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Queens Chronicle

Albany moves toward oil, gas drilling ban

Bills awaiting governor’s decision

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:55 pm, Thu Feb 14, 2019.

New York State’s Senate and Assembly have passed bills to prohibit drilling for oil and natural gas in New York coastal waters.

The bill, which would apply to state-owned underwater coastal lands, also would bar the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and its Office of General Services from authorizing leases that would increase oil or natural gas production from federal waters. The bill would also prohibit the development of infrastructure associated with exploration, development, or production of oil or natural gas from New York’s coastal waters.

The Assembly measure was sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-East Setauket).

“My Assembly colleagues and I held a hearing on Long Island last year and there was unanimous condemnation of the federal government’s proposal to open up our waters to drilling for oil and gas,” he said in a news release. “This legislation will safeguard our water and shores from the dangers of fossil fuel exploration and drilling, and will support our efforts to move this state towards cleaner and renewable energy sources.”

The bill passed on the Assembly floor on Feb. 4 by a vote of 212 to 22. Englebright is the Environmental Conservation Committee chairman in the Assembly.

Assemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach), who supported the bill, stated in a press release that the legislation takes a big step towards a more sustainable future. She added that working to preserve New York’s coastlines and all associated natural resources is essential to the long-term preservation of the environment, economy and quality of life.

“In order to protect our children, and all future generations, it’s crucial that we take steps now to protect our planet — especially the vital resources here in Rockaway and across the entire State,” the press release said.

The legislation passed in the Senate the following day, 48 to 13. It was sponsored by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Rockville Centre), who serves as chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

“Offshore drilling is dangerous to the local environment, and would reverse progress toward our climate change goals — it must be prohibited,” Kaminsky said in a press release.

Dan Mundy Jr., president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, said in a statement that any type of accidental release during drilling operations would have devastating effects on the waters and coastal areas.

“After years of hard work, the waters off of our coast are now cleaner than they have been in decades and whales, dolphins and seals can regularly be seen cruising through these waters,” Mundy said. “It is not a time to allow ocean drilling to threaten the gains we have made.”

“This bill will also help prevent big gas and oil companies from laying miles of additional dangerous pipe lines just miles from where we live work and play,” said John Cori, president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association, in a statement.

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