TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen) that would prevent the practice of hydraulic fracturing from happening in New Jersey was cleared out of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today. If passed into law, it would represent the first ban of its kind in the nation.
“The environmental dangers of this procedure and the risks they would pose to New Jersey residents are abundantly clear. In fact, I believe it poses the greatest risk we have seen to our drinking water in our lifetime. This is something we simply cannot allow to come to our state,” said Gordon.
The bill, S-2576, would prohibit hydraulic fracturing (“hydrofracking”) in New Jersey for the purpose of natural gas exploration or production. Hydraulic fracturing is the drilling technique of expanding existing fractures or creating new fractures in rock by injecting water with chemicals, sand, or other substances, and under pressure, into or underneath the surface of the rock for purposes including such things as well drilling and natural gas exploration and production.
Recently, drilling connected with natural gas exploration along the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania caused concern and a moratorium on such drilling in Pennsylvania and New York. The Marcellus Shale formation reaches beneath the southern tier of New York State, into Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and touches the edge of northwestern New Jersey. Any drilling in the region could have a devastating impact on New Jersey’s drinking water.
While hydraulic fracturing has not occurred yet in New Jersey, the dangers of the practice have been recognized. On June 5, 2010, hydraulic fracturing in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania caused an explosion and the release of many gallons of contaminated water and uncontrolled natural gas from the drill site.
“By passing this legislation we can prevent this hazardous process from happening in New Jersey before it ever gets started. Moreover, we can set the environmental protection example for all other states in the country,” said Gordon.
The legislation now moves to the full Senate.