STATE — The Sierra Club joined other environmental and community groups across the state in a Day of Action on Thursday to urge Gov. Chris Christie to sign legislation banning the use of the controversial natural gas drilling technique hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
The bill was passed by the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support in June. Christie’s signature would make New Jersey the first state in the nation to ban the drilling practice. The Sierra Club, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food and Water Watch, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, and their members worked together to flood the governor’s office with letters and calls supporting the fracking ban bill.
“Governor Christie needs to protect the drinking water of New Jersey and sign the fracking ban bill. If he vetoes this ban bill he will take the side of big oil and gas companies over the environment and the public health of the people of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “The environmental community has come together to urge the Governor to sign the ban bill to promote clean energy and green jobs and abandon fossil foolish energy policies.”
Portions of the Utica Shale formation underlie portions of New Jersey and natural gas extraction from this deposit is already underway in Canada and Ohio. New Jersey’s portion of the shale could be targeted for development as drilling areas on the East Coast expanded and more drilling infrastructure is cited in New Jersey and neighboring states, such as compressor stations and pipelines for transportation and distribution. There are currently five gas pipeline expansion projects being proposed in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s water supply will be impacted by fracking as the Delaware River Basin Commission considers adopting natural gas development regulations for the Basin as early as its September meeting. Approximately three million state residents get their drinking water from the watershed and will be impacted if the moratorium on gas drilling in the basin is lifted by the adoption of rules.
New Jersey’s representative on the DRBC has stated that New Jersey’s funding to the DRBC would only be provided if the agency adopted natural gas development regulations in September. This is especially alarming to environmentalists as over 70,000 comments have been submitted on the rules and environmental groups including the Sierra Club have opposed the rules for lacking standards for water withdrawals and disposal of fracking wastewaters.
“By passing the ban bill with an overwhelming majority, the Legislature sent a clear message to the Governor and other states that fracking is too dangerous and must not move forward at this time,” said Tittel. “The Governor must stand with the people of New Jersey and sign this landmark legislation into law to protect our water, our health, and our clean energy future.”
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