Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey dies; championed environment

NEW YORK (AP) -- A former New York congressman known for pressing to protect the environment has died. Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey was 79.

His family says in a statement on his Facebook page that the Democrat died Wednesday at his home in Saugerties, in New York's Hudson Valley. The family had announced in June that Hinchey had a rare, progressive neurological condition called frontotemporal degeneration or frontotemporal dementia.

Hinchey retired from Congress in 2013, after 20 years there. He'd spent nearly two decades in New York's state Assembly, where he developed an expertise on environmental issues.

He was a vocal opponent of fracking, a natural-gas drilling technique that was banned in New York in 2014.

Hinchey also served in the Navy and was a New York Thruway toll collector.