Jerusalem residents speak out against ‘fracking’

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The results are in and Jerusalem residents have overwhelmingly stated their opposition to natural gas hydrofracking in their township and the Finger Lakes region.  

The July 26th Forum at Keuka College (attended by an overflow crowd of more than 300 people from the Keuka watershed region) produced a questionnaire sampling of 170 Jerusalem residents.  

Tabulations stated that…

• 100 percent support for Jerusalem’s current Comprehensive Plan which “emphasizes agriculture, tourism and open spaces using the asset of clean water.”

• 97.6 percent felt that slick-water hydrofrack drilling is inconsistent with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.

• 99.4 percent think that flowback or toxic drilling wastewater from natural gas drilling outside the town should not be accepted for disposal in the Town of Jerusalem.

• 98.3 percent stated that the cuttings from mining (drilling) operations brought in from outside the town should not be accepted for waste disposal in the Town of Jerusalem.

• 96.3 percent emphasized that the character of the town’s culture and lifestyle would be altered dramatically by massive truck traffic that would cause 24/7 congestion, noise and air pollution and at times major damage to the roads.  As such residents felt that truck traffic involved in drilling operations should be restricted from Town of Jerusalem roads.

Recognizing that many residents were unable to attend or to express their views, an invitation was extended to all residents to write and share their views with the Town Supervisor, Board and a volunteer committee which was formed by the Town following the adoption of their moratorium on hydrofracking in March of 2011.  Since that time, the Towns of Barrington and Milo have adopted similar ordinances, with Benton slated for a public hearing on their year-long moratorium in September.

The excerpts that follow were culled from the letters that were submitted and compiled by a member of Jerusalem’s Hydrofrack Impact Study Committee. The current ratio of letters against hydrofracking to those for hydrofracking is 30 to 1.

“There is currently too much risk in the process.  The problems of Pennsylvania will be the problems of our community in a few years if drilling is allowed to proceed in our beautiful area.”   Lana G.

“The governor has prohibited the process in the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse, thus protecting these two communities water supply.  His doing so raise further questions.  Any process so detrimental to these watersheds must also be capable of destroying all watersheds.  The Town of Jerusalem is located in a unique region of the state, and our water, air, resources, agricultural interests and lifestyles are our most valued assets.  Hydrofracking should find no place or future in the town, county and region.”  Joyce and Keith L.

“I wish to express my adamant and total opposition to allowing the process known commonly as Hydrofracking to occur in the Town of Jerusalem or anywhere within the Keuka Lake watershed. 

Furthermore, transport of chemicals used in the hydrofracking process or waste products associated with this type of drilling should be banned from Town roadways.”  Keith T.

“Many people in our town, myself included, earn a living from the land.  Chemical contamination of well water, farm-land, or Keuka Lake would be devastating to our local economy.”  Deborah M.

“How terribly ironic a study it would be if there would happen to be an accident, that would destroy water quality in Keuka Lake, and in the same town that the Finger Lakes Museum will be built.”  Michael W.

“I am a former chemist, specialized in detection and monitoring water pollution, and I am very much opposed to high volume hydraulic fracturing in the Yates County area.  The risk of spillage and contamination is far too great for aquifers of Keuka Lake and its tributaries, and I know that cleaning up any size spill is virtually impossible to do in our lifetime. Please know that even though I am a Town of Milo resident, actions in Jerusalem can certainly affect my family for generations to come.”  Nicholas L.  

 “I am a plant pathologist working on grape diseases at Cornell University.   I understand the importance of keeping the water and land free of harmful chemicals so that farmers can maintain their livelihood without risk of contamination.  Decisions to allow a risky activity, such as hydrofracking, warrant the use of precaution, not carelessness.  There are currently not enough guarantees of safe natural gas extraction using hydrofracking to allow it to be conducted.”  Nicole L.

“I sincerely hope that the town will enact home rule laws forbidding the practice of hydrofracking and also enact road use laws that protect the town from heavy truck use.  Clean water and air is crucial to our way of life.”  Joyce H.

“… hydrofracking, storage of hydrofracked waste materials and heavy industry are not in keeping with our Comprehensive Plan.  We should be promoting conservation of natural resources, preservation of agriculture and open space, promotion of effective, carbon neutral or carbon negative renewable energies.  By capitalizing on profitable tourism, agriculture and jobs created by effective renewable energies we will be able to preserve our lake, our beautiful region and prosper too.”  Len S.

 “I add my voice to urge the Jerusalem Town Board to outlaw not only hydro-fracking but any process that could destroy the inherent beauty and/or the treasures of the Finger Lakes.  These attributes are not of our making, but treasures with which we have been entrusted to safeguard, not for ourselves, but for future generations.”  Lucia W.

Questionnaire results and letters are available for review at the Jerusalem Town Hall.

The resident Hydrofrack Impact Study Committee is responding to these overwhelming community sentiments and is drafting an ordinance with these measures in mind to present to the Town Board.  

Candidates running for town office(s) will be canvassed to see whether they are aligned with the results of the questionnaire and submitted letters.