President of Riverkeeper and Allies to Battle Pro-Drillers at

An “Oxford-style” debate on the future of “hydro-fracking” or “fracking” in New York’s Marcellus Shale region will take place on Thursday, December 1, 2011, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at the Nyack Village Theater, 94 Main Street (2nd Floor), in downtown Nyack, New York. The public and media are invited to attend.
The event is co-produced by the Hudson Valley Debate Union, the Rockland County Times and the Nyack Village Theater, and co-sponsored by the Hudson Valley Business Journal. Web streaming will be available live on RocklandWorldRadio.com. Web stream viewers will be able to vote on the motion by using the chat room function linked on the front page of the Rockland World Radio site.
The debate will be based on support or opposition to the following motion, passed earlier this year by the state, which has been the subject of public hearings this week:
“This House supports the adoption of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed regulations for high-volume hydraulic fracturing (6 NYCRR Parts 52, 110, 550-556, and 750).”
Scheduled to speak in favor of the motion will be:
·       Ms. Karen Bulich Moreau, President of the Land and Liberty Foundation, Feura Bush, NY
·       Mr. Adam Schultz, representing the Independent Oil & Gas Association of New York; attorney and partner with Gilberti Stinziano Heintz & Smith, P.C. in Syracuse, NY
·       Mr. Tom West, founder and managing partner, The West Firm PLLC, Albany NY
Scheduled to speak against the motion will be:
·       Mr. Paul Gallay, President of  Hudson Riverkeeper
·       Ms. Kathy Nolan, High Peaks Regional Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper
·       Mr. Buck Moorhead, co-founder and vice president of NYH2O
Patrick McGrath, founder and executive director of the Hudson Valley Debate Union, which brings interactive, face-to-face “Oxford-style” debating to the Hudson Valley and beyond, says of Thursday’s debate, “This is one of today’s most pressing environmental issues—the question of hydraulic fracturing—”fracking,” for short—to extract underground reserves of natural gas and other fuels.”
McGrath notes that in a first for the HVDU, the event is a joint production with The Rockland County Times, which has covered Rockland County since 1888, the Hudson Valley Business Journal, “the definitive source of local business news since 1986,” and the Nyack Village Theater, which is both hosting the event and providing livestreaming video of the event for debate participants anywhere via the Web.
Patrick McGrath further comments “First, I want to thank Dylan Skriloff of The Rockland County Times and Richard Quinn of the Nyack Village Theater for opening their venue to HVDU’s brand of performance debate. We will love to have you in Nyack, but if you can’t make it there, no worries—thanks to the Theater’s RocklandWorldRadio.com, the debate will be livestreamed, and those watching on the ‘Net can vote on the motion through the Web site’s chat room.”
“Hydraulic fracturing—‘fracking’—is one of the top environmental and resource extraction issues of the times.  Opponents of fracking cite potential effects on drinking water and the harms of chemicals used in the process.  Proponents of fracking state that the process gives access to ‘a century’s worth’ of natural gas, and will create thousands of jobs in regions of upstate New York that currently suffer from high unemployment.
“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has now proposed regulations that will open some of the Marcellus Shale formations in upstate New York to fracking production.  Some towns have passed local laws banning the process, and bills have been introduced in the Legislature in Albany to shut down fracking statewide.  Our Principal Speakers represent environmental advocates, landowner organizations, and industry groups, who are all ready to take Points of Information from each other—and from you the Voting Guests.”
Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of the Rockland County Times Dylan Skriloff said, “It is our hope this event will represent a significant contribution to the public conversation on the controversial fracking issue. It is exciting to bring together these four organizations to hold this event and these six superbly qualified speakers, who through the Oxford-style debate format, should delve deeply into questions at hand.”
WHAT HAPPENS AT AN ‘OXFORD STYLE’ HUDSON VALLEY DEBATE UNION EVENT?
“Voting Guests in the HVDU audience participate along with the Principal Speakers,” McGrath explained. “The Principal Speakers at the debates each get ten minutes for their speeches. The first two minutes and the last two minutes are ‘protected’ — but the six minutes in between is subject to Points of Information. That’s where anyone in the the audience can stand up, raise his or her hand, and shout out, ‘Point of Information!’ Nothing between you and the Principal Speaker—you just stand up, right from your chair — and rip it. The Principal Speaker on the floor at the time has the right to refuse any and all Points of Information, but they are strongly urged to take at least one or two.
“When all of the Principal Speakers are finished, the question will be called, and the audience in the theater will vote on the motion.  We’re doing this low-tech: we’ll pass around the ballot box, the Voting Guests will drop in the green and red poker chips we use as ballots, then we’ll count the chips, announce the vote total and find out if the motion has passed. Now that’s what I call participatory democracy,” McGrath said.
Further information about the Hudson Valley Debate Union can be found at the HVDU’s Web sites: www.hvdebateunion.org and www.hudsonvalleydebate.com. The HVDU’s YouTube channel is located at http://www.youtube.com/user/hvdebateunion.