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Energy

Maziarz: Fracking, treating waste fluid could lead to "economic boom"

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Daniel Robison
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WNED
Senator George Maziarz speaks at a conference hosted by the Independent Oil & Gas Association.

“It’s been proven it can be done in a safe way,” says George Maziarz, vice president of the New York State Senate.

The “it” in this instance? Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Currently a moratorium prohibits New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from issuing permits for horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

“I think the DEC has to come up with that safe way and get a permit process out there for the industry. Let’s do it,” Maziarz says.

After the executive order banning the practice expires in July and the DEC finishes a study of fracking (technically a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, or SGEIS), Maziarz says the state will likely find a way to cautiously invite the oil and gas industry to set up shop.

“I think we can learn from the mistakes in Pennsylvania,” Maziarz says. “I think we can drill.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo is still staking out his position on the matter, and instead focusing on the budget and deficit during his first months in office. But New York governors “tend to get what they want,” Maziarz says, meaning Cuomo’s decision will be significant to where the issue ultimately ends up.

Maziarz, who is part of a slim Republican majority in the Senate, delivered his remarks at conference hosted by the Independent Oil & Gas Association in Blasdell last week.

Geologist: Fracking is “safe”

At the same venue, New York State Museum Geologist Taury Smith also voiced support for horizontal fracking.

The state would be wise to create a system granting access to oil and gas drillers, according to Smith. He says the controversial practice has gotten a bad rap in the media. 

“I think if I was a citizen of New York that read the paper and didn’t have much knowledge of these issues I would be very worried about hydraulic fracturing, the way it’s been portrayed,” said Smith. “As it turns out hydraulic fracturing itself appears to be safe.”

Treatment of fluids could be WNY cottage industry

And the economic benefits, according to Maziarz, could extend just beyond a cheap supply of natural gas. The Buffalo-Niagara region could see an economic “boom” through the creation of an industry to purify toxic fracking fluid, he says.

Two local water treatment plants (North Tonawanda and Niagara Falls) are equipped to properly cleanse the millions of gallons of liquid used in fracking (consisting of 500-plus chemicals), Maziarz says.

Last month, the Buffalo Common Council banned the fluid’s treatment by the city’s local sewer authority after revelations surfaced that the practice had been going on for years

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