Geneseo Town discusses moratorium on fracking

On Feb. 8, the Geneseo Town Planning Board held a public hearing to involve community opinion in the possible creation of a moratorium on hydrofracking in Geneseo.

The proposed moratorium, which would have to be approved by the state government, is intended to protect Geneseo from the effects of hydraulic fracturing should it come to the area. 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of gas extraction that involves pumping highly pressurized water, containing chemicals and other substances, into the ground. The call for the moratorium comes from the possible negative effects which are of concern to citizens. These include the fracturing of rock layers, groundwater contamination because of the chemicals used and unsafe disposal of wastewater. On the positive side, hydrofracking would allow for the United States to extract their own independent supply of natural gas, an energy supply which is cleaner than oil, despite also being a fossil fuel.

The projected Geneseo moratorium would only be in effect for one year, after which the council would have to renew it, if they so choose.

Village members and college students – over 50 people in total – turned out to share their opinions on the moratorium with the board. The majority of local residents present expressed support for the moratorium as well as their concern over the health of New York’s environment and inhabitants. The unknown consequences of horizontal drilling, a newer method of hydrofracking, was another hot topic amongst Geneseo citizens.

“It’s common sense,” junior Allison Hoppe said. “We shouldn’t allow hydrofracking without enough information about it.”

Other residents shared personal experiences as another incentive to protect the town from hydrofracking’s potentially damaging consequences.

“To me, the issue has a tangible impact … We lie on the Marcellus Shale, so the impacts are statewide,” junior Justin Shapiro said. “It’s interesting to see the momentum and also very inspiring to see the community come together like this.”

“I came here not knowing what to expect, but these members of the community are very inspiring,” Hoppe said.

Several of the students at Thursday’s hearing attended partly due to a seminar that history professor Jordan Kleiman is currently teaching on the basic elements of fracking.

“I’m taking the class on hydrofracking, so I’m learning the politics behind it, but it’s great to also learn the geology and science behind it too,” Hoppe said. “It’s great to see Geneseo go along with this moratorium.”