STATE — Today, the one year moratorium on natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New Jersey has come to end. The temporary moratorium went into effect last year after Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed an outright ban on the controversial procedure, which involves pumping a high-pressure mix of chemicals and water into rock formations to extract natural gas or oil deposits. The governor also vetoed a separate bill that would have prevented New Jersey businesses from accepting fracking waste.
As the moratorium on fracking ends, environmental leaders are calling on the Legislature and Governor to protect New Jersey residents from the potential dangers of the procedure.
“Gov. Christie has failed to protect the people of New Jersey from the dangers of fracking,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. ”Instead of having a ban on the drilling practice, we are seeing the moratorium end today. Instead of stopping the disposal of fracking waste in New Jersey, the Governor vetoed the bill. We deserve stronger leadership on this issue and better protections in place, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which showed just how vulnerable our treatment plants and landfills are.”
“Governor Christie is exposing all of us and our drinking water to the risks of pollution that fracking brings by removing all the reasonable and essential safeguards the Legislature enacted to protect us,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. ”We call on our legislators to start to put things right by voting to override the Governor’s senseless veto of the Frack Waste Ban Bill.”
“Hurricane Sandy provides us a grim reminder of why we need to move away from extreme energy sources like fracking that are perpetuating climate change while threatening drinking water, public health, and the environment,” said Jim Walsh, Food & Water Watch. ”Christie had two opportunities to lead New Jersey away from this risky and dangerous industry, but instead he caved to pressure from the oil and gas companies, vetoing New Jersey’s fracking waste ban and New Jersey’s permanent ban on fracking. We need the legislature to move and lead where the Governor continues to fail by overriding the Governor’s veto of the fracking waste ban and then moving to ban fracking permanently in New Jersey.”
In his conditional veto of the ban bill, Christie directed the state Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the potential adverse air and water impacts of fracking but there is no final deadline for the report. Environmental groups have criticized the DEP’s fracking study due to its lack of transparency. There have been no public hearings or public involvement in the investigation. No study scope was announced. The state study is being done while the federal Environmental Protection Agency continues to examine fracking through a more public process, with their results and recommendations expected in 2014.
“This administration started with a promise of transparency and bipartisanship. On the issue of fracking this administration has failed. It failed to act in a bipartisan manner when it vetoed the fracking ban and the fracking waste ban the last year,” said Michael Pisauro of the NJ Environmental Lobby. ”It has been anything but transparent in its development of the fracking study. New Jersey deserves clean water and a healthy environment both which are put in jeopardy by the administration’s failure to act in the best interest of the state.”