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ACTIVISM: Fracktivism at work

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Before there was such a thing as the environmental movement, Mohandas Gandhi warned of the dangers of industrialization and espoused living in balance with the earth.

Fittingly, the Rochester-based institute that bears his name is stepping into the fracking debate. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, September 21, the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence will hold an event to raise awareness of hydraulic fracturing and to inspire people to take a stand against it. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Rochester group of the Sierra Club, is at Cobbs Hill Park.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is doing an environmental review of high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing in New York's shale formations. The DEC will decide whether to allow fracking based on that review, but Governor Cuomo's administration has floated a plan to allow fracking in Southern Tier communities that support the technique.

The state's actions have inspired the Gandhi Institute to step-up its anti-fracking efforts, says George Payne, the institute's peace and justice educator.

Make Peace, Don't Frack is timed to coincide with the International Day of Peace. The event includes shirt-making, fracking teach-ins, a vigil around Lake Riley, and a symbolic demonstration along I-490. Training on civil disobedience will also be available, though that aspect won't be handled by the Gandhi Institute or Sierra Club.

Sierra Club members will focus on education, particularly on protecting New York's water bodies from fracking. New York has abundant clean water, as does the rest of the Great Lakes region. But some local critics are concerned that fracking could contaminate Rochester's Hemlock and Canadice Lakes water supplies.

And local Sierra Club officials say they're concerned by Monroe County's refusal to rule-out treating fracking wastewater at the county's plant. The county says it'd handle the request the same as other treatment requests, which involves a review of whether county facilities can handle the task.

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