Fracking ban, solid waste bills scheduled for Massachusetts Senate debate


BOSTON >> Two recycling bills and legislation calling for a 10-year ban on hydraulic fracturing in Massachusetts are on tap for Senate consideration next week.

The Senate on Thursday adopted orders scheduling four bills for its June 9 session, including legislation addressing municipal solid waste reduction (S 454); recycling programs at state facilities (S 1653); a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking (S 457); and a zoning law overhaul aimed at boosting housing production. (S 2144).

The fracking moratorium would run from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2026, and would ban hydraulic fracturing — the pumping of fluid into the ground to extract oil or gas from the resulting fractures — and the collecting, storage, treatment or disposal of hydraulic fracturing fluid waste byproducts in Massachusetts, according to a bill summary. The fluid would be categorized as a pollutant, and the Division of Water Pollution Control would be given the authority to enforce the moratorium.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Marc Pacheco, comes after other attempts to ban fracking in Massachusetts have failed.

Last legislative session, a 10-year fracking moratorium was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee in November 2013 but never brought to the floor for a vote. In February 2014, the Senate used a voice vote to reject a Sen. Kathleen O'Connor Ives amendment that would have added a fracking ban to a water infrastructure bill.

Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, is also the sponsor of the recycling and municipal solid waste reduction bill the Senate plans to take up next week.

The bill calls on the Department of Environmental Protection to establish performance standards for municipal solid waste reduction and requires the reduction of solid waste to no more than 600 pounds per capita by July 2018 and no more than 450 pounds per capita by July 2022.

Under Sen. Anne Gobi's public space recycling bill, all state facilities with more than 50 employees would be required to implement recycling programs for a selected list of materials — including lead batteries, metal and glass containers, single-polymer plastics, paper, yard waste, tires, fluorescent lamps, cathode ray tubes and construction material — and file annual reports on the amount of waste generated and recycled.

Senators have until 5 p.m. Monday to file amendments on each bill.

The Senate met twice this week in brief informal sessions. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said on Boston Herald Radio Thursday that no formal sessions were scheduled so that senators would have time to spend in their districts after three consecutive days of budget debate on Beacon Hill last week.


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