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Group to Cuomo: 'Ban Fracking Now'

A mix of locals including residents from a group called Transition Katonah/Bedford, among others, participated in the Mt. Kisco rally, demanding a complete ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas drilling.

Dozens came to a Wednesday rally in Mount Kisco, calling for a statwide ban on the controversial hydraulic fracturing method for extracting natural gas.

The crowd included a mix of citizens and interfaith clergy, who worried that permitting the technique - it's commonly called "fracking" - could lead to contaminated water and soil and threats to personal and livestock health. The attendees came from around Westchester County and beyond.

Also participating was a local group calling themselves Transition Katonah/Bedford—whose mission is to "create a more resilient and sustainable community of friends and neighbors," according to their website.

The focus of the extraction technique has been around the Marcellus Shale rock formation upstate, with is the subject of a state environmental review of the process. Fracking involves a combination of horizontal drilling and creating fractures in underground rock, in order to bring up the gas.

"Please do not expel all living life from the garden of Eden," said Marge Schab, a resident of Remsemburg, a Long Island community.

At the rally, attendees formed a circle around a water fountain in front of , taking part in protest songs and prayers. Among the clergy offering supportive prayers were Rev. Eileen Weglarz of and Minister Michael Tino of the (Video of their prayers is attached).

Attendees also read anecdotes from people out of state, in places where fracking is allowed, who claim that the practice caused health problems for them or their family.

The event was organized by an ad hoc group called Concerned Citizens of New York State, which includes three Westchester residents. The purpose of locating the rally in Mount Kisco is because of proximity to where Cuomo lives. The governor, a New Castle resident, lives near the Mount Kisco border, and according to published reports, is known for shopping in the village.

“We want to show Governor Cuomo that we are citizens like he is, of this state and of this county," said Susan Van Dolsen, a Rye resident who is one of the group's three organizers. "We have kids that are growing up here, just like he does.”

She added: “And there are so many other ways that produce energy and jobs that are much more wholesome and healthy for the kids that are growing up here and for the country, and that we want him to reconsider his thought about fracking and not to frack New York.”

Opponents worry that by allowing for fracking, Earth's resources will be disrupted, and feel that the risk outweighs the benefit.

"So remember, water is a sacred right and we all need water to live," said Carol DeAngelo, from Ardsley.

Currently, there is effectively a moratorium in place that prevents issuing new permits for the practice. The freeze will last until the state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has a final iteration of an environmental impact statement assessing the impact.

The DEC has released multiple drafts in recent years. The last iteration includes proposed rules, such as blocking fracking in the watersheds for New York City and Syracuse. However, the agency has yet to release a final environmental study.

George Klein, who chairs a Hudson Valley chapter of the Sierra Club, felt it was unfair that the rest of the state does not get the same status as the New York City and Syracuse regions.

Van Dolsen felt that simply regulating the practice of fracking still allows for too much of a risk. In particular, she worried about possibly failure of cement casings meant to stop well fracking fluids from getting into groundwater. She also did not feel that there are enough regulators.

“So basically you’re designing a system that’s designed to fail," she said.

Suzannah Glidden, a North Salem resident and co-organizer, felt that Cuomo is not listening to his constituents. At the rally, there were several posters warning the governor that his actions on the issue could have consequences in 2014, when he is up for re-election.

As the rally drew to a close, the group broke out into a soft chant, with the lyrics of "Governor Cuomo, ban fracking now, ban fracking now."

Catherine Wachs August 03, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Thanks for covering the rally. This issue is so important, yet the majority of folks know nothing about it. Get educated at http://www.amillionfrackingletters.com/ and send a letter to Cuomo.
Don Pachner August 03, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Good to see coverage of this rally about one of the most pressing environmental issues facing New Yorkers at the moment. Indications are that Cuomo will not push to ban hydrofracking in all of NY state. We need him to do this. As another poster has pointed out, important for all New Yorkers whom agree this could result in serious and irreparable harm to New York's environment should let governor Cuomo know through letters, emails and phone calls to the executive chamber.
Gristina Terziani August 03, 2012 at 07:22 PM
As long as Cuomo and other politicians support the big, corporate lie of Economic GRowth, there will always be Indian Point and Fracking to endanger all life on Earth! The LIE OF ECONOMIC GROWTH must be stopped. Economic growth and population growth are bad for the environment! and doomed to fail because we live on a planet with limited resources. at 7 Billion we consume 150% of what the Earth can replace ina year! That means we are depleting our resources as our population increases, which will lead to an exponential starvation of our species. Read more about carrying capacity before you growth pushers, who may be reading this, snap back with uninformed insults against environmentalists. Using Endangered SPecies Condoms from the center for biological diversity and Growth busters is 5 times more effective, according to a study by London economists, in preventing pollution. Family planning and birth control are peaceful ways for everyone on Earth to quickly correct enviro problems. Open your minds.

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