New York Bill Should Limit Toxic Fracking Wastewater from Coming into State, Closes Loophole

Jul 27, 2020

Wastewater coming from hydro-fracking drilling sites will now be regulated as hazardous waste. Fracking is banned in New York but new measure could severely limit importing the toxic waste from other states.
Credit Global Warming Forum

Environmentalists and clean water advocates are celebrating passage of a bill that can help prevent the wastewater from hydro-fracking from getting into New York’s waterways.  There had been a loophole in clean water rules that prohibited any water used in oil or gas exploration from being categorized as hazardous. 


But Senator Rachel May, who wrote the bill, says the truckloads of liquid are anything but safe.

“Very toxic things get injected into the ground and then even more toxic things come out, especially radioactive materials.  We’re not producing those in New York but it’s still the case that fracking waste is coming into New York form other states.”

Fracking as a method of oil and gas drilling was banned in New York.  The wastewater though was coming from other states and being dumped into water treatment facilities, and even used on some roadways instead of road salt.  May says, then any rainfall or snowmelt would wash the toxins into streams, rivers, and lakes.  

The loophole in existing regualtions at both the state and federal levels prevented authorities from knowing what was in fracking wastewater.  Advocates for the increased regulation toxins and radiation hundres of times higher than safe limits might gt into drinking water, the environment and food grown in New York.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS PRAISED THE VOTE

“New York led the nation to ban fracking, and now the State Legislature has ensured that fracking waste will no longer pollute our clean waters,” said Rob Hayes, Clean Water Associate at Environmental Advocates NY. “This legislation puts an end to the egregious loophole that allows radioactive fracking waste to be shipped into our state and dangerously dumped in municipal landfills. Fracking waste is hazardous, and this legislation rightly classifies it as such. We thank Senator May for her tireless efforts to keep our drinking water safe from fracking waste."

“New Yorkers have known, from the very first days of our fight to ban fracking in the state, that fracking wastes are hazardous wastes, often containing a mix of cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive materials. With the closing of the hazardous waste loophole, our communities, our waters, and our lands will be much safer and healthier,” said Andra Leimanis, Communications and Outreach Director at Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE).

She calls the bill a big victory for numerous clean-water and environment groups that pushed for it for years.  It also adds another step in the climate crisis movement.

“Every time we recognize the knock-off costs of oil and gas production we also get a little closer to recognizing that we need to shift out of that kind of fuel and into cleaner fuel.” 

The bill doesn’t ban the fracking wastewater from coming to New York but will make it easier to regulate, which might discourage drilling companies.  May expects it will still be trucked through the state to others that will accept it more readily.