Ulster Lawmakers Prohibit Fracking Brine on County Property

Jul 26, 2012

The Ulster County Legislature adopted a local law banning the use of fracking brine on county owned property.  The law passed unanimously Wednesday evening.

County Executive Michael Hein must hold a public hearing before signing it. 

The lawmakers are concerned that the liquid byproduct of hydraulic fracturing to harvest natural gas from shale formations could be offered by drilling companies to the county as a free or low-cost alternative to salting or sanding roads in the winter.

The law, proposed by Legislator Kenneth Wishnick, only applies to county roads, but he would like to see it adopted on the local level.

“We hope that with the example we’ve set on banning it on county roads and also creating the form of the law to be enacted that towns will follow suit in Ulster County and hopefully in other jurisdictions throughout New York will follow as well,” Wishnick said.

New Paltz Town Supervisor Susan Zimet, a former county legislator, was also instrumental in crafting the law.

County Executive Michael Hein earlier this year issued an executive order banning fracking brine. County lawmakers, though, said such an order is not necessarily binding, carries no criminal penalties, and has only limited civil law remedies.

The new law authorizes criminal penalties including fines of $25,000 per incident and/or up to 15 days in jail.