see them across the state in Westchester, New York City, Syracuse, Buffalo, everywhere. Because this really affects everyone in the entire state and everyone should have the opportunity to make their voice heard," said Matt Wallach, a program coordinator for the non-for-profit Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "There have been numerous times documented throughout the country where the gas or the chemicals have gotten into peoples water supplies, and we dont believe with the current lack of regulation in place now that it would be safe for New York."
What are your thoughts on hydrofracking? Do you think it could provide more jobs in a tough market? Or are you concerned about how hydrofracking may contaminate the environment? Email thoughts to email@example.com and we'll include your responses in future coverage.
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