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Clinton County Passes Fracking Waste Ban

Anti-fracking signs

The Clinton County Legislature has approved a law banning the sale, transport, storage and disposal of fracking and other waste. The League of Women Voters had pushed for its passage.

The new Clinton County law applies to hydraulic fracturing, natural gas, and oil waste materials. It bans the application of such waste on any road or property. It cannot be brought into or used in any wastewater treatment facilities or solid waste management facility in the county.  It also bars all sales, acquisition, storage, handling, treatment and/or processing of the materials within the county.

Prior to the legislators’ official consideration of the proposal, a public hearing was held.  League of Women Voters hydraulic fracturing committee co-chair Mary Dufor stepped up to the podium to say she was hopeful there would be a ban on all hydraulic fracturing materials in the county.  “Dumping, spreading on land or water treatment would allow multiple toxins and radioactivity to build up in our soil and water resources causing multiple public health issues for us, our children and  future generations.”

Plattsburgh City Councilor Ward Two Democrat Mike Kelly stepped up and reminded his county counterparts that the city of Plattsburgh unanimously passed a similar resolution.  “It was not a very hard sell because when you look into the issue of fracking and disposing of its waste, it’s very easy to see that it’s a dangerous process. Your legislation sends a very strong message to the governor that in every corner of the state people are opposed to fracking. And they’re opposed to the byproducts of fracking.”

During the legislature’s regular session, which immediately followed the public hearing, legislators voted on the waste ban.  “Resolution 481 adopting Local Law number one. All in Favor: aye.  Opposed?  Motion carries.”

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A number of League of Women Voters members attended the meeting. Mona White says each county that passes fracking bans sends a message to Albany, where a statewide de facto moratorium on fracking remains in effect.  “The Assembly has passed a law to make it throughout the state. One of the senators has introduced one in the Senate and nothing happened. But we’re hoping that we can get to Albany and get this done.  Massachusetts is working on theirs. Connecticut has passed a moratorium. The legislature in New Jersey has and Clinton County is the thirteenth county in New York State to effect a ban.”

Paula Yellin praised the Clinton County legislators’ work on the local statute.  “They have studied way beyond anything we ever said to them. And they wrote a beautiful bill. It is a fantastic bill. It’s going to be a model for the state.”   Mona White adds  “Because it’s not just the gas exploration, it’s oil also, which is equally dangerous.”

Area One Democrat Harry McManus of Rouses Point was the lead sponsor of the new county law. He says following a presentation by the League of Women Voters, he did his own research and felt the waste products could be a threat to Clinton County.  “Where is that waste going to go? Let’s assume that the governor takes the moratorium off.  We might be a prime candidate for disposal, even though you would think the detriment would be the cost of transportation.  So I felt that was an imminent possibility.  Maybe there won’t ever be any fracking in New York State. Who knows? But I think it was important for the legislature to speak with one voice and make a stand on this issue.”

McManus confirmed that no fracking waste is currently being transported into Clinton County.

The new law will take effect 60 days after it is filed with the New York State Secretary of State’s office.

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