Community to Testify at Hearing to Tell Amherst Town Board Members to Pass Local Law
WHAT: On Monday, April 28th, Amherst town board members Mark Manna and Ramona Popowich will introduce a resolution that will instruct the Amherst town attorney to draft legislation to ban fracking and fracking waste. This is the first step toward a law that would prohibit fracking and fracking waste disposal throughout the town, including the spreading of brine on town roads. If the board were to pass a local law opposing fracking, they would be joining over 170 municipalities across New York State that have passed similar measures. Amherst and area residents will be in attendance Mondayto voice their support and ask the board to pass the resolution and then a local law to follow.
“The Town Board of Amherst must pass legislation to ban fracking and fracking wastes, including prohibiting the spreading of drilling waste on our town roads. Amherst residents deserve protection from the contaminated water, smog-filled air, and health consequences of the reckless and dangerous gas industry. The board must put Amherst residents’ health and future before these corporate interests,” stated Sara Schultz of Amherst Against Fracking and the Sierra Club Niagara Group.
WHEN: Monday, April 28, 2014 at 6:45 pm.
WHERE: Town of Amherst Municipal Building, 5583 Main Street, Williamsville, NY 14221.
WHO: Amherst Against Fracking, Western NY Drilling Defense, Food & Water Watch, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Sierra Club Niagara Group, and concerned Amherst residents.
WHY: Governor Cuomo is weighing whether or not to allow fracking in New York State. With or without regulations in place, fracking is a menaceto the environment, public health and emits greenhouse gases at disturbing levels that undermine its credentials as beneficial for the environment to avoid climate change. Governor Cuomo has insisted that his decision would be guided by science, but his administration’s actions thus far have lacked transparency and scientific rigor. A report published last October by Environment New York Research & Policy Center indicates just how bad fracking would be for our communities. Citing data from 17 states over a nine-year period, scientists found case after case of contaminated drinking water, chemical spills and elevated levels of airborne carcinogens. Amherst, NY sits atop the Utica and Marcellus shale formations, both of which would need to be fracked in order to reach the natural gas deposits, and the town also has several capped gas wells which could be converted to horizontal fracked wells.
While drilling itself is very dangerous, it’s important to be aware of the risk posed by fracking waste, as well. The millions of gallons of potentially radioactive, toxic wastewater produced from fracking poses a major disposal problem. According to the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, more than 600 chemicals are used in the fracking process, about 25% of the chemicals used in fracking fluid have been demonstrated to cause cancer or mutations, and 47% of these products have the potential to affect the endocrine system and reproduction. Currently the wastes coming in from Pennsylvania fracking operations are under-regulated in New York. The gas industry pawns fracking waste off on unknowing municipalities and treatment facilities that cannot handle the waste properly and it often goes miscategorized as “industrial waste”. Traditional municipal waste treatment plants cannot properly handle the complicated waste fracking produces, including the plant in Amherst as it is a biological waste treatment plant.
In some areas chemical-laden fracking wastewater, called brine, is sprayed on dusty roads as road treatment or turned into a salt to melt ice, exposing communities to the chemicals used in drilling and potential radioactivity in the waste. Despite a moratorium on fracking in New York State, Amherst faces the threat of spreading fracking byproduct on town roads, which can now be spread on roads in Wyoming, Erie, Cattaraugus, and Seneca counties, according to state documents obtained by Riverkeeper, who states that they are concerned about these carcinogens entering water supplies. The proposed legislation to ban fracking and fracking wastes in Amherst would protect residents from this danger.