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Galef Brings Hydrofracking Debate to Ossining

OSSINING, N.Y. – Hydraulic Fracturing may not come to Westchester anytime soon, but New York State Assembly member Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) wants to get the conversation out to the public.

Galef traveled to Bradford County, Pa. in February to learn about gas drilling and recorded footage with residents and organizations to discover its potential impact there. Galef recently screened the footage in Garrison and is set to host another screening at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ossining Public Library .

Galef said when she initially polled her constituents on the issue, many were unaware of its possible impact. The video, she said, attempts to get the information out there for people to make an educated decision.

“I got a lot of content from my constituents on the issue of hydrofracking and most of the people I’ve heard from were opposed to it,” she said. “But I have heard from some people in the community who are in favor of it and think it should be a pilot project.”

Galef said it was that “great diversity of opinion” that led her to taking the trip to Pennsylvania to learn more about hydrofracking first-hand.

“I felt it was important for me to go on-site and see what was actually happening in that community,” she said, adding that she was able to meet with a representative from the Penn State Extension office in Towanda, a Bradford County Commissioner, a local land use advocate, a community liaison and a realtor during her visit. “We also found a woman who said she had health problems after fracking occurred near her home. So we spent the time asking questions. I tried very hard not to state positions of my own but to get information of people we visited.”

Galef said the response to the previous showing in Putnam County went well and led to a lot of questions. But it remains to be seen if Ossining residents and others in Galef’s district would support a movement locally.

Village of Ossining Mayor William Hanauer said he doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.

“I have not seen the film but my own thought is that it must not be done anywhere in Westchester County,” Hanauer said. “And it should not be done anywhere in New York State unless and until such time that it is absolutely clear that no damage could be done to the aquifer or to any other part of the ecology. The village board is looking into the possibility of joining many other communities across the country that are preemptively banning it from our jurisdiction.”

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