The Assembly's minority leader is pushing for a "buffer zone" around each of the Finger Lakes that would prevent natural-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing within 4,000 feet of the lakes.

Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, asked for the setback in formal comments he submitted late last month to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, saying its current proposed hydrofracking regulations offer "no substantive protection to these environmentally sensitive bodies of water.

"This serious omission is correctable through a minimum 4,000-foot buffer zone for each of the 10 unprotected Finger Lakes," Kolb wrote.

Kolb's proposal would impact all but one of the Finger Lakes. Skaneateles Lake is part of the Syracuse watershed, where the DEC has already proposed banning surface drilling within 4,000 feet of its edge.

On Thursday, Kolb said he was supportive of allowing the controversial hydrofracking technique in New York, in part because of the expected economic windfall it would bring to fiscally troubled communities above the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
He said he was concerned, however, about protecting the Finger Lakes and ensuring local governments weren't on the hook for any damage the industry would bring to roads and infrastructure.

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