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Local Officials Discuss Natural Gas Drilling

RYE, N.Y. -- Assemblyman George Latimer and State Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer attended a recent documentary screening of "Gasland" at the Rye Free Reading Room to discuss the controversial natural gas drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

Both Latimer and Oppenheimer expressed their opposition to the practice, which 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.

Supporters of fracking argue that it alleviates energy dependence on foreign oil and creates thousands jobs locally, but detractors are concerned about its environmental impact, particularly contamination of fresh water sources.

A moratorium on fracking was lifted by Governor Andrew Cuomo in July and the Department of Environment Conservation released a 1,500-page report Sept. 7 on the practice's environmental impact and established a 90-day public comment period before any drilling can continue.

Latimer, Oppenheimer and local activists are urging people to educate themselves about the issue and to write letters to Cuomo to speak out against fracking.

Community activist group Westchester For Change , which presented the screening and Q&A session, is supporting a letter-writing campaign called " A Million Fracking Letters ."

"It's going to take an outpouring of public support to stop this," said Latimer.

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