Local Town Bans Hydrofracking

Caitlyn Kuzmich, Staff WriterAndes

   Andes residents aren’t taking any chances when it comes to hydrofracking. With the support of grassroots organizations such as Andes Works!, the town has taken preventive steps to make sure hydraulic fracturing stays out of the Delaware County town by passing a local ban. The vote came shortly after the current state-wide fracking moratorium was extended. According to Reuters, the moratorium could extend into 2014.

   The decision to impose a local ban in Andes may seem puzzling since the state-wide ban was just extended, however it makes perfect sense to Andes town supervisor Marty Donnelly. In a recent article in the Daily Star, Donnelly spoke skeptically about the current state-wide moratorium. He expressed his concern that politicians could be swayed by the natural gas industry, saying “Money talks.”
Donnelly went on to express concerns shared by many in the Southern Tier, stating “It may very well be that one day this could be done safely, but right now we don’t want to jeopardize anyone in our town. If our water becomes contaminated, once that contamination is in there, you can’t get it out.”

   The town of Andes, with a population of about 1,300 people, is located in the southeast region of Delaware County. Sitting atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, the town would be of interest for the natural gas industry. If Governor Cuomo decides fracking would be in the best interest of the state, small towns in the Southern Tier, like Andes, are likely to be a the top of the list for the natural gas industry.

   Andes prides itself on its small town charm and pristine outdoors. Besides the possibility of contaminated drinking water and polluted air, residents worry about heavy truck traffic that the fracking industry would bring into the region. Traffic might seem trivial compared to the other adverse effects of fracking, however it poses a major threat to quality of the local roads. Heavy truck traffic would add noise pollution, air pollution and would alter the overall atmosphere of the town. Grassroots organizations such as Andes Works!, have worked towards educating their community on the potential threats of fracking. The organization was formed by a group of concerned citizens back in 2011, and has since held an Andes Battle of the Bands along with other events to get the community together. Andes Works! cites the importance of local investment, innovation and focuses on meeting the needs of the community in a sustainable way.

   The local ban illustrates the uncertainty and skepticism many New Yorkers feel about the future of gas extraction in the state. New Yorkers have seen the apparent economic boom of towns opened up to fracking in Pennsylvania, however they’ve also seen the contaminated water, the polluted air, the traffic and the health impacts involved with the process. Despite the recent economic slump, this is a trade-off many aren’t willing to make.

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