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Anti-Fracking Initiative Launches in the Hudson Valley

In New York today, in Kingston, a new anti-fracking group announced its formation. A number of environmentalists and elected officials are on board with the initiative that stems from the Hudson Valley.

Hudson Valley United Against Fracking is the latest effort to oppose hydraulic fracturing in New York State, while calling for more in the way of renewable energy. Former Hudson Valley Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey, in his first major public appearance since retiring from office in January, says he just penned a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asking him to wait for the results of a study from the Environmental Protection Agency on the impacts of fracking before deciding whether to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the state. Hinchey had helped to secure funding for the EPA study in 2010, and the results are due in 2014. He says it will be the first comprehensive, independent federal study on fracking.

The EPA study is entitled “Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources.” Fracking is a drilling method to extract natural gas found deep in shale formations. Singer-songwriter and Hudson Valley resident Natalie Merchant is part of the new group but has long been opposed to fracking.

She and her partner Jon Bowermaster put together a concert protest film last year entitled “Dear Governor Cuomo”. She says the plan is for more people to see the film.

Jeff Rumpf is the executive director of environmental group Clearwater, a group whose name is synonymous with musician and activist Pete Seeger. Here’s Rumpf talking about what Seeger recently did on the issue of fracking.

And here’s Democratic Ulster County Executive Michael Hein.

Karen Moreau is executive director of the New York State Petroleum Council.

She says it’s the landowners in the Southern Tier who have the wealth of natural gas under their feet, and cannot reap any monetary benefit because of delayed decisions.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah has been looking at health studies, and said back in March that he planned to make a recommendation to the governor in weeks on whether the state should approve hydraulic fracturing.

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