The Otsego County Democratic Committee is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York and to back the push to give local governments home rule rights to prohibit heavy industry.

In an interview this morning, Otsego County Democratic Chairman Edward T. Lentz said he is concerned that political support for Cuomo among local Democrats could weaken if he continues to allow the hydofracking permitting process to go forward.

Lentz also said that local Democrats are disappointed that Cuomo has yet to take a public position on home rule. Six Otsego County local governments in the county have banned hydrofracking in recent months, and numerous anti-fracking candidates for local government positions were swept into office in the November elections.

The Daily Star attempted to get comment from Cuomo's office on Lentz' statements this morning. A secretary in the governor's press office said she would relay a message to a spokesman for Cuomo. There was no immediate response.

In a letter sent to Cuomo on Thursday on behalf of the county committee, Lentz wrote: "... we worry that if HVHF (high volume hydrofracking) is allowed to occur under a Democratic administration, it will severely weaken support for the Democratic Party and undermine the progress we’ve been making in our county."

He noted that Otsego County Democratic Committee members have previously expressed that same view to Cuomo and his predecessor, former Gov. David Paterson.

He added: "... we sincerely hope that you will take appropriate steps to ensure that HVHF does not occur in NYS or, at a minimum, that it is not permitted in municipalities that have clearly expressed that they do not want it, such as by adopting local bans, as at least 4 towns in Otsego County have done.

The letter concluded: "Towards these ends, we respectfully urge you to consider a state-wide ban on HVHF, at least until such time as the full impacts of HVHF on communities in neighboring states can be assessed. Our second preference is for enactment of an amendment to the Environmental Conservation Law that would confirm that municipalities have the home rule authority, through enactment of land use regulations, to prohibit HVHF within their borders.

"We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter so that you can more directly gauge the gravity of these concerns.  Please let us know a date, time, and location when and where such meeting would be convenient for you.

"We thank you for your attention to this matter.

"Very truly yours

"Edward T. Lentz"


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