[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Buffalo 2-8-2011, effective 2-8-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The Common Council of the City of Buffalo finds, declares and determines that:
The exploration for natural gas, the extraction of natural gas and the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes in the urban environment of Buffalo poses a significant threat to its residents' health, safety, and welfare;
Widespread environmental and human health impacts have resulted from natural gas exploration and extraction in other areas;
If natural gas exploration or extraction or the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes were to occur within the City, this activity would endanger the health, safety and welfare of City residents through the deposit of toxins into the air, soil, water, environment, and the bodies of residents within the City;
The protection of residents, neighborhoods, and the natural environment constitutes the highest and best use of the police and land use powers that the City possesses.
This chapter is enacted to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of present and future residents of the City. This chapter is an exercise of the City's police power, its power to prohibit public nuisance and a land use regulation designed to protect the health, safety and welfare of the current and future residents of the City from adverse effects and impacts that would result if natural gas exploration and extraction and/or the storage, transfer, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes were allowed within the City.
This chapter is promulgated pursuant to the authority set forth in Article 9, § 1, of the New York State Constitution and § 10 of the New York State Municipal Home Rule Law.
This chapter supports the policies of the State of New York:
"To conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environment and to prevent, abate, and control water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being (ECL1-0101); and
Editor's Note: See Environmental Conservation Law § 1-0101.
"To reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous substances and the generation of such substances, pollution or waste at the source in order to conserve, improve and protect New York's environment and natural resources; enhance the health, safety and welfare of its citizens . . ."
This chapter is an exercise of the City of Buffalo's prohibition on any activity "involving the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous wastes which cause substantial harm or a risk of substantial harm to the public health and safety or to the environment . . ." (Buffalo City Code § 235-2).
This chapter is not directed at the regulatory scheme for the operation of natural gas wells under the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law of New York State. This chapter addresses land use and nuisance concerns and the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the people of the City of Buffalo and the enhancement of its physical environment.
Editor's Note: See Environmental Conservation Law § 23-0101 et seq.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- For purposes of this chapter, shall include any corporation, limited partnership, limited-liability partnership, business trust, or limited-liability company organized under the laws of any state of the United States or under the laws of any country, and any other business entity that possesses state-conferred limited-liability status or protections for its owners, directors, officers, and/or managers.
- Geologic or geophysical activities related to the search for natural gas or other subsurface hydrocarbons, including prospecting, geophysical and geologic seismic surveying and sampling techniques, which include but are not limited to core or rotary drilling or making an excavation in the search and evaluation of natural gas deposits.
- The digging or drilling of a well for the purposes of exploring for, developing or producing natural gas or other hydrocarbons.
- NATURAL GAS
- Any gaseous substance, either combustible or noncombustible, which is produced in a natural state from the earth and which maintains a gaseous or rarified state at standard temperature or pressure conditions, and/or gaseous components or vapors occurring in or derived from petroleum or other hydrocarbons.
- NATURAL GAS EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION WASTES
- Any garbage, refuse, sludge, or other discarded materials, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous material that results from the exploration, drilling or extraction of natural gas.
- The contamination or other degradation of the physical, chemical or biological properties of land, water or air that will or is likely to create a nuisance or render such land, water or air harmful, detrimental or injurious to the public health, safety or welfare, or harmful, detrimental or injurious to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational or other beneficial uses, or to wildlife, birds, fish, or other aquatic life.
No person, firm or corporation shall conduct any exploration for natural gas; drill any well for natural gas; transfer, store, treat, or dispose of natural gas exploration or production wastes; or erect any derrick, building, or other structure or place any machinery or equipment for such purpose within the territorial boundaries of the City of Buffalo.
The storage, transfer, treatment and/or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes are hazardous wastes within the meaning of this Code. No person, firm or corporation shall engage in the storage, transfer, treatment and/or disposal of natural gas exploration and production wastes within the territorial boundaries of the City of Buffalo. No permit issued by any state or federal agency, commission or board to any person, firm or corporation, which would violate the prohibitions of this chapter, shall be deemed valid within the City of Buffalo.
Any person, corporation, or other entity that violates any prohibition of this chapter shall be guilty of a summary offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to the maximum fine allowable under this Charter and Code for said violation. A separate offense shall arise for each day or portion thereof in which a violation occurs and for each section of this chapter found to be violated.
The City of Buffalo may also enforce this chapter through an action in equity brought in New York State Supreme Court. In such an action, the City of Buffalo shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney's fees.
Any City resident shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this chapter through an action brought in New York State Supreme Court. In such an action, a resident who enjoins a violator of this chapter from a continuing violation of this chapter shall be entitled to recover all costs of litigation, including, without limitation, expert and attorney's fees from the violator.
This chapter shall be effective five days after the date of its enactment, at which point the chapter shall apply to any and all extractions of natural gas in the City of Buffalo regardless of the date of any applicable DEC permits.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If any court of competent jurisdiction decides that any section, clause, sentence, part, or provision of this chapter is illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair, or invalidate any of the remaining sections, clauses, sentences, parts, or provisions of the chapter.
This chapter shall repeal any prior inconsistent ordinances contained in the Buffalo City Code purporting to regulate or allow natural gas extraction or the transport, storage, treatment or disposal of natural gas exploration or extraction waste.