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April 17, 2014
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editorial

Thank you, Congressman Hinchey


Hinchey has also been a leading voice in seeking to mitigate the increasing control huge corporations exert over our nation and its economy. Along with Bernie Sanders, Hinchey is the author of the “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist” bill which, if passed, would forestall the need for another taxpayer bailout of the mega-banks responsible for the recent financial meltdown by requiring them to be broken into smaller, more competitive units.

Especially pertinent to our own area, Hinchey has also kept his eye on public rather than corporate welfare with regard to horizontal hydrofracking, as illustrated by his typically well-reasoned, well-researched comments in response to President Obama’s happy-face rendering of natural gas prospects in the State of the Union:

“I am disappointed… that the State of the Union address endorsed questionable estimates of shale gas reserves and overstated industry claims about job creation. Just this week, the Energy Information Administration slashed its shale gas reserve estimates by half. And given that the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to complete the first ever broad scale study on the risks hydraulic fracturing poses to drinking water, it is hard to see how the administration can make fully informed decisions on this matter at this time.

“The shale gas industry has made a habit of overstating fracking’s benefits and understating its risks. It likes to point only to economic benefits, which are mostly isolated and temporary, while ignoring a rising number of reports of broken industry promises, harm to local communities, and air pollution and water contamination…

“We cannot afford to ignore these reports. If we don’t take steps to safeguard our water resources, air quality, and public health, the harm we would suffer would far outweigh the purported economic benefits associated with fracking.”

This kind of clarity and independence of thinking, a refusal to get seduced by simple solutions or to sacrifice fundamental principles for the sake of a popular quick fix, is currently in woefully short supply in Washington, DC. We can always cross our fingers and hope that one or two of the freshman class elected this year will help replenish these assets on the House floor. But let’s face it, the odds are against us. Congressman Hinchey is truly one in a million, and we will miss him.