On the Ball


by Bob Dumas

LEWISBORO, N.Y. –  State Senator Greg Ball (R, C – Patterson) called for a statewide one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) during a presentation he gave on the controversial subject at the Lewisboro Library Wednesday night.

More than 70 people from the north county area packed the library to hear Ball speak on hydrofracking – the process of extracting natural gas from gas shale deposits, something that many say is detrimental to the environment.

Ball said a moratorium is needed because Governor Cuomo is not expected to allocate any funds to regulate fracking and gas drilling in next year’s executive budget proposal.

“Without the funding to properly regulate and without the manpower to properly oversee this industry, we must put the brakes on fracking,” Ball told the crowd. “It’s our fundamental responsibility to learn from the mistakes of other states like Pennsylvania and avoid the devastating effects of hydraulic fracturing here in New York. Without the funding and manpower in place to protect the well-being of our environment and our citizens, a moratorium is necessary so we can get the proper resources and regulations in place.”

Ball told the crowd about his recent tour of Pennsylvania communities that have been affected by hydraulic fracturing. His presentation included images of contaminated Pennsylvania water sources, fish kills and natural resources that are now destroyed.

“In other states they rolled out the red carpet for fracking without having proper funding, manpower and regulations in place,” Ball said. “I visited Pennsylvania and saw first-hand the devastating effects fracking had on property owners. Families have had their drinking water contaminated, experienced death of their livestock and witnessed the values of their homes drop by 90 percent. How is this acceptable?”

Ball said getting the moratorium passed will be a tough fight, but he’s confident it will get done. Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D – Lindenhurst) has committed to co-sponsoring the legislation and Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R, C – Goldens Bridge) attended the presentation to offer his full support.

“Along with Senator Ball, I continue to support the idea for a moratorium on high-volume, horizontal hydrofracking until such a time all the evidence is in and we elected officials, who are stewards of the environment, can make an informed and intelligent decision on this important matter,” Castelli said. “This natural gas has been in the ground for 288 million years. It can stay in the ground a little longer until we make an informed decision.”

In addition to calling for the moratorium, Ball is currently leading a bi-partisan coalition of legislators concerned with hydrofracking and has drafted the “Property Owner’s Bill of Rights.” This legislation would set tough, new standards for hydrofracking in New York.

“Right now, the chemicals used in the fracking process are considered proprietary information,” Ball said. “What we need to do is make this chemical concoction public information. We must draw the line in the sand for property owners here and now.”

Susan Van Dolsen from Westchester for Change said she was pleased with the fact that Ball visited Pennsylvania to meet with the families directly affected by fracking, and she encouraged him to push the governor to make the same trip.

“I think humans respond to other humans, and reading something in a document isn’t the same,” Van Dolsen said. “I really feel that in order to make a decision that does affect the health and welfare of your citizens, the governor and anyone in the legislature should be witnessing what’s going on there.”

Ball told the crowd that some may wonder why a Republican from Putnam County cares so much about fracking – an issue that will have more of an impact on upstate New York.

“I grew up on a tiny farm in Pawling,” he said. “I raised chicken, sheep and pigs and we made and sold cheese. Farming is in my heart and soul and one day I will absolutely get back into it. This is an issue that affects all farmers and sportsmen regardless of their political party.”

People in the crowd asked the senator what people from Westchester could do to let Albany know their feelings on the issue.

“You need continue to communicate with the governor’s office,” he said. “He needs to hear from you and he is listening.” (ARTICLE)