Clinton County legislators and councilors in the city of Plattsburgh are poised to limit hydraulic fracturing, the divisive gas drilling process, and associated materials in the area.
In February, the League of Women Voters of the North Country’s HydroFracking Study Group made a presentation to Clinton County legislators on the public health and environmental concerns surrounding the use of fracking waste. Study Group co-chair Mary Dufort (‘do-four”) says the industry is growing exponentially. While there is minimal concern that actual drilling will occur in the North Country, with New York still under a de facto drilling moratorium while state officials conduct an open-ended health review, there is worry about the use or disposal of fracking’s byproducts. “Because of the huge amount of waste product, that we feel is toxic and hazardous to health and clean water, we will likely be asked to in some way participate in disposal of this waste product. Because there just are not enough places to take it.
The presentation led Clinton County legislator Harry McManus to introduce a resolution that focuses on preventing fracking waste from being used or disposed of in the local landfill. “I don’t think that we’re in danger of fracking up here because the aquifers don’t exist up here. But sometimes downstate tends to maybe look at upstate as a potential area for dumping some of their waste. It was a concern of mine and I think the rest of the committee shared that. Before it’s done we will have had three committees at the county level who will be looking at this issue. Down the road if it becomes an issue relative to the waste from fracking, we’re not going to be using that in Clinton County.”
A councilor in the city of Plattsburgh also plans to present a resolution to limit or bar fracking materials use. Michael Kelly did not return calls in time for this broadcast, but The Press Republican reports that his measure would ban hydraulic fracturing and any associated activities such as the use of a brined road deicer. Storage of fracked materials and waste within the city limits would be prohibited. The resolution would also ban any use of city water during the process.
County Legislator Harry McManus says while he is no expert in the process, he and other county leaders are trying to be proactive and prevent potential health and environmental problems. “First of all there is a proprietary issue relative to some of the chemicals used in the fracking process. What does come out of the waste? If you don’t know what it is and it gets in your landfill that potentially causes issues. The other is that spreading it on the roads would get it into the water table and there would be tremendous concerns about, again, chemicals getting into the water table. We already have issues in the county relative to salt in the water in parts of the county.”
According to the League of Women Voters of the North Country, 12 counties in New York State have passed legislation to control or ban the introduction of fracked waste and byproducts in their jurisdictions.