Mount Morris places moratorium on hydrofracking

Last month, a moratorium on hydrofracking was put in place by Mount Morris, N.Y., giving the town time to weigh the positive and negative consequences of hydraulic fracturing in the region.

Hydrofracking, or simply fracking, a gas-extraction process, involves pumping highly-pressurized water, containing chemicals and other substances, into the ground. Fracking has some negative effects, including the fracturing of rock layers, groundwater contamination because of the chemicals used and safe disposal of wastewater, making it a highly controversial process.

Debate surrounding hydrofracking centers on a weighing of the benefits of job growth and increasing the available pool of energy sources besides oil against negative repercussions for local economies, environmental wellbeing, human health and regional aesthetics. 

In November, a series of public hearings were held by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in order for citizens to have their opinions on hydrofracking heard by the state. A group of Geneseo students attended the hearings in Dansville, N.Y. on Nov. 16.

The Geneseo Environmental Organization (GEO) has been an active force on campus, supporting environmentally sustainable ideas and practices. 

"This is by no means a ban, but it is a symbolic gesture that the decision to frack should not be quick and easy," said junior Yael Massen, president of GEO.

In addition to the ecological implications of hydrofracking, GEO also examines the issue from a human-impact standpoint. 

"The more towns that adopt moratoriums on hydrofracking show a move in the right direction to consider the dangers associated with not only the extraction process, but the implications it will have for the quality of life for its residents," said Massen.

GEO is working toward spreading awareness of the detriments of hydrofracking in order to increase understanding on campus. Lauren Bomeisl, GEO's sustainability representative coordinator, is currently working with Jamie Carestio, who has been very active in the grassroots anti-fracking movement in the area, to create a forum highlighting the benefits of energy alternatives to fracking. 

"Hopefully a forum like this will open people's eyes to the benefits of waste-to-energy sources such as Covanta, which has a plant in Buffalo that our organization visited last spring," said Massen.

GEO will continue to protest the presence of fracking companies in the region. "Each energy source has its drawback, but the environmental and health hazards hydrofracking poses to New York State cannot outweigh its short-term benefits," said Massen.