2011-10-12 / Political Page

Addabbo Opposes Cuomo’s Natural Gas Drilling Plan

In unusually strong language, state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. charged that Governor Andrew Cuomo is rushing into dangerous territory by planning to issue proposed regulations for drilling in the Catskill region near the reservoirs which contain most of New York City’s drinking water.

Barging into the controversy over the anticipated process of hydrofracking to remove valuable deposits of natural gas— a process which environmentalists warn could contaminate nearby waters— Addabbo pointed out that public comment on the proposed regulations will end on December 12 and: “His administration should wait until after the final study is completed before drawing up the regulations.”

The Howard Beach lawmaker asks, “How do we store and treat millions of gallons of wastewater laced with potentially toxic chemicals that are expelled via fracking?

Addabbo points out, “Most New York sewage plants are not currently equipped to get rid of the wastewater. There should also be some way of phasing in drilling permits so that projects do not overwhelm rural communities. The state regulators must closely monitor such projects.”

Addabbo also notes that Cuomo did put some critical areas off limits to the drilling process, the watershed of New York City and Syracuse. However, the governor’s plan “proposes to limit drilling within 1,000 feet of tunnels and aqueducts that deliver water to those cities,” said Addabbo, which is “very different from the seven-mile buffer zone that New York City recommended”. Addabbo also notes that Cuomo did put some critical areas off limits to the drilling process, the watershed of New York City and Syracuse. However, the governor’s plan “proposes to limit drilling within 1,000 feet of tunnels and aqueducts that deliver water to those cities,” said Addabbo, which is “very different from the seven-mile buffer zone that New York City recommended”. Addabbo prefaced these remarks in the statement he issued last week by briefly summarizing the situation surrounding the issue whether New York state should allow natural gas drilling and removal by using the hydrofracking process and thus open up the prospect of creating thousands of jobs to end years of economic woes in the upstate area.

The lawmaker acknowledges that the governor supports drilling for natural gas using the fracking method blasting water, sand and chemicals into the underground deposits of shale and rock to tap the natural gas. This could create about 37,000 jobs by the governor’s estimates, Addabbo says; and the governor has long-vowed that the fracking “would not be at the expense of human health or adversely impact the environment”.

Addabbo also notes that Cuomo did put some critical areas off limits to the drilling process, the watershed of New York City and Syracuse. However, the governor’s plan “proposes to limit drilling within 1,000 feet of tunnels and aqueducts that deliver water to those cities”, says Addabbo, which is “very different from the seven-mile buffer zone that New York City recommended”.

Critics of the governor’s plan which previously called attention to that fact have been Councilmembers James Gennaro

(D–Fresh Meadows) and Peter Vallone

Jr. (D–Astoria), among others, and are now joined by Addabbo, who stated: “The governor must be cautious not too hasty, otherwise gas drilling could damage the lands, communities and water quality for millions of New Yorkers.”

Addabbo states also, “Families in other states—Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania (which shares the border where the natural gas-rich areas are located), that have rushed into drilling for natural gas via hydrofracking, tell of filling jars with brown, odor-ridden water that comes out of their household water taps.”

He admits, “My fear is their story becomes the story of our families…Not only is our drinking water in danger, but the process itself is flawed. Hydrofracking accidents in Pennsylvania in the summer of last year took the lives of three workers. all this can be avoided for our people.”

Despite all these horror stories, Addabbo further on admits, “I am not against drilling for gas, but I did support the idea of holding off on all hydrofracking drilling until the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation completed its report as to the safety of the process. I believe we should rationally postpone further drilling until we know more about the safety concerns.”

Based on all of the foregoing, Addabbo states, “Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s wanting to lift the moratorium and cancel a bipartisan and common-sense bill passed by the legislature in 2010. That bill was based on factual information gathered from environmental advocates, university experts and community that met the real-world concerns of workers, families and farmers and that would have protected the drinkable water supply for over 12 million New Yorkers.

“I remain convinced that the unrestricted hydrofracking activity will create clear, present and potentially permanent danger to the health and safety of millions of New Yorkers.”

Addabbo then pointed a finger at the energy industry for asking taxpayers to believe their drilling practices are safe and clean, but to rebut this, he said, all we have to do is recall the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana to recognize the importance of fully understanding the impact of drilling before breaking ground.

Addabbo also pointed out that a recent Quinnipiac University poll supported drilling for gas in the Adirondack region by a narrow margin, based on economic concerns, while upstate voters were opposed to it, but also by a close margin.

Statewide, he said, voters believe the drilling will create jobs and they call for a tax on the drilling firms.

Adding more fuel to the fire of controversy boiling up over the possibility that Cuomo might allow extensive fracking in the Adirondack area, the Daily News yesterday reported that New York City’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection is casting a critical eye on possible future drilling activity near the reservoirs holding the city’s drinking water supply there.

The paper’s editorial asked whether Commissioner Carter Strickland is “raising critical questions about plans for intensive natural gas drilling upstate: could tremors from the process known as hydrofracking damage the city’s underground aqueducts, disrupting their all-important billion-gallon-a-day flow”?

The editorial goes on to say Strickland’s “concern must be thoroughly studied before the governor gives the natural gas industry the go-ahead to drill away”.

But, it goes on, asking what effect might it have on aging water tunnels. The question must be answered now because it never came up before, says the piece.

The editorial says that to be on the safe side, Strickland’s DEP had asked the state to prohibit fracking within seven miles of the city’s reservoirs, but the state responded by prohibiting drilling within 1,000 feet of the city’s water storage properties.

Strickland, appearing at a hearing last week, called the city’s barrier inadequate.

And so the controversy continues at a raging pace. Cuomo is caught in a bind because giving the natural gas industry the go-ahead on the fracking provides one answer to the state’s moribund economic woes and can add jobs and revenues to the bleak picture presently.

But on the other hand, the governor must proceed at his peril because many people are watching his every move in this situation.

However, Cuomo is not exactly unaware of the dangers he’s facing with extensive fracking.

In a brief blurb published in one city newspaper last week, it reports that the governor has said the state would be paid for the regulation and oversight, if it allows the hydrofracking.

Cuomo was quoted as adding: “If you were going to do fracking, then would you put in place the resources and safeguards you need to do fracking? Of course.”

NEW CROWLEY WEB SITE: Billed as a user-friendly one-stop shop for information and constituent service provider, a new Web site for Congressmember Joseph Crowley, www.crowley.house.gov, was launched last week.

The lawmaker said the site was designed especially to serve his 7th Congressional District covering parts of Queens and The Bronx. It includes a redesigned navigation structure, interactive features to help constituents communicate with him and information about the work he is doing in Congress at any given moment or in the district.

Visitors to the site can also access the congressmember’s social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Crowley, in announcing the new Web site, stated: “It’s a true honor to represent the people of The Bronx and Queens in Congress and I am always looking for new ways to communicate and connect with them. Whether you are searching for information about a particular issue; interested in checking out my latest photos and videos, or need help working with a federal agency, my new Web site is a one-stop shop. The 21st century has opened the door to so many new ways to share ideas and communicate in real-time.

And, I hope all constituents take the time to check out my new Web site and keep in touch with me both in person and online.”

Crowley said the Web site would also allow constituents to send questions directly to him, watch his TV interviews and speeches. Visitors to the site can also learn more about critical issues facing New York and the entire country , such as jobs and the economy, education and health care.

Constituents will also be able to sign up for Crowley’s newsletter. Residents without access to the Internet are encouraged to contact his district offices at 718-931- 1400 (The Bronx) or 718 779-1400 (Queens).

SCHUMER’S TAX PLAN: In an effort to improve the chance for passage of President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill getting approved, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) proposed his tax millionaires only to pay for the job development plan.

The bill was aimed at Democrats who were balking at Obama’s own proposal that would target several wage-earning groups, and which Republican senators also opposed.

Schumer called for a five percent surcharge on every income over $1 million, including salaries, dividends and capital gains. It would affect about 317,000 taxpayers, less than one percent of the population, and would collect about $445 billion over 10 years.

Schumer stated, “Drawing the line at a million dollars is the right thing to do.” He added that the families earning $250,000 or $300,000 under the president’s taxing plan, wouldn’t do the trick.

“They are not rich, and in large parts of the country, that kind of income does not get you a big home or lots of vacations or anything else that’s associated with wealth in America.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (DNevada), who wouldn’t schedule a vote on Obama’s original proposal because several Democrats indicated they wouldn’t vote for it and couldn’t overcome the Republicans’ opposition, didn’t indicate if and when he might put Schumer’s plan to a test.

AVELLA LAUDS CUOMO’S ‘ACCESS’ EXEC ORDER: In an effort to give non-English speaking immigrants an easier time dealing with the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo last week signed an executive order requiring all state agencies that deal directly with the public to offer forms and instructions in six foreign languages including Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, Chinese, Russian, French and French Creole. These are the six most common non-English languages spoken in New York, according to census figures.

In issuing the order, the governor said: “This executive order ensures that non- English speakers receive equal access to programs, services and opportunities offered by their state government.”

Among those hailing the order were Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Hispanic and other lawmakers and immigrant groups. Federal funds will cover most of the costs involved and the state will contribute roughly $1.5 million, Cuomo said.

State Senator Tony Avella (D-Northeast Queens) congratulated the governor. He said that last March he had sent the governor a letter signed by 22 senate colleagues requesting critical state government agencies to provide interpretation services and translation of vital documents.

Avella said he applauded Cuomo for taking a vital step to ensure effective communication with the public.

He stated: “This order will provide a clean and consistent framework on how to implement language access requirements that are mandatory under federal law and will dramatically improve the efficiency of state agencies while enhancing the well-being of all New Yorkers.”

MARSHALL THANKS P.O. WORKERS: At a recent Save America’s Postal Service rally at Congressmember Gary Ackerman’s office in Bayside, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall voiced her support for postal workers faced with possible layoffs, facility closings, cutbacks in service and benefit losses. Ackerman had proposed a bill aimed at helping to avoid or ameliorate job or service losses.

Marshall assured the workers that she supported them and Ackerman’s legislation. “Your jobs, benefits and pensions could all be at stake,” she warned. The services you provide to the more than two million people of Queens are vital and irreplaceable.”

She concluded, saying the postal service needs to take a long, hard look at its operation and all alternatives before dismantling a system that has served us so well for so long.

BRAUNSTEIN’S HALLOWEEN CONTEST: Young students in the age two through five bracket can win prizes in a Halloween essay and drawing contest being sponsored by Assemblymember Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside). Enter a drawing or some story about the upcoming special day and maybe win a prize, Braunstein said.

Prizes will be awarded to winners in each grade and a state Certificate of Merit will be awarded to each participant. To get in the contest, print your name, grade, class and school on your entry and submit with your essay or drawing to Braunstein’s district office at 213-33 39th Ave., Suite 238, Bayside, N.Y. 11361 or email at braunstein@Assembly.state.ny.us by November 1. Any questions, call his office at 718 357-3588.

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