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Fracking debate in Livingston County heats up

Posted at: 02/04/2013 12:24 PM
Updated at: 02/04/2013 12:25 PM
By: Nikki Rudd

A lawsuit in Livingston County is making national headlines. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the town of Avon are at the center of this lawsuit. A national gas drilling company says a moratorium on hydrofracking in Avon is putting them out of business and is suing for $50 million in damages.

The $50 million of taxpayer money is at stake.

One side is talking about keeping business and jobs in western New York. The other worried about the potential environmental hazards of hydrofracking.

Dozens of people protested in front of the Livingston County Courthouse. They say hydrofracking is dangerous and destructive. They're supporting the town of Avon and it's one year ban on oil and gas drilling.

But there was also support in the courtroom for Lenape Resources. The national gas drilling company filed this lawsuit in November. The attorney for the company says the town ban is forcing Lenape out of business and wants $50 in damages. He argued that the town of Avon does not have the authority to regulate the natural gas industry, that's the state's job.

The attorney for Avon argued that the town is within its rights and the decisions like this should lie with local, democratically elected officials who know what's best for their communities.

News10NBC spoke with people on both sides including an Avon farmer who wants hydrofracking on his property.

Joe Tuchrello, Avon farmer, said, "I want our other new gas well. We need it to stay in business. How can we compete worldwide if we don't use our natural resources?"

Bob Thompson, Frack Free Genesee, said, "We've seen the damage that it does. We've talked to the people that its harmed. It's a nasty industry, the stuff they put in the ground is not going anywhere any time soon."

Judge Robert Wiggins heard both sides. He will decide if this ban in Avon is legal.