Sunday, April 01, 2012

Bills Would Ban Hydrofracking Waste at Nassau County Sewage Treatment Plants

The Nassau County Legislature will soon consider two bills that would ban hydrofracking waste at the county's four sewage treatment plants. Waste from hydrofracking is notoriously toxic and difficult to treat. In September 2011, a report issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation identified as potential treatment sites county-owned facilities at Glen Cove on the north shore and Bay Park, Cedar Creek, and Inwood on the south shore.

Representatives of the Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations and others recently appeared before the county legislature to comment on the challenges involved in treating hydrofracking waste and the negative impact that the practice could have on Long Island Sound and south shore bays.

According to a press release issued by Legislator Denise Ford, a bill, sponsored by a Republican group that includes Legislator Ford, along with legislators Howard Kopel and Dennis Dunne, is in preparation.

The other bill, sponsored by Democrats Dave Denenberg and Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, along with legislators Kevan Abrahams, Judi Bosworth, Judy Jacobs, Joseph Scannell, CarriƩ Solages, Robert Troiano, and Wayne Wink, has been introduced, according to a press release issued by Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton.

Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton (LD 18) and Legislator Wink (LD 11) represent the Glen Cove / Glen Head / Glenwood Landing area.

County Executive Plans Privatization of Sewage Treatment Plants

In a related matter, County Executive Ed Mangano (R) has proposed selling or leasing the county's sewage treatment plants. The $1.3 billion deal would help balance the 2012 and 2013 budgets. The one-time budget fix is included in the 2012 budget and was approved by the legislature's Republican majority in October 2011. In December, the legislature's Rules Committee voted along party lines to contract with Morgan Stanley at a cost of $100,000 per quarter to assist the county in finding a buyer/operator. Morgan Stanley will receive an additional fee of not less than $5 million for any deal  that is made.

The Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations believes privatization is a one-time, short-sighted budget fix that has been pursued with little opportunity for public input.  According to the coalition, "For investing in the plants, a private company will expect to reap huge profits from our tax dollars. It’s been proven time and time again, locally and all over the country, that once  a profit-driven private entity takes over a revenue-neutral municipal service, fees skyrocket, and our environment and every resident suffers." The result is a back-door means of increasing taxes that simultaneously removes government and its elected officials from accountability—effects that often last for decades, even generations.

The Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations has prepared a petition aimed at stopping the sale or lease of Nassau County sewage treatment facilities.

The coalition was recently formed to share information about matters such as privatization of the sewage treatment plants. The Civic Council of Glen Head and Glenwood Landing is in touch with the coalition and has been participating in discussions. The civic council is made up of the civic associations in Glen Head and Glenwood Landing.

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