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News briefs

May 4, 2011

Earth Day package passes in NY

ALBANY, NY — New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney announced the passage of a legislative package to honor Earth Day.

The assembly's Earth Day package includes two bills that would help safeguard New York's wetlands. Those bills would provide the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with authority over wetlands that are one acre or more (A.3374) and require violators to repair damaged areas adjacent to wetlands (A.5638).

Two other measures would improve recycling policies and procedures by establishing clearer requirements concerning the disposal of recyclable materials (A.1241) and encourage using recycled materials when making "packing peanuts" (A.6145).
The package also includes bills that help ensure New York has clean and safe water by authorizing the department of health to promulgate rules and regulations to establish standards for the testing of drinking water from privately owned wells (A.667) and requiring permits for large water withdrawals (A.5318-A).

It does not address hydrofracking.

State of Maryland sues Chesapeake for Bradford blowback

BALTIMORE, MD — Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the state’s intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).

On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. The accident occurred in Bradford County, PA on April 19. Essential components of the Atgas 2H well failed while it was being fracked, causing tens of thousands of gallons of fracking fluids to be released.

The state intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The state also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA's prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.

Krancer confirmed as DEP secretary