Hydrofracking in Avon
Posted at: 07/10/2012 5:09 PM
| Updated at: 07/10/2012 6:05 PM
By: Ray Levato | WHEC.com
The center of the hydrofracking controversy has shifted south of Rochester to the small farming community of Avon. Even national news organizations have taken notice of what’s happening in Avon.
The Avon Town Board recently adopted a one year moratorium on hydrofracking. In response, a natural gas drilling company decided to shut down its existing gas wells. The natural gas company in question is headquartered in Alexander, south of Batavia, but it has dozens of wells in Livingston County, including 14 in the town of Avon.
The natural gas wells are in a corn field or some other out of the way location. They are what are called vertically drilled wells, not the newer technology hydraulic horizontal wells that are included in the Avon moratorium.
David LeFeber, Avon Town Supervisor, said, “Residents feel strongly about the quality of life and the atmosphere we have here and the character of our community.”
Avon Town Supervisor David LeFeber says town residents pushed for the moratorium and the board was careful to grandfather in existing vertical wells.
LeFeber said, “It's certainly not like the town has any intent or is forcing him to shut these wells down. I think we would like him to continue.”
The natural gas wells are owned by Lenape Resources.
John Holko, President of Lenape Resources Corp, said, “The moratorium as written in Avon is basically a moratorium against the extraction of natural gas which is my business. So to be cautious and not get anybody, myself or my land owners or my employees in trouble, I basically took the operations I have in Avon, which are 16 wells and a gathering system, and shut it down.”
Gary Steele has a natural gas well on his property on Routes 5 and 20, but says no one has contacted him from the gas company about shutting it down.
Steele said, “I think it would be detrimental to the whole thing. You're looking at people all up and down this whole valley who rely on that gas. So at that point they're going to have to figure out what they're going to do whether it is propane or wood heat or something they're going to have to switch to. It sounds like that's going to be a considerable amount of money.”
Townspeople generally favor the moratorium. One woman had this to say about the gas company shutting down its existing wells.
Sandy Irish said, “Well, I don't think it's fair for them to stop when this doesn't affect them at all.”
The gas company president, who is also a member of the State Oil and Gas Association of New York, says his action is not in protest.
The State DEC report is due out soon. Governor Cuomo has already let it be known that he favors allowing hydrofracking in areas that want it.
The Livingston County Administrator’s Office say Avon is the 12th town with at least two others considering a moratorium.