TRENTON— State legislators joined with Food & Water Watch, NJ Sierra Club and Delaware Riverkeeper Network to call for immediate passage of legislation to ban natural gas hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey.
“The report released today by Food and Water Watch underlines the serious health and safety concerns surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking,” said state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Bergen), who was joined by state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer) and Asw. Connie Wagner (D-Bergen). “Whether it’s the toxic mix of known and unknown chemicals used in the fracking process, the loss of billions of gallons of fresh drinking water, or the toxic waste water produced throughout the fracking process, any one of these potential dangers outweighs any benefits of increased gas production.”
Fracking involves injecting water, sand and toxic chemicals deep underground to break up dense rock formations and release natural gas. The process can pollute water supplies when fracking chemicals can leak into underground wells or when accidents spill the fluids into rivers or streams.
Public opposition to fracking has escalated in recent months. According to Food & Water at least 55 localities across the U.S. have passed measures against fracking. Earlier this year, Highland Park became the first town in the country to call for a state and national ban on fracking.
“Following a recommendation from our local Board of Heath, Highland Park’s council unanimously voted to support a ban on fracking. The risks are just too high,” said Jon Erickson, a councilman from Highland Park.
This backlash against fracking is reinforced by a report also released today by Food & Water Watch that highlights why natural gas drilling poses unacceptable risks to the American public. The Case for a Ban on Fracking shows how the natural gas industry’s use of water-intensive, toxic, unregulated practices for natural gas extraction are compromising public health and polluting water resources necessary for human health and sanitation, businesses and agriculture.
“What we know and don’t know about fracking is enough reason to ban it,” said Jim Walsh, NJ Director of Food & Water Watch. “We are talking about our drinking water and a whole lot more,” added Walsh.
Opponents of fracking cite the high potential for water and air pollution as a leading reason to ban the practice. Over 1,000 cases of water contamination have been reported near fracking sites. A study released by researchers at Duke University in April found methane levels in shallow drinking water wells near active gas drilling sites at a level 17 times higher than those near inactive ones. Similarly, a 2011 Cornell University study found that the process of fracking releases methane, which according to the EPA, is 21 times more damaging greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
“The first rule in public health and safety is do no harm and right now there is no fracking way that it is safe and a ban should be in place. Until we get rid of the Halliburton Loophole that exempts fracking from seven major federal environmental laws, including Superfund and the Clean Water Act, until all the different studies are done that independently analyze the impacts of fracking, we should not allow fracking to go forward. It is too risky to our environment and water supplies. We believe the practice is too unproven and too dangerous and a ban should be in place until it is proven otherwise and actual strong regulations are in place,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.
In 2011, the U.S. House and Energy Commerce Committee found that between 2005 and 2009, 14 oil companies injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and other substances into U.S. wells. This included 10.2 million gallons of fluids containing known or suspected carcinogens. Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange found that 25 percent of fracking fluids can cause cancer; 37 percent can disrupt the endocrine system; and 40 to 50 percent can affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems.
Fracking operations in Pennsylvania alone are expected to create 19 million gallons of wastewater, which can contain radioactive elements, and cannot be effectively treated by municipal wastewater plants.
“Everywhere gas drilling is occurring, communities are suffering. Across neighboring Pennsylvania accidents, pollution incidents, violations of permits are occurring at an increasing rate as the pace of drilling picks up and drillers are allowed to get away with it. This drilling juggernaut must be stopped for the sake of clean water and future generations”, said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network
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