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Tue March 4, 2014
A Fracking Conundrum in Connecticut: What to Do With All That Waste
As America witnesses a record boom in gas production, Connecticut lawmakers are once again trying to figure out what to do with fracking waste.
State Rep. Matt Lesser
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," produces a lot of wastewater, which contains high levels of salt and other chemicals. Currently, thanks to something called the Bentsen Amendment, there's not much federal clarity on what to do with that waste.
Now, Connecticut lawmakers are considering two proposals: ban fracking waste from the state entirely, or follow the lead of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and treat it as a regulated business opportunity.
Eric Brown, with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, spoke to lawmakers during a public hearing last week. He said, "This is not the next biblical plague that many want to make it sound to be."
Brown said Connecticut waste handlers do have the capacity to deal with the toxicity of fracking by-products, and that they can build a new economy on it through treatment and recycling.
State Representative Matt Lesser has a different view. "I think the cleanest, easiest way of addressing this issue is simply to prevent it from coming here in the first place," he said. Lesser said different chemical cocktails are used at individual drill sites, which would make it impossible to know exactly what is in the waste coming to Connecticut.
"If you chose to frack in your state, great," Lesser said. "I think that is your decision. That is your choice. But if you choose to do so with no environmental regulations and no protections for public health, you shouldn't be able to outsource the consequences of that decision to the people of Connecticut."
The Environment Committee will now consider both bills.