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Source: Merrick Patch

Gubernatorial Candidates Debate Environmental Issues

Part two of five-part debate at Hofstra focuses on New York's environmental issues.


Posted: October 20, 2010
Originally Published: October 20, 2010

Hofstra University, the site of the 2008 Presidential debate between then-Sen. Barack Obama and Arizona Sen. John McCain, again played host to a debate Monday night, as all seven New York governor candidates faced each other for the first–and seemingly last–time before the Nov. 2 election.

Co-sponsored by News 12 and Newsday, the debate was held in front of a live audience of community members and Hofstra students.

Patch will be bringing you more coverage of the debate over the next few days.

Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment voiced her concerns to the candidates about the environment, degradation of the oceans and drinking water and cuts in the environmental enforcement and monitoring.

"What would your administration do to make sure that the economic success of New York is consistent and complementary to clean water, clean air, clean beaches and open parks?" she asked.

Democratic candidate Andrew Cuomo began by quoting a Native American proverb, "We don't inherit the earth from our parents we are loaned the earth from our children." Cuomo then stressed how "paramount" it is for the government to act as environmental stewards.

"Exploring renewables I think is the future, social and great economic future for this thing, we're doing allot in upstate New York with wind power with solar power, we need to do a better job with transmissions," he said. "We need to get the power from upstate New York… and bring it down to the metropolitan area."

Charles Barron of the Freedom Party had barely been allotted his speaking time before taking a shot a Cuomo.

"Well you notice that Mr. Cuomo didn't say he would ban hydraulic fracturing because his business cronies make too much money on that," Barron said.

The Marcellus Shale Play is mile-deep reservoir, which spans from New York through Pennsylvania and into West Virginia. Experts believe the reservoir could yield 400 trillion gallons of natural gas— 20 times the current national annual output. Hydraulic fracturing, or "hydrofracking," is utilized by drilling companies to access the Marcellus gas. The process mixes water with a combination of sand and toxic chemicals, which are injected into shale deep in the grown at a high pressure and has been used in several other states including Pennsylvania but environmental activists protest claiming that it can be directly linked with earthquakes, aboveground explosions, and the pollution of groundwater.

Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich disagreed with Barron's accusation, but also landed a jab at Cuomo.

"I hate to defend Mr. Cuomo, but actually while he's taken a tremendous amount of money in special interest contributions, I don't believe it comes from the hydrofracking industry…it mostly comes from real estate interests in New York City," Redlich said.

"We call for a ban," said Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins. "When the moratorium ends in May it's going to be drill, baby, drill!"

Hawkins criticized Cuomo's energy plan, in particular the Attorney General's plan to replace coal with natural gas and called for progressive tax reforms to fund the DEC and a green new deal to invest in info structure to put New York Citizens back to work in "green collar" jobs.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Republican candidate Carl Paladino expressed his support of hydraulic fracturing.

"Hydrofracking has proved to be a long developed technology today, in Pennsylvania and Ohio they're using it, and they're using it and they're making a lot of money," Paladino said.

"We have studied it and studied it and studied it, and now they're in another study to determine weather the New York City watershed would be affected and to determine the risk of that," he said. "That's fine… but the area to the west of that study should be opened up immediately for hydrofracking."

Anti-Prohibition Party candidate Kristin Davis agreed with Paladino.

"We are sitting on millions of dollars in natural gas and oil and I think that there environmentally safe ways to extract this," she said.

Redlich also felt that New York could benefit from hydraulic fracturing, but made a point to remind the audience that "it's not perfect" and that "there are risks."

"We don't have allot of good choices, hydraulic fracturing (while it's not perfect) is the best choice as a way to get energy," Redlich said.