Fracking ordinance heads to voters March 21

Despite drawing some vocal skepticism, a proposed town ordinance regulating waste from fracking — the hydraulic fracturing process used to extract oil and gas from the ground — is headed to Ridgefield voters later this month.

“Has this happened anywhere in town?” asked Scott DeYoung.

A chemical engineer, DeYoung was dubious when the selectmen scheduled a March 21 public hearing and town meeting on the proposed ordinance would prohibit the reuse, disposal, storage and transportation of fracking wastes in town.

The proposed anti-fracking ordinance was based on a draft presented to the selectmen by Kristin Quell-Garguilo of the Ridgefield Action Committee for the Environment (RACE) and reviewed by town attorney David Grogins.

While there’s some chance fracking wastes might contained in a product used in town — a de-icer, perhaps — the concern Quell-Garguilo raised with the selectmen was a possible spill from a truck passing through. It might not prevent an accident, she said, but the law could help the town recover clean-up costs.

When the proposal initially came up in January, First Selectman Rudy Marconi said there was a hope the legislature would renew a statewide fracking prohibition, but that hadn’t happened yet. A town regulation would represent a “belt and suspenders” approach.

DeYoung was critical when the selectmen discussed the proposal Feb. 21.

“There should be some kind of objective technical measurement of the stuff you’re trying or regulate,” he said.

Even the truck spill scenario left him unconvinced.

“Does the state allow the Town of Ridgefield to regulate state highways?” he asked.

“Anything that’s going to happen is some truck rolling through on a state highway. I can’t see Ridgefield regulating a state highway.”

Why would “little Ridgefield” regulate an activity “that’s happening 100 miles from here” — but nowhere in town?

“It seem ridiculous to me,” DeYoung said.

Marconi suggested he raise his points at the public hearing and town meeting.