While a Livingston County Court Judge listened to arguments in a hearing on hydrofracking, anti-fracking groups staged a rally outside the Court House. They were supporting the Town of Avon's right to stop a natural gas company from drilling in that community.
"We have a lot of support out here today."
They braved frigid temperatures and wind chills in their support of the Town of Avon. It's government is being sued by Lenape Resources, a natural gas company, over a moritorium passed by the town board on new gas wells.
Anti-fracking groups, including Frack Free Genesee and the New Yorkers Against Fracking Coalition, back Avon's right to home rule which gives local governments the right to make decisions about what affects their communities, including the extraction of natural gas.
"We're in the eleventh hour right now for the hydrofracking. Cuomo is set to make a decision by the 13th, he has to. One way or another something has to happen because the whole rule making process will expire at the end of February," said Bob Thompson, Frack Free Genesee.
Lenape is seeking $50 million in damages, claiming the Avon moritorium could put the company out of business.
"It's really important to stand together as local towns. I being from Canandaigua, New York, I understand what it's like to go to your town board meetings and really try to fight to protect our water resources especially being in the Finger Lakes. It's not only part of our economy but it's also the community that we live in and it's our responsibility to protect it," said Jennifer Benson, Canandaigua
Fracking supporters say it's time to put this controversy to rest for the economic well-being of New York State. They say New York's agriculture community is hurting because of high taxes and fracking could help save a lot of small family farms.
Those who want to allow gas companies to drill on their land believe protests such as the one in Geneseo are nothing more than fear-mongering.
"It's been proven it's safe. There's 28 states that are actually doing this activity right now and not one of those governors in any of those states has asked the petroleum industry to leave. It's pretty well documented that it can be done safely," said Neil Vitale, Steuben County Landowners Coalition.
Livingston County Court Judge Robert Wiggins says he'll issue a ruling on the law suit as soon as possible.
Rochester: Protest Outside Hydrofracking Hearing in Livingston County
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In Rochester, state and local officials called on Governor Cuomo's office to continue its moratorium on hydrofracking.
Elected Officials to Protect New York is asking the Governor's Office to conduct three specific studies to include the cumulative impact, health impact and cost of hydrofracking to taxpayers and businesses.
The group says the state has not done a sufficient review of the negative socio-economic impacts of hydrofracking on all aspects of the community.
"They studied only industry data, industry-provided information of the potential benefits which we have seen are grossly overstated, none of the costs to first responders, none of the costs to roadways, costs of rising crimes, property values, tax base, none of that is excluded, the municipal burdens – what are we going to have to shoulder, all of that is complete excluded," said Dominic Frongillo.
Elected Officials to Protect New York is made up of more than 600 elected officials from all of the state's 62 counties.