Keuka College professor gives hydrofracking talk in Fremont

Christine Loman

What could have been a contentious meeting on hydraulic fracturing turned out to be relatively mild Thursday night when residents of Fremont gathered to hear a presentation from Keuka College Professor Kasey Klingensmith.

Klingensmith stressed the importance of possible contamination associated with hydrofracking and its potential impact on the community. The flowback, or water and chemical mix used to create fissures and release natural gas, has no safe disposal, she said. There are also concerns about the impact gas company trucking would have on town roads.

“It’s a poorly regulated industry. The laws that you and I have to follow, and if you own a business or have a farm, the same laws that you have to follow, the gas industry is basically the only industry that doesn’t have to follow,” she said during the presentation at the town hall.

Klingensmith also stressed the importance of updating the town’s comprehensive plan to establish zoning rules and road protection.

Fresh on the mind of many who spoke during the comment period was the security of the town’s groundwater versus a potential boon to the area’s economy.

“You’re going to end up with an impact on everybody’s drinking water whether they like it or not, whether they signed a lease or not. So then our property becomes worthless because who’s going to want to buy a house in an area where the ground water is contaminated?” one man said.

Some 80 percent of the value of gas produced from fracturing goes to gas companies and suppliers out of state, Klingensmith said.

Supervisor Tom Flansburg said the town is looking into putting together a temporary moratorium to give the town time to put together its road use agreement and comprehensive plan. If the moratorium is passed by town resolution, he said it could last for six months.

“It’s going to be a hot topic when one neighbor wants it and another doesn’t so we did a presentation on both of these now and had good turn outs on both of them,” he said.

The Steuben County Land Owners Coalition gave a presentation on fracking last February for the town. Fremont resident Karole Baker, who attended that meeting as well, said she came out last night to get more information on the issue.

“The other (meeting) was very forceful, it was all about dollar bills. This one was just information,” she said.

For Fremont residents, information will prove crucial. Flansburg said a decision on the temporary moratorium could come next month.