Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature

Brooks Stonewalling Request for Hydrofracking Info

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Rochester, New York – July 25, 2012.  Monroe County Legislator Justin F. Wilcox (D-Brighton) is appealing a denied freedom of information request regarding the county’s hydrofracking wastewater treatment policies, a request made after more than three months of stonewalling by administration officials.

“The treatment of fracking wastewater raises serious public health and safety issues,” said Wilcox. “Niagara Falls and other communities have banned the practice because of these concerns, and the residents of Monroe County have a right to know what is being done here. The administration’s silence and refusal to answer simple questions on something this important is inexcusable.”

On March 16 of this year, Legislator Wilcox sent a letter asking the Brooks Administration for information on hydrofracking. Specifically, he asked what the county’s current policy is regarding the acceptance of hydrofracking wastewater and whether the county’s existing treatment facilities are capable of processing such wastewater.  During the April 24 meeting of the Legislature’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Legislator Wilcox, who serves as Ranking Minority Member of that Committee, reiterated his March 16 request. On April 25, a follow up email was sent to the administration, at which time they said they hoped to provide the information “by the end of the week.” Having received no response, the March 16 request was reiterated on May 8 and May 23. None of these requests received any response.

Having been stonewalled for months, Legislator Wilcox was forced to submit a request under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requesting the information on June 14. Over a month later, on July 16, the FOIL request was denied because, the Brooks Administration claimed, the records are “inter-agency or intra-agency material” which is exempt from disclosure. Earlier this morning, Legislator Wilcox appealed the FOIL denial. The Administration has ten days to respond to the appeal.

“Given the potential impact to the public of this issue, it is appalling that we—as County Legislators responsible for overseeing County Government—have been denied access to all records and information regarding the acceptance of hydrofracking wastewater. The Brooks Administration needs to stop stonewalling and provide legislators and the public with the information we are entitled to,” Legislator Wilcox added.