In a largely symbolic move, officials of the City of Buffalo, New York, voted unanimousy to ban the natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”
The ordinance also bans storing, transferring, treating or disposing fracking waste within the city (Reuters).
The vote occurred on Tuesday, the same day the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency submitted a draft plan to study fracking’s dangerous effects on groundwater. Initial findings from the study are expected to be made public by the end of 2012.
During the hydraulic fracturing process, “millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well” (Gasland).
As Care2′s Kristina Chew reported just days ago, environmentalists and regulators have become increasingly concerned that the fracking chemicals—including toluene, xylene and benzene, a carcinogen, which are all from diesel gas—are seeping out into underground sources of drinking water, in violation of the Safe Water Drinking Act.
Currently, no companies have fracking operations in progress in Buffalo, and none are officially proposed. However, city officials fear that fracking waste water from nearby operations was reaching the city sewer system (Reuters).
Last month, 46 members of Congress wrote a letter in support of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s request that natural gas companies be required to disclose what chemicals they use during the fracking process, and many gas company investors have echoed this request.
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Image Credit: Flickr - marcellus protest