Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has approved a local law banning hydraulic fracturing, also know as fracking, on county-owned land.
The Erie County Legislature voted 9-2 last month in favor of outlawing the controversial gas drilling method. The law also prohibits the acceptance of fracking waste in county-owned sewage treatment plants.
Poloncarz says residents showed overwhelming support of the ban at a recent public hearing. The approval does not ban fracking altogether in the county, only on land owned by the county, such as parks.
Protecting our land and water resources is important to preserving our heritage, and while this law is limited in scope and partially overlaps the Erie County Parks Protection Law that has been on the books since 1993, the overwhelming and vocal public support for such a ban cannot be ignored,” Poloncarz said in a statement.
Fracking pumps high volumes of water, sand, and chemicals deep underground to crack shale rock and release natural gas.
New York State has a moratorium on hydrofracking as the state's health commissioner continues to study its environmental effects. Opponents say fracking brings with it environmental risks. Supporters say it has energy and economic benefits.
"I know that there is a tremendous amount of discussion on fracking and whether it pollutes water supplies in other parts of this country, and I just didn't think that was a risk we should take here," Poloncarz told WBFO News.
One local anti-fracking group says it is pleased with the county executive's approval.
“We’re relieved that County Executive Poloncarz paid attention to the thousands of Erie County residents who spoke up in favor of a ban and the bipartisan group of Erie County legislators who voted in favor of it. The evidence is clear – fracking and its waste brings unacceptable risks of water contamination and health impacts. Erie County and the other counties statewide that have voted for a ban are sending a clear message to Governor Cuomo – that all parts of New York want him to ban fracking," said Rita Yelda of Food & Water Watch and Western NY Drilling Defense.