A local push to renew fracking moratorium

After the Town of Avon’s fracking moratorium banning efforts within the town limits expired in March 2013, the Livingston County community has come together to educate themselves on ways to ensure fracking will not take place in the future.

The moratorium originally called for one year without hydrofracking on the town’s land, according to Darcy Young, member of Frack Free Genesee.

Frack Free Genesee is an organization that collects data and coordinates efforts across townships throughout the Finger Lakes region, including Livingston County, and remains informed about state-level discussions and actions surrounding fracking.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process designed to extract natural gas from the earth. In order to release this natural gas, high-pressure combinations of water and chemicals are forced onto the rocks shielding the gas.

President of the Geneseo Environmental Organization senior Jen Benson said, “The moratorium was put in place so towns would have time to come up with other types of protection [against fracking].”

She mentioned some protective options, one being zoning. Zoning is a device of land-use planning utilized by local governments in most developed countries. While she said zoning might be more of an unconventional approach, it would prevent instances of fracking within the town of Geneseo.

According to Young, while the moratorium was in place, residents in Geneseo used this opportunity of protection from fracking efforts to educate themselves about the issue.

“Having the moratorium had a positive effect in that it brought the issue [of fracking] to the forefront, so the town and community could see the concerns and become educated,” Young said. “We as a community have watched what other towns and what the state is doing and what it could mean for Geneseo.”

The moratorium was initially meant to expire after a year, but the town renewed for an additional six months, and it expired June 28.

According to Benson, Avon is currently in the process of renewing the moratorium yet again.

Young explained that there is not as strong a push for a second moratorium in Geneseo as there is in other neighboring towns.

“I definitely think it is imperative to have a moratorium in place, especially because we don’t know what’s going on at the state level,” Benson said. “It’s important for towns to use the home rule; using it preserves community power. The home rule scares energy corporations because it has been standing up in court cases.”

The home rule gives towns and municipalities the right to guard what happens in their borders despite what the rules are statewide.

If companies instituted fracking in or near Geneseo, this would lead to an increase of truck traffic through the town as well as an influx of workers, as jobs would be brought to the community. According to Young, noise and air pollution would become an issue.

Because of this, both GEO and Frack Free Genesee are working to stop fracking efforts. Frack Free Genesee provides additional information about prevention and upcoming events on its website.