Brittany ComakFeb 11, 2018, 7:19 pmFeb 12, 2018, 4:08 pm

Officials to host public hearing on offshore drilling concerns in Smithtown

It will take place before Albany lawmakers hold federal hearing on proposal to drill off state’s coast

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SMITHTOWN — Ever since the Department of the Interior proposed possibly opening up 90 percent of waterways around the country to offshore drilling, Long Islanders have not taken lightly to the possibility.

"Oil and water don't mix. It is a recipe for disaster," said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Recently, state lawmakers Fred Thiele and Kenneth Lavalle reportedly issued a joint statement calling on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hold a federal hearing on Long Island, in addition to the one in Albany since Long Island would be greatly impacted by the decision. Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine has voiced his own concern, especially since Brookhaven Town has the largest coastline on Long Island.

"They scheduled a hearing in Albany for offshore drilling instead of on Long Island or New York City which is near the coastline of New York. We object to that because we think it's an attempt to prevent our voices from being heard," Supervisor Romaine said.

He says state Assemblyman Steve Englebright will be holding a state public hearing this Wednesday, the day before the federal hearing, in Smithtown to give Long Islanders a better chance at voicing their opinions.

"He's holding that hearing to demonstrate something that many of us on Long Island know, that there is strong opposition to this drilling proposal," Romaine said.

He says he wrote two letters to United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke expressing his concern over the proposal, as well as displeasure that there was no federal hearing scheduled for Long Island. But he applauds Assemblyman Englebright for holding a state hearing and hopes it will have an impact.

"All you can do is hope,” he said. “This administration seems to be a little bit tone deaf when it comes to issues of the environment. That doesn't mean that I shouldn't raise my voice because they should know this is not the right thing to do.”

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