Feds to hold offshore drilling meeting in Albany; Assembly hosts one on LI

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More than 200 people, members of environmental groups, concerned citizens and local leaders, crammed a state Assembly hearing in Suffolk County Wednesday to oppose President Donald Trump's proposal to allow offshore drilling along the coast of Long Island.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) hosted the forum for local, state and national environmental groups after federal authorities scheduled their own hearing in Albany — hours away from the water. Several federal agencies were invited to the meeting but did not attend.

"Albany is an outrage," Englebright says. "This directly affects Long Island's coast, and the hearing should have been here. And we are going to make sure those who wanted to speak here today are heard."

Environmentalists worry that a spill anywhere on the East Coast would cause far-reaching damage to the water, coastline and economy.

"Long Island is tourist-based industry," says environmentalist Kevin McCallister. "Our beaches are second to none. If we lose the summer months' economy to a catastrophic spill, the results will be devastating."

The proposed plan would open 90 percent of the outer continental shelf for oil exploration and drilling, just 3 miles off the coast, critics say.

"This is an unprecedented land grab," says Brian Langloss. 

Environmental advocates from Surfrider, an organization dedicated to the protection of ocean waters, told News 12 that the drilling would damage the entire marine ecosystem and release heavy metals that would degrade the water quality.

"Our economy is totally dependent on fishing and also tourism," says Colleen Henn, of the East End chapter of Surfrider. Henn says the process of "seismic testing" - which blasts the seabed with air guns - is unimaginably loud to marine mammals and damaging to the environment.

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