WESTPORT— Republican Cathy Walsh and Democrat Jonathan Steinberg, candidates for the 136th House District in Westport, squared off on issues facing the environment at a fitting venue Wednesday night — Earthplace.

When Julie Belaga, debate moderator and former regional director for the EPA, turned the conversation to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s significant investment into natural gas, Walsh voiced her support for the fuel, but maintained her stance against fracking.

“I do support natural gas. It doesn’t all come from fracking,” Walsh said. “I am absolutely against fracking. I think fracking leads to a massive pollution of our water, and I am against anything that will pollute our water source.”

Steinberg quickly pointed out his work in Hartford against fracking. “I led the effort in the Legislature to ban fracking waste importation storage for processing because of its great concerns for us.”

As a “short-term Faustian bargain,” Steinberg believes natural gas pipelines are necessary because the state has coal, fire and electrical plants going out of operation.

Several actions were proposed by Steinberg to address threats to the state’s water quality. He noted there are inequities in water pricing around the state, which creates “an unfairness,” and he talked about the need to protect watersheds, but at the same time transport water sufficiently.

“We need to really focus on a comprehensive plan that takes into account all these factors. And I’m glad we finally have legislation on the books to move forward in that direction,” Steinberg said.

Walsh agreed a comprehensive plan is needed, but said the water companies have “redacted certain information and are keeping it from the state because of security reasons,” and added “the state has the right to know what the water reserves are.”

She echoed Steinberg’s point about the prevalence of water pricing inequality when she said Niagara Bottling bought “5 million gallons of water a day,” which is far more than other companies.