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Astorino criticizes Cuomo on fracking

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino speaks during the

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino speaks during the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition's 18th Annual Advancing the Choice Conference at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. Credit: Barry Sloan

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino criticized his Democratic opponent, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, for his lack of support for natural gas hydrofracking during a visit Friday to Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, addressed about 75 municipal and private sector vehicle-fleet operators at the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition's annual Advancing the Choice Conference.

The coalition is part of a Department of Energy program that promotes the use of alternative fuel vehicles to decrease the nation's dependency on foreign oil.

"We are blessed with an abundance of natural gas in our soil here in New York," Astorino said. "And the fact that we are not taking advantage of that is a dereliction of duty by this governor . . . You can't be politically paralyzed on this. Leaders need to move forward on what they know is right."

Astorino said his fracking policies as governor would bring down energy costs on Long Island while generating billions in new revenue and creating thousands of new jobs -- all while protecting the environment and public health.

A Cuomo campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Cuomo has delayed for nearly four years making a decision on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing for gas trapped in a vast upstate shale deposit.

While supporters say drilling will safely bring jobs, environmentalists argue the practice threatens the environment and drinking water.

Cuomo has said he will not lift -- or make permanent -- New York's 2008 moratorium on fracking until he gets a recommendation from Acting Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker.

A decision on fracking will not come before the November election, Cuomo said.

During yesterday's conference at the Carlyle on the Green catering hall, Astorino also touted his record on the environment, noting that he amended Westchester County's charter to mandate the purchase of only hybrid, electric or alternative fuel vehicles.

He said his administration also retrofitted county buildings with energy-efficient technologies and gave tax exemptions to homeowners who retrofit their homes with solar panels.

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