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You can participate in open debate on hydro-fracking

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

JUST ACROSS THE BORDER: A uniquely styled debate on the future of “hydro-fracking” in New York’s Marcellus Shale region is set for tomorrow night at the Nyack Village Theater in downtown Nyack — and all are welcome to participate.

“This is one of today’s most pressing environmental issues, the question of hydraulic fracturing — “fracking,” for short — to extract underground reserves of natural gas and other fuels,” said Patrick McGrath, founder and executive director of the Hudson Valley Debate Union, which is co-producing the event with the Rockland County Times, the Nyack Village Theater and the Hudson Valley Business Journal.

New York legislators earlier this year approved a resolution supporting the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas.

Public hearings are being held this week to gauge the reactions of New Yorkers, some of whom are concerned and even afraid about the effect on their lives — having seen a host of well contaminations, regulatory violations, methane gas exlosions and waterways suddenly filled with dead forms of life in nearby Pennsylvavnia.

Gov. Cuomo has established a blue-ribbon panel to monitor developments. But several residents already have banded together in class-action suits against drilling companies. Some towns als have passed local laws banning the process, and bills have been introduced in the Legislature in Albany to shut down fracking statewide.

Opponents cite potential effects on drinking water, while proponents say the process opens the way to “a century’s worth” of natural gas and will create thousands of jobs in regions of upstate New York that currently suffer from high unemployment.

WHAT: “Oxford-style” debate on hydro-fracking
WHERE: Nyack Village Theater, 94 Main St.

WHEN: 7:30 – 9 p.m.

Scheduled to speak in favor of fracking tomorrow night:

·  Karen Bulich Moreau, president of the Land and Liberty Foundation, Feura Bush, NY;

·  Adam Schultz, an attorney and partner with Gilberti Stinziano Heintz & Smith, P.C. in Syracuse, representing the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York;

·  Tom West, founder and managing partner of The West Firm PLLC, Albany.


·  Paul Gallay, president of  Hudson Riverkeeper;

·  Kathy Nolan, High Peaks regional director for Catskill Mountainkeeper;

·  Buck Moorhead, co-founder and vice president of NYH2O.

“We will love to have you in Nyack,” McGrath said, “but if you can’t make it there, no worries. Thanks to the theater’s, the debate will be livestreamed, and those watching on the ‘Net can vote on the motion through the Web site’s chat room.”

Dylan Skriloff, the editor-in-chief and associate publisher of the Rockland County Times, said: “It is our hope this event will represent a significant contribution to the public conversation on the controversial fracking issue. It is exciting to bring together these four organizations to hold this event and these six superbly qualified speakers, who through the Oxford-style debate format, should delve deeply into questions at hand.”

Here’s how it works:

The principal speakers each get 10 minutes for their speeches. The first two minutes and the last two minutes are ‘protected,’ but the six minutes in between are open for “Points of Information.”

That’s where anyone in the the audience can stand up, raise his or her hand, and shout out, “Point of Information!”

The Principal Speaker at the time can refuse any and all points but is strongly urged to take a couple.

“When all of the Principal Speakers are finished, the question will be called, and the audience in the theater will vote on the motion,” McGrath said.

“We’re doing this low-tech,” he said. “We’ll pass around the ballot box, the voting guests will drop in the green and red poker chips we use as ballots, then we’ll count the chips, announce the vote total and find out if the motion has passed.

“Now that’s what I call participatory democracy.”



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