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Amherst moves toward fracking ban

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas dominated Monday night's Amherst Town Board meeting as the members voted to start writing a law to ban the process in the town.

There are actually gas wells in the town and Building Commissioner Tom Ketchum told the board there is nothing in the zoning code or planning rules dealing with fracking.

In response, the board is asking town lawyers to draw up a ban, not only on actual drilling but also on treating fracking waste in the town sewage treatment plant and on spraying the waste on town roads. Erie County bars waste use on county roads.

Speaker after speaker attacked fracking and signs were waved opposing the process.
"Not only do we, the residents, want to feel safe from having fracking brine laid on our roads and being treated in our treatment system today, we want to know that our children and their children will also be safe when a new and less protective administration comes to serve," said town resident Sara Schultz, who is a member of the Executive Committee of the Sierra Club Niagara Group.

"Fracking byproduct known as brine can now be spread on roads in Wyoming, Erie Cattaraugus and Seneca Counties."

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news
Most on the Amherst Town Board appear in favor of a ban on fracking in the town.

While Deputy Supervisor Guy Marlette called the town ban symbolic, he says it's an important symbol since hundreds of other communities have also banned the process.

Albany doesn't allow fracking in the state while a years-long study of the health risk of the natural gas production process continues.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.