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Anti-Fracking Activists Hold Demonstration

The event was part of a statewide day of action across New York.

Long Islanders opposed to fracking gathered midday on Thursday at the  in Port Washington. There, about 50 protesters voiced their concerns, calling on local and state officials to ban fracking.

The event was part of a day of action sponsored by New Yorkers Against Fracking, a statewide coalition of more than 80 organizations working to ban fracking in New York.

According to Sam Bernhardt of Food & Water Watch, who works largely in Roslyn, more than 200,000 petitions were delivered on Wednesday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, demanding that the state support a ban.

Bernhardt noted that , R-Mineola, recently co-sponsored legislation to place a . Bernhardt called that support “a good first step.”

“It is important that Sen. Martins is beginning to respond to his constituents on this issue,” Bernhardt said, calling the move “a good step.”

However, a spokesman for Martins said that the senator’s support for the moratorium stems from concern that the Department of Environmental Conservation received so many public comments for its environmental review, the findings would not be issued until the summer, when the legislature would be out of session. And, at that point, the current moratorium that is in place would expire.

“Extending the moratorium will ensure that fracking will still be prohibited when the DEC report comes out so that a ban will still be in place when the state legislature is back in session,” the Martins spokesman said. “This will allow the legislature time to review the DECs' findings while a moratorium against fracking is still in place.”

And based on current information, “Sen. Martins remains opposed to hydro-fracking,” the spokesman said.

But local activists aim to continue to put pressure on state officials.

Pete Suchmann, an Oceanside resident and retired teacher, is a member of Operation SPLASH and Sludge Stoppers, two environmental groups that are based in Sen. Dean Skelos’ (R-Rockville Centre) district. He called for Skelos to “err on the side of caution and ban fracking in New York. To do any less would violate your oath of office – for you would not be protecting the people of the United States, at least the ones in your constituency.”

Patty Katz of Reach Out America in Great Neck said the moratorium “is only good if we continue to build the momentum and educate our friends and neighbors on the negative effects of fracking.”

She added, “We must continue to make our voices heard and contact Senator Martins and Governor Cuomo today and urge them to completely ban fracking in New York.”

Patti Wood, executive director of Port Washington-based Grassroots Environmental Education, put it this way:

“All of our personal and local efforts to protect our families from environmental contaminants will be in vain if Governor Cuomo permits horizontal hydrofracking in New York State.”

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