TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have banned a controversial procedure to drill for natural gas, earning the ire of environmentalists.
In June, both the state Senate and General Assembly passed a bill that would permanently ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a drilling technique that involves injecting water, sand and toxic chemicals deep underground to break up dense rock formations and release natural gas. The process could pollute water supplies if chemicals leaked into underground wells or if accidents spilled the fluids into rivers or streams.
Christie elected to conditionally veto the bill, instead calling for a one-year moratorium on the procedure to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to further evaluate its risks.
“I share many of the concerns expressed by the legislators that sponsored this bill and the environmental advocates seeking a permanent moratorium on fracking. We must ensure that our environment is protected and our drinking water is safe,” said Christie. “The potential environmental concerns with fracking in our state must be studied and weighed carefully against the potential benefits of increasing access to natural gas in New Jersey.”
“It is not a moratorium because when the gas companies are ready to come here to drill the moratorium will not be in effect. The Governor is just playing politics with New Jersey’s water supply. This is just a PR gimmick while he is taking the side of gas industry and gas lobby over public health and safety of the people of New Jersey,” said Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club.
The Senate voted 33-1 in favor of the permanent ban; the Assembly passed it by a vote of 58-11. It is unclear if lawmakers will try to overturn the governor’s conditional veto.
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