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The Empire

Senate Democrats Invite GOP Counterparts to Fracking Forum

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The state Senate Democrats are holding a forum on hydrofracking—and they’d like Senate Republicans to join them.

In a letter to the leader of Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, his counterpart in the Democratic minority, Senator John Sampson, invited Skelos and his fellow GOP members to join their colleagues to hear “expert testimony from environmental activists, economists and healthcare professionals.”

“As legislators we have a responsibility to not only serve the public, but to also truly understand the impact government measures will have on New Yorkers before we take action,” Sampson wrote. “Before we provide authorization for companies to drill in New York State, we must have information about the long-term health and economic impacts this process will have, and this forum will provide us with a greater understanding of both.”

The letter comes in the midst of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation continues its review of tens of thousands of public comments submitted during a review of the agency’s draft environmental impact study. Yesterday, the head of the agency, Joe Martens, called the process “long and tedious” and indicated it could last through at least the summer.

A statement from Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif dismissed the Democrats' invitation.

"Another day, another political stunt by what's left of the Senate Democrat conference,” Reif wrote in a statement. “Senator Skelos and the members of our Republican majority are focused on achieving passage of legislation that would cut taxes for businesses so they can use the savings to create new jobs and help turn this economy around. Even the Senate Democrats know that the DEC's review of this process, which we continue to monitor, is ongoing."

The forum hosted by Senate Democrats will take place on April 25.