While hydrofracking hasn’t moved forward in New York, for years, the state has opened its doors to tons of fracking waste from Pennsylvania.

According to Environmental Advocates of New York, between 2010-17, New York landfills accepted at least 609,000 tons and 23,000 barrels of fracking waste. In 2018, three landfills, in Allegany, Steuben, and Chemung counties, accepted 18,522 tons of waste.

What You Need To Know

  • The legislature passed 10 bills last week that environmental groups have been advocating for

  • One of the bills re-classifies fracking material as hazardous waste

  • Landfills will have to jump through many more regulatory hoops in order to continue accepting fracking waste from Pennsylvania if the governor signs the bill

Last week the legislature passed a bill titled “Closing the Hazardous Waste Loophole” sponsored by Senator Rachel May and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, that, if signed by the governor, will reclassify all waste from hydrofracking as hazardous.

This means fracking waste will be subject to regulations requiring compliance inspections, permits, and for facilities that treat, store or dispose of hazardous waste, it means taking corrective action – in other words, investigating and cleaning up known releases.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation also requires that hazardous waste is tracked using a “cradle to grave” approach.

“This means that the entities handling a particular shipment of hazardous waste must use and be identified on a hazardous waste manifest document to track the shipment,” the DEC website states.

Peter Iwanowicz, the executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, says the bill will close a long-standing loophole.

“The oil and gas industry is 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’s definition of hazardous,” he said.

Lawmakers tackled several other environmental bills during the week-long summer session.

One bill bans the manufacture, sales and distribution of food packing that has been coated with PFAS chemicals. The chemicals are used as a grease-repellant in paperboard and food wrappers. PFAS are linked to high rates of thyroid disease, immune suppression, and reduced fertility.

“We urge Governor Cuomo to not delay in signing these bills into law,” said Iwanowicz. “We also call on the legislature and governor to come back soon and adopt a bold plan that makes polluters pay for the climate crisis they’ve caused and provide desperately needed funds to frontline communities who’ve been most impacted by a changing climate.”