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Representative Hinchey sees positive potential in our future

December 26, 2012

By Rep. Maurice Hinchey

Serving Sullivan County in the United States House of Representatives has been the greatest privilege of my life. As I prepare to leave office, I want to sincerely thank the people of Sullivan County who put their trust in me to serve their interests in Washington. In the most basic sense, that is what I have worked to do over the past 20 years.

To be honest, when I was growing up in a working-class family in Saugerties, NY, I didn’t really see myself serving in public office for nearly four decades. When I graduated from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and went to work in a cement factory upon my return. Knowing that an education would help me build a better life, I enrolled at SUNY-New Paltz and worked the night shift at a toll booth on the New York State Thruway to pay for school. I never could have envisioned that I would have such an extraordinary opportunity to serve my community, my state and my country.

During the past two decades representing Sullivan County, I worked to protect our natural resources and environment, promote tourism and agriculture, and deliver millions in infrastructure and other federal investments, including my conversion of Route 17 to Interstate 86, which is literally helping to pave the way for a brighter future in Sullivan County.

I am proud of what we were able to accomplish, but of course, there is always more to do. As I near the end of my final term in Congress, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on the work that remains.

I firmly believe that Sullivan County’s beautiful scenery and storied history is only exceeded by its future potential. As we work toward charting the region’s economic course, it is my hope that the focus will be on long-term, sustainable development.

With the future of hydraulic fracturing in New York still uncertain, we must make sure that we remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our water supplies from the dangers that this method of drilling for natural gas poses. Despite what those who stand to directly benefit may claim, fracking for natural gas is not the answer to the region’s struggling economic conditions. In fact, it could do more harm than good by undermining property values, hurting the region’s tourism industry and damaging the region’s incredible beauty and natural resources. If we take the long view, economic revitalization can only be achieved by building upon the area’s existing strengths and assets, protecting the region’s water and other natural resources and cultivating a more diversified and sustainable economy.