Lined up out the door and on the sidewalk in the cold, more than 160 people turned out to vote on Ridgefield’s fracking waste ban.
“We’re ecstatic. We’re actually humbled this many people came out for the environment,” said Michael Garguilo, leader of the petition effort to call the meeting and vote, after the Wednesday polling at Town Hall.
“This is really for all the creatures and things that can’t speak for themselves,” he said.
The ordinance passed is a prohibition on the use or reuse of wastes from natural gas or oil extraction on property in town, disposal of it in wastewater treatment or solid waste processing facilities, as well as a ban on a long list of activities including the sale, acquisition, transfer and handling of such wastes. They are defined as including “all geologic or geophysical activities related to the exploration for or extraction of oil, including, but not limited, to, core and rotary drilling and hydraulic fracturing.”
The Town Hall meeting prior to the vote itself was pretty quick — it took longer to check everyone in than to pass two voice votes, one to close debate, and another to adopt the law, which mirrors ordinances passed by more than 50 other Connecticut towns.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi briefly explained the background of the proposed law, saying the selectmen had been working on an anti-fracking waste ordinance for most of last year.
Then citizens turned in their petitions calling for a town meeting on a draft law that had been endorsed by numerous environmental groups.
After confirming they had more than the required 369 valid signatures — 2 percent of Ridgefield’s 18,000 voters — “we had 45 days to set a town meeting,” Marconi said.
Marconi also said the “Ice Be Gone” product the town uses on the roads is largely a combination of salt and a molasses byproduct. He said the town always gets a list of all chemicals contained in all such products it uses.
Garguilo spoke briefly, as leader of the petition effort to pass the law “on behalf of the town ecosystem.”
He thanked the Board of Selectmen and other town officials for their cooperation.
Resident Ed Tyrrell argued that more discussion was needed on the issue.
He used to the comments period at the start of the Board of Selectmen’s meeting to read a statement into the record.
“Fracking produces American-made oil,” Tyrrell said. “It is taken from the ground by highly paid, middle-class Americans who pay taxes and want to send their kids to college just as we do.”
“It would be great if we did not use so much oil, but we will for years to come,” he said. “I want us to use as much American-made oil as possible so we do not have to buy it from Middle East terrorist states ...”