Ridgefield fracking waste ban draws public’s support – NewsTimes

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Resident Michael Garguilo raises his hand to speak during Saturday’s public hearing on fracking waste in Ridgefield.

Resident Michael Garguilo raises his hand to speak during Saturday’s public hearing on fracking waste in Ridgefield.

Resident Michael Garguilo raises his hand to speak during Saturday’s public hearing on fracking waste in Ridgefield.

Resident Michael Garguilo raises his hand to speak during Saturday’s public hearing on fracking waste in Ridgefield.

Opposition to oil and gas fracking and use of byproducts from the process in Ridgefield was widely shared among about 25 Ridgefielders at a public hearing Saturday — suggesting considerable support for an ordinance to ban reuse of fracking by-products that is scheduled for a town meeting vote Wednesday.

“Please do not have any material from fracking in our town,” said Alisa Trachtenberg, of Hulda Lane. “A lot of people have wells, and the stuff is insidious.”

“I’m all for keeping the material out of here — it shouldn’t be on the planet,” said Bevin Carsten, of Lookout Drive.

There were also a few voices on the other side of the issue.

“I think it’s vague,” said Scott Deyoung of Caudatowa Drive, of the ordinance. He described himself as an engineer who’d done some work in the field of oil and gas extraction, though not much with fracking itself.

Deyoung criticized the approach of limiting use of materials based on their source — fracking, or other oil and gas extraction activities — rather than whether or not they contained toxins.

“It’s the properties of materials I care about. I don’t care where it comes from,” he said.

There’s little expectation actual fracking or hydraulic fracturing will be done for oil and gas extraction in Ridgefield — though a similar process is used in creating wells for drinking water. But the proposed ban would keep the fracking byproducts — which often contain an array of toxins, including radioactive substances — from being used in town.

It also supports an environmental goal by limiting reuse of by-products from oil and gas fracking in other locations, potentially making the process less financially attractive.

Much of Saturday’s discussion focused on the Board of Selectmen’s efforts to draw up an alternative ordinance, which addressed some concerns.

Michael Garguilo, a leader of the petitioning effort that collected more than 600 signatures in support of the ordinance, dismissed the idea that better versions of an anti-fracking ordinance have been passed in other towns, or might be proposed in Ridgefield with more time to work on it.

“This is the best ordinance there is,” Garguilo said near the end of the hearing. “There was a second ordinance that was sort of put forward in the process. I got a chance to review both of them side by side…The other ordinance has loopholes.”

The ordinance proposed by petitioners, he said, had passed muster with numerous experts.

“I’ve met with a lot of environmental lawyers,” he said, “…this ordinance has all the protections in it — it’s fair.”

The proposed ordinance carries fines of up to $250, and requirements to remediate damage and reimburse the town for costs related to violations.

Although the selectmen worked on a different version of an anti-fracking ordinance, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said that they were obligated to bring the specific ordinance sought by the petitioners to the town meeting.

“We cannot alter the wording,” Marconi said.

Asked if voters at the town meeting could seek to amend the wording, Marconi said the past practice was to allow votes on amendment proposals “if it’s a minor, grammatical change” but not if the meaning is altered.

In organizing the petition effort, Garguilo said, he’d sought feedback from O&G Industries, a major asphalt supplier. He quoted Sue Duffy, an assistant vice president of the materials division at O&G, as saying: “The petition and ordinance put forward will not an impact on O&G. We look forward to continuing to work in the Ridgefield area.”

Garguilo said other towns’ experience showed that fears and rumors about the ordinance had little basis in the reality.

“In no way does this or will this ordinance prevent people from using asphalt on the roads,” he said. “This has been passed by 53 other communities in Connecticut and they still asphalt the road…You may hear you can’t tar your roofs — none of that is in this ordinance.”

Source

https://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Ridgefield-fracking-waste-ban-draws-public-s-13514605.php

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