For Immediate Release
In an attempt to undercut a wave of grassroots organizing in dozens of communities across the state, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) has unveiled a seriously flawed model ordinance that will fail to fully protect communities from the dangers of fracking waste.
The CCM’s model ordinance relies on a narrow definition of fracking waste, does not apply to oil and gas waste derived from conventional wells, and fails to ban potentially dangerous substances including leachate from solid waste and brine from underground wells. And the organization is making dubious claims about the adverse effects that fracking waste bans have had on the towns that have enacted them.
The model ordinance also crafts exceptions that would allow drilling waste to be used in construction and roads, which poses serious risks of toxic and radioactive contamination. Efforts to use fracking waste brine for dust suppression or as a de-icing agent, for instance, have resulted in lead and radioactive radium contamination, causing state regulators in Pennsylvania to rescind the relevant permits.
In their announcement, the CCM claims that it is acting in response to “communities faced with growing pressures by the Food and Water Watch Association (FWWA) and others to enact an overly expansive ordinance seeking to ban hydraulic fracturing waste.” But the “pressure” has come from residents who are seeking to pass ordinances to protect public health and clean water. In fact, elected leaders and commission members have spearheaded passage of these ordinances in many towns and cities, and several municipalities that have passed fully protective ordinances have officials sitting on CCM’s board.
“We have built a grassroots movement of concerned residents who wish to protect their families and neighbors from the hazards of shipping, storing and treating fracking waste,” said Jen Siskind, local coordinator with Food & Water Watch. “It has been an empowering process, one that shows how citizen involvement in a democracy can produce tangible benefits. The CCM’s attempt to undercut this is more than just bizarre; if towns adopt this ordinance, they could leave themselves exposed to public health problems and costly remediation. The answer is to pass a strong waste ban ordinance, as nearly 50 towns and cities have already done.”
The CCM announcement included the astonishing claim that towns that have passed comprehensive waste bans have been “paralyzed... from performing any infrastructure improvements or road projects, effectively chilling the economic development environment for many communities.” There is no evidence to support this dubious argument. Towns that have passed such strict ordinances banning fracking waste have not experienced the adverse consequences.
The comprehensive bans supported by Food & Water Watch have been enacted in 49 towns and cities in Connecticut. The language is based on similar legislation passed in five counties in New York state, and was crafted by experts in environmental law and public health. These laws clearly define extraction activities and wastes that are banned, but do not ban products necessary for infrastructure and road projects.