Energy Symposium addresses environmental issues

On Saturday April 21, Geneseo Environmental Organization sponsored a Regenerative Energy Symposium, which featured a series of presentations addressing alternative energy solutions.

The day kicked off at 8:30 a.m. in Wadsworth Auditorium with a presentation on hydraulic fracturing by associate professor of history Jordan Kleiman. Kleiman, who is currently teaching a course on the basic elements of hydraulic fracturing, gave an overview of the multiple facets of the natural gas extraction process and its regional impacts.

Following Kleiman’s presentation, Joseph Robertson, economist and adjunct professor at Villanova University, spoke via Skype concerning his work with the Citizens Climate Lobby. Robertson mentioned his study of the correlations between innovative energy solutions and economic health. With the research that he compiled, Robertson said, “There’s no reason we can’t power our economy with clean energy.” The morning session concluded with a lecture by Peter Bardaglio, a proponent of sustainability in the Finger Lakes region. Bardaglio’s presentation, “Community Engagement in the Age of Climate Change,” emphasized the importance of engaging the public in the process of moving towards sustainability, specifically in college communities.

The afternoon session was held in Welles Hall, starting with a presentation by Martin Casstevens, business formation and commercialization manager at the University of Buffalo. Casstevens presented “Entrepreneurship as it Applies to Solving Energy or Sustainability Challenges,” which focused on inspiring students to enter careers involving sustainable energy.

The symposium closed with What Art LLC founder and owner John McCreary with his presentation, “Passive Housing; How to Bring Sustainability Home.” McCreary addressed the positive impacts, namely a decrease in carbon footprint, which could come from introducing energy efficiency in home design. Junior Lauren Bomeisl, GEO’s sustainability representative coordinator, was the major proponent and coordinator of Saturday’s events.

Bomeisl explained that the idea for the symposium came about through her interactions with Jamie Carestio, a noted grassroots antifracking activist in the western New York region. “GEO has never done anything of this size, but I was begging the other members to make this happen,” said Bomeisl. “It’s really important to focus on what the solutions can be instead of just looking at the problem.”

“I think that this is such a big issue. I’m a little disappointed that more students didn’t come to [the Symposium]; it’s really important that younger people hear these things,” said freshman Jenny Frank.

“I thought it was really cool how so many people from across the country are trying to connect with each other to make a difference. I really give a lot of credit to GEO for putting this whole thing together,” said freshman Ramsha Ansari.

While the Regenerative Energy Symposium will not be an annual event, Bomeisl said it was an important step in making the campus more aware of environmental concerns.

“I think that [the symposium] was a huge success in that it showed that SUNY Geneseo certainly supports the progression of regenerative energy and the outreach necessary to make the community more aware,” Bomeisl said.