Measure Would Enact Nation’s First Statewide Prohibition
TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Linda Greenstein to prohibit the practice of hydraulic fracturing – commonly called “fracking” – in New Jersey was today released from the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.
If enacted, it would represent the first complete statewide ban of fracking in the nation.
“The environmental dangers posed by fracking are real, and the risks it could pose to New Jersey residents are abundantly clear,” said Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We cannot sacrifice the water supply of countless families. We cannot allow fracking spoils to pollute our waterways. We must stand up and say some things we are simply not putting at risk.”
Gordon sponsored similar legislation last session to ban fracking given the myriad concerns over the practice’s potential for polluting the air and groundwater. That measure was vetoed by the governor, who instead implemented a one-year moratorium on the practice, a move Gordon called a meaningless gesture given that it would take at least a year for any proposed well to become operational.
The lawmakers noted that recent geological research has indicated the potential for massive natural gas deposits in beds of Utica shale – a ridge of which lies beneath Sussex and Warren counties. Last fall, Hess Corporation announced more than $750 million worth of land purchases and leases and Ohio to explore that state’s Utica shale beds.
“The potential dangers of fracking are not limited just to the area where drilling takes place, but can have impacts that can be felt for miles,” said Greenstein (D-Middlesex/Mercer). “A spill of fracking spoils in the farthest northern corner of our state can have disastrous impacts on South Jersey’s environment. The dangers are not worth the risks.”
Last November, the Delaware River Basin Commission cancelled a planned vote that would have allowed the controversial practice to take place along the northern edge of the watershed following an outpouring of citizen concern and the announcement by Delaware’s governor that he would vote against the proposal.
“It took decades for the Delaware River to recover from the damage done by years of unchecked industrial pollution, and it took guts by the Legislature to protect the Highlands and our drinking water supply,” said Gordon. “It would be crazy to undo that progress by allowing fracking, and letting chemical-polluted streams and storm runoff flow throughout our watersheds.”
The bill is also sponsored by Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset/Hunterdon/Mercer).
The legislation now moves to the full Senate.