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Key to Legislative Ratings: Major Benefit

Substantial Benefit


A.7013 (Sweeney, et al.) S.4616 (Avella, et al.) Summary

This bill would make all hazardous waste produced from oil and gas drilling subject to the same regulations for hazardous waste generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal that apply to other industries operating in New York.



The oil and gas industry is currently exempt from New York State laws governing hazardous waste transport and disposal. Even though a great deal of the wastewater generated by dirty gas drilling (fracking) meets the state definition of hazardous, its not treated as such. Fracking chemicals arrive at the drilling site often as regulated hazardous materials, but federal and state exemptions allow drillers that pump these harmful chemicals into the ground to treat the wastes that come back up as standard industrial waste. Carcinogenic benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde are common frack fluid ingredients and the returning flowback water also brings up naturally occurring salts, heavy metals, and radioactive particles. Fracking wastewater that enters local sewage treatment plantssometimes with radiation levels hundreds of times the safe limits for drinking watergoes right back into the rivers and streams that supply water to millions of people. New York is already receiving drilling wastes from operations in Pennsylvania. And with Pennsylvanias recent decision to ship most of its wastewaters out of state, the pressures on New York to accept these wastes are likely to increase. Although there has been a de facto moratorium on drilling horizontal gas wells in New York since 2008, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued permits for nearly 1,000 new vertical oil and gas wells, of which 90 percent have used the fracking process. Only the industry knows for sure if these hazardous wastes were handled and treated properly. Closing the hazardous waste loophole will create extra safeguards to avoid accidents and ensure proper waste treatment. It will also ensure also fracking wastes stay out of municipal water treatment plants and the waterways that provide drinking water, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and habitat for wildlife.

Environmental Advocates of New York strongly supports this bill.

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