On February 8, officials from Buffalo, New York voted unanimously to ban fracking, the industry term for hydraulic fracturing, a technique used for natural gas drilling. They also voted to ban the storage, transfer, treatment, and disposal of fracking waste within the city. The ordinance is largely a symbolic measure, as no fracking operations currently exist or have been proposed in the City of Buffalo, but there are fears that waste water from nearby fracking operations could reach the city sewer system.
The fracking process injects millions of gallons of sand, water, and unspecified chemicals under high pressure into a well to fracture the shale and allow natural gas to flow more freely. But there are concerns that toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, and xylene are seeping into underground drinking water sources as a result of fracking operations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has drafted a plan to study the effect of fracking on groundwater, the results of which should be made public by the end of next year. Forty-six members of Congress support requiring natural gas companies to disclose what chemicals they use for fracking, a move that is also supported by gas company investors.
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