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Gennaro appears in film on dangers of gas drilling

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As a lawmaker, City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) is more than used to signing letters and petitions, but he may now have to get used to giving his John Hancock to fans who have seen him in a growing number of films.

Gennaro made his HBO debut Monday night in “GASLAND,” an environmental documentary chronicling the natural gas boom that threatened to affect the New York City watershed. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and landed a Special Documentary prize.

“GASLAND” was the second environmental film Gennaro has been interviewed for in the past three years, the first being “Fuel,” which won best documentary at Sundance last year.

The movie “has a critically important message that people need to hear, that hydraulic fracturing, the gas drilling technology that is sweeping the nation, is completely unregulated by the federal government and poses unacceptable risks to drinking water supplies throughout the country,” said Gennaro, chairman of the Council Environmental Protection Committee.

The film was directed by Josh Fox and investigates the impact of the increase in natural gas drilling across the country, and Gennaro said the documentary will lead “to the reforms and regulations needed to protect us from environmental catastrophe.”

Gennaro was featured in the film for his work to protect the city’s drinking water supply watershed in upstate New York from hydraulic fracturing, a process of extracting natural gas that entails injecting up to 5 million gallons of water laced with chemicals into the ground at high pressure to break the rock.

During his time in the Council, Gennaro and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) strongly advocated for the state government to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the watershed, which provides drinking water for city residents.

Gennaro’s efforts helped to pave the way for a decision by the state at the end of April that it would place new restrictions on drilling in the watershed, which essentially guarantees hydraulic fracturing will not be used there.

Gennaro and Quinn are now strongly supporting a state bill that would place a moratorium on proposed gas drilling in upstate New York until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completes its study of the effects of hydrofracking on water and public health.

The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and state Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-East Setauket).

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:56 pm, October 10, 2011
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