Activists protest lawsuit against Avon fracking moratorium at county courthouse

Activists gathered in front of the Livingston County Courthouse in Geneseo on Feb. 4 in response to a lawsuit that was set to take place that day between Lenape Resources and the town of Avon.

Lenape Resources, a natural gas drilling company, filed a suit against the town of Avon for $50 million for placing a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is a process used to extract natural gas from under the earth. A mixture of water and chemicals is forced into the earth at high pressure to break into the rock and release the natural gas.

Critics of hydrofracking raise the concern that, though this would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, the chemicals used in this process may negatively affect drinking water.

The moratorium in Avon calls for one year without hydrofracking on the town’s land.  The delay will allow enough time for further research on the lasting implications of the process.

According to associate professor of studio art and Chair of the Department of Studio Ar0074 Dan DeZarn, Lenape Resources claims that the moratorium disrupts business practices. He added that the drilling thus far has been vertical and therefore is not affected by the moratorium.

DeZarn said that his interest in the issue stemmed from a desire to protect the land and water that he and his children rely on. 

President of the Geneseo Environmental Organization junior Jen Benson, who attended the protest, said, “As the upcoming generation it is our responsibility to stand behind the environmental movement to protect our resources for our parents and future generations.”

The protest featured activists waving signs bearing statements like “Don’t frack with our water” and “Criminalize fracking now” as well as a press conference.

The first speaker in the press conference was Sandra Frankel, former town supervisor of Brighton, N.Y. in Monroe County. She encouraged the anti-hydrofracking activism and said, “We must not sacrifice our lives and our beautiful drinking water.”

Cindy Carestio, founding member of Frack Free Genesee, said, “Gone is the luxury of taking for granted the abundance and beauty that we love.” Frack Free Genesee is a group that works to stop hydrofracking in the Genesee Valley region. 

Tim Stoltman, an organic farmer in Livingston County, cited statistics that depicted the negative impact of hydrofracking on crops and farm animals. He said that he hopes that his farm, which has been in his family for nine years, will not be ruined by hydrofracking so that he may pass it on to his sons.

Associate professor of history Jordan Kleiman, Dr. Ted Barnett and local attorney Rachel Treichler also spoke in support of the town of Avon’s moratorium.

Later in the protest, the crowd participated in a call and response pledge to take action against hydrofracking.  

At the culmination of the event, a member of the crowd led a modified version of the traditional civil rights song “We Shall Not Be Moved.”