Historic hazardous waste loophole bill passes NYS Assembly

Yesterday afternoon, the NYS Assembly passed first-of-its-kind in the nation legislation to close a gaping loophole in state law favoring the oil and gas industry.  The bill - sponsored by Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair Robert Sweeney - would remove an exemption from the definition of hazardous waste for solid wastes and wastewaters generated in oil and gas development.

As I have previously blogged, this historic, yet completely common-sense, legislation does a couple of critical things.  First, it levels the playing field so that the oil and gas industry is subject to playing by the same rules that govern pretty much every other industry in the state.  Now, even though much of the waste it generates is plainly hazardous, the industry gets a free pass that exempts its waste from the transportation, tracking, treatment, storage and disposal requirements that apply to other waste.

Second, it addresses what is already a problem in NYS - even while the de facto moratorium against new fracking remains in place.  Hazardous wastes are already being generated by current oil and gas development not subject to the moratorium within the state.  And additional wastes are being brought over the border from on-goin Marcellus Shale drilling operations in Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately - because of the loophole - no one is testing or tracking this waste, so exactly how much of it is being generated or disposed of in the state is uncertain.  That's a fundamental reason we need this bill to become law right now.

All eyes are now on the state Senate to stand up for the drinking water supplies and health of all New Yorkers by passing the companion measure.  With just days remaining in the legislative session, the time to call on your senators to take action is now.

Related Issues

Related Blogs