WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R-Goldens Bridge) told an environment group last week that the state needs more time to examine the issue of hydrofracking before letting any such mining projects move forward.
Castelli, who represents the 89th Assembly District, which includes Lewisboro and Pound Ridge, spoke to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment in White Plains on Thursday about the controversial mining proposal. Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a mining technique that is used to drill for natural gas. Many people are concerned that the chemicals used during the drilling process could contaminate the downstate water supply.
In 2011, after hosting the regions first public hearing on the subject at the Katonah library, I sponsored legislation to enact a moratorium on hydrofracking which was signed into law by then Governor Paterson, Castelli told the group. We passed legislation to extend that moratorium this year, and although it was not taken up by the senate and has since expired, the governor has said he will not be issuing any permits for drilling until after the States Preliminary Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Study (dSGEIS) is completed.
Castelli said this will give state agencies more time to thoroughly examine the mining technique and determine its potential impact on the states natural resources.
It is imperative that we evaluate fully the potential impact of this procedure and utilize science, not conjecture, to determine the real environmental cost of drilling, he said.
This past April, Castelli signed a letter by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton urging Governor Cuomo to enhance the scope of current oversight policies being reviewed by the DEC to determine the environmental and health impacts associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling. In mid-May, the governor announced that the DECs revised dSGEIS would receive the enhanced oversight policies they sought.
The dSGEIS was released in late July, and contained numerous recommendations, some of which mirror the legislation I have been working on, and some of which do not, Castelli said. The draft will be reviewed during a sixty day public comment period in the coming months, and then further edited before a final set of guidelines are released. However, I would be fully supportive of measures to extend the comment period to at least 120 days, or more.
Castelli told the group that the state must be prudent as it determine what, if any, type of drilling should be allowed in the Marcellus Shale region of the state.
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, he said.
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