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Castelli: Increase Comment Period On Fracking Plan

ALBANY, N.Y. - Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge), who represents both Pound Ridge and Lewisboro in the 89th Assembly District, is calling for the Department of

Environmental Conservation (DEC) to hold no less than a 180-day comment period, including statewide hearings, on the state’s proposed hydrofracking guidelines.

Hydrofracking is a method used for extracting natural gas from beneath the earth’s surface, and many environmentalists are concerned about the impact it could have if it is carried out in areas of the Adirondack Mountains, as it has been proposed.

Castelli said his concern increased after meeting earlier this month with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment

“After meeting with concerned citizens and environmental advocacy groups, I am strongly in support of an extension to the public comment period on the dSGEIS (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) report from 60 to 180 days.," he said.

“Additionally, as I believe all the evidence needs to be heard, I have supported and co-sponsored legislation to extend the moratorium on hydrofracking until 120 days after the completion, release of the study and report from the Federal EPA on this same subject.”

Joining Castelli’s call for a 180-day comment period were Senate Environmental Conservation Chair Mark Grisanti (R, C, I – Buffalo), Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert K. Sweeney (D – Lindenhurst), Senator David Carlucci (D –Clarkstown), Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D, I, WF – Yonkers), Assemblyman George Latimer (D – Rye City), and Assemblyman Sam Roberts (D – Syracuse).

“New York State would be foolish to rush into permitting hydraulic fracturing for natural gas,” said  Sweeney, chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. “Technical experts and average New Yorkers need time to evaluate the state’s proposal and weigh in with the Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure that if drilling moves forward we are not compromising our communities, our environment or our long-term sustainability.”

Officials calling for the 180-day-long comment period said that it will be the state’s future generations that will have to pay if the decision turns out to negatively impact the environment.

“The decision to hydrofrack in New York State is a decision that we will have to live with for generations to come,” Carlucci said. “It is imperative that New Yorkers have adequate time to review the lengthy report and submit informed comments. This is an issue that will affect all New Yorkers and their voices need to be heard.”

Over 70 groups released a letter to Governor Cuomo calling for the 180-day comment period along with public hearings in at least the same four areas where the DEC hearings on the 2009 draft fracking document where held – Binghamton, Sullivan County, New York City and Delaware County. The letter also called on state leaders to hold hearings in as many of the communities likely to be affected by fracking as possible, including, but not limited to, cities and towns in Western New York and the Hudson Valley. Many New Yorkers in those areas did not have the opportunity to attend a public hearing in 2009.

To frack a gas well, millions of gallons of water, sand, and toxic chemicals are pumped deep underground at high pressure. This fractures the rock that has trapped the gas for millennia and allows it to escape.

What’s your position about the hydrofracking plans for New York? Are you concerned or do you need to learn more? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter or Facebook :!/TheDailyPoundRidge or!/TheDailyLewisboro

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