'Fracking' Discussed at Mamaroneck Forum

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Lorrane Walsh's son, Douglas Berger, attends Mamaroneck High School. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Lorrane Walsh decided to attend Tuesday's event after watching "Gas Land." Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Elisabeth Radow is chair of League of Women Voters NYS Hydraulic Fracturing Committee. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Elisabeth Radow hosted the "Why Natural Gas Drilling in Upstate NY Impacts Westchester County Residents" event Tuesday. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

MAMARONECK, N.Y. – Lorraine Walsh brought her son Douglas to the Mamaroneck Library Tuesday night, where the League of Women Voters of Larchmont/Mamaroneck (LWV) hosted a lecture and Q-and-A session on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking.”

Like several members of the standing-room only audience, the Larchmont residents learned about the practice by watching the 2010 documentary “Gasland.” They attended Tuesday's event to learn more about the practice.

Albert Appleton, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Preservation, shared the stage with Elisabeth Radow, president of the Larchmont/Mamaroneck LWV and host of the event, titled, "Why Natural Gas Drilling in Upstate New York Impacts Westchester County Residents.”

"Fracking is about the past against the future," said Appleton, who supports funding green energy. "It's hard to give up on a success, but fossil fuel is no longer a success. We now have alternatives."

The environmental consultant explained that fracking involves injecting mass quantities of a chemical fluid underground in order to create enough pressure to shatter rock layers and release pockets of natural gas. To do that, he said, requires a chemical that turns the fracking fluid poisonous. 

While advocates of fracking argue it creates thousands of jobs and makes the nation more energy independent, those opposed, like Appleton, argue the environmental impact, particularly contamination of fresh water sources, would be too severe.

"I'm very concerned about New York State allowing fracking," said Jeffrey L. Levin, a Scarsdale resident. "The profit is minimal compared to the costs that we will be stuck paying. And by 'we,' I mean the taxpayers."

The NYS Department of Environment Conservation released a revised, 1,500-page report on its environmental impact Sept. 7. The public has until Dec. 12 to comment. 

Appleton and Radow urged people to write letters to NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo to address the adverse impacts of fracking. Also attending the event was Ellen Weininger, who drafted letters for audience members to sign and send to Cuomo as part of a letter-writing campaign called "A Million Fracking Letter.”

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