Guilford BOS Approves Anti-Fracking Waste Ordinance
Joining numerous other towns across the state of Connecticut, at a special meeting on March 13, the Guilford Board of Selectmen (BOS) unanimously approved the proposed Hydraulic Fracturing and Extraction Waste Prohibition Ordinance, formally banning the use of products that contain fracking waste in town.
Fracking waste, as the name suggests, is a byproduct of fracking (short for hydraulic fracturing), which uses high-pressure water to extract petroleum products from bedrock. While fracking is not practiced in the state, the amount of waste generated at fracking sites often requires the waste to move across state lines either for disposal or repurposing. Due to Connecticut’s proximity to Pennsylvania, a state with a large fracking industry, local groups have been looking a ways to ban the liquid waste within this state.
Residents first gathered at the BOS meeting on Jan. 16 to ask the board to consider a ban. According to a presentation from resident Terri Cain, if Guilford were to pass a local ordinance banning fracking waste, it would be the 35th municipality in the state to do so. Branford has already passed a ban and Madison is considering a ban.
According to the presentation, oil and gas drilling waste may include toxins and radioactive radium that are known to cause cancers, nervous system and organ damage, birth defects, and many other health problems.
The State of Connecticut currently has a temporary moratorium on fracking waste storage, but critics say it is filled with loopholes. State law also mandates the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection to submit regulations for review by July 1.
The draft ordinance was the same document used by 33 other municipalities in the state, but selectmen agreed it would be prudent to have the town attorney review the document. The final ordinance is based on the same document used by other towns, but has been adjusted to conform with Guilford ordinances and purchasing procedures.
At the special meeting on March 13, residents came out to speak in favor of the ordinance. Cain said this ban is important and residents have a responsibility to protect the physical and fiscal health of the community as well as future generations.
“We have a responsibility to plan for the future by reducing the risks to our local economy that would arise from possible remediation and restitution expenditures if products from fracking waste contaminated our town,” she said.
A resident took issue with the fact that the Guilford ordinance doesn’t regulate the transportation of fracking waste through the town, but the town’s legal counsel said a municipality does not have the authority to ban transportation as it interferes with federal interstate commerce regulations.
Despite some municipal legal limitations, resident Val Chamberlain said he was pleased to see local government take on this issue.
“I am really encouraged and thankful that we are taking this on locally,” he said. “…If enough towns enact these ordinances eventually the state will say, ‘OK, we have got to do something’ and eventually if enough states do it, maybe the federal government will say, ‘OK, we have got to do something.’”