Bill would ban fracking waste from the state
Connecticut's geology doesn't support the exploration of oil or natural gas, but state lawmakers approved legislation Monday to ban waste imported from states where hydraulic fracturing -- fracking -- takes place.
A similar bill, in the state House, would create a two-year moratorium on fracking waste while state environmental officials study the issue.
If approved in the state Senate and House and signed into law by the governor, the bill would prohibit the disposal or storage of wastewater from wells and other byproducts of fracking, which uses water at high pressure to break up shale and release oil and natural gas.
The closest of the sedimentary deposits subject to fracking include the Marcellus shale of Pennsylvania and New York. Residents there have filed lawsuits over the alleged contamination of drinking water supplies.
"The science has become very strong that fracking waste, often created a mile under the earth's surface is highly radioactive," said Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, co-chairman of the legislative Environment Committee, who is also on the Judiciary Committee. "It's full of toxic metals and bromides, so we are trying to restrict that in Connecticut."
"Right now the science is pretty potent with respect to these wastes," Meyer said. "And we're not at a point where the research has shown how to make it non-toxic."
"We came down on the side of protection here," he added. "Why should fracking waste have to come from another state into Connecticut? We have no known natural gas in the state of Connecticut."
Those opposed to the legislation, including state Sen. Michael A. McLachlan (R-Danbury), said Connecticut should wait a little longer for a final report on the issue from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
"In fact there is even a world-renowned scientist from Yale University who's participating in that panel of inspecting what the challenges are," McLachlan said. "As I understand an initial report was filed recently and they anticipate a final report on this topic to be completed by the end of the year. I'm just sensing that this may be premature if the experts have not chimed in to give us the details of what the challenges are."
"The federal definition of hazardous materials does not cover fracking waste, and that is part of our problem," said Meyer, who added the Environment Committee has not found the EPA very "responsive" on the issue and other contaminates.
"The federal EPA has just not come down with any particular position," he said.
"I think we're jumping the gun, so to speak," McLachlan said. "There's no fracking waste coming to Connecticut anytime soon, to my understanding, and let us be sure this is the right way to go. Are you sending a dangerous message to the natural gas industry? And how does it impact their business?
"If states across the nation take up this legislation without the science to back it up,," McLachlan said, "what are we doing to the natural gas industry that everyone in this industry has been rooting for and voting for, because it's an inexpensive form of energy for the state of Connecticut?"
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