Some say that fracking is an environmental disaster and Congressman Rush Holt is calling on the Delaware River Basin Committee to continue the moratorium on the practice, not allowing it at this time. Holt told NTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he is calling for the moratorium for fracking to continue because many people in New Jersey are dependent on the Delaware River for their drinking water and what happens upstream affects it.
“In Pennsylvania there has been a land rush for fracking, that is hydrological fracturing. You drill down a mile into the ground, pump millions of gallons of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals into the ground at very high pressures. You fracture the shale and the natural gas seeps out of that and then comes out just as it would in a normal gas well. All of the water picks up a lot of contaminants deep in the ground, radioactivity and other things, that spews out. It is usually contained, it usually doesn’t get into the streams, it usually does not get into drinking water, but there are examples where it has,” said Holt.
He said that a moratorium is needed simply because the frenzy to drill has gotten way ahead of the science and regulations.
“Local drinking water supplies have been endangered. It all depends on the procedures that are followed, the quality of the materials that are used, the quality of the workmanship. If you put casing around a well and the casing is not sealed tight, then anything that goes up or down that shaft can seep out sideways into the well water. If, when it comes blowing out the top of the well and it is not contained, it can get into drinking water and that is what the Delaware River Basin Commission is concerned about,” said Holt.
Holt said that there have been a few studies of streams, and he knows of at least one example of water-bearing radioactive material that has gotten into surface water. He said that the tributaries of the Delaware River are probably diluted a great deal, so it is probably not a health hazard, but drinking water is precious and it is something that should be treated very carefully.
There are some even deeper geological formations under New Jersey that Holt said he was told might be suitable for getting gas through hydrological fracturing but nobody is trying that yet. He said that New Jersey would benefit by getting laws on the books to prevent the kind of frenzy that has been seen in Pennsylvania.
As for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), Holt said, “The way we produce and use energy is the greatest insult to our planet. Climate change is real. We are harming our very climate in ways that are deadly and that is not an exaggeration. For Gov. Chris Christie to exempt New Jersey from this previously agreed Greenhouse Gas Initiative in our region, I think is irresponsible. We really should be doing everything we can to bring greenhouse gases under control.”
Holt said that it is not known how much methane is released accidentally during fracking and methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. He said that when a lot of methane is released from the fracked wells, it is doing more harm to the environment, changing the climate and undoing any advantage that New Jersey might have had by using the lower carbon natural gas instead of coal.
“These two subjects tie together. Although the Greenhouse Gas Initiative does not really deal with fracking, I do want to make the point that both of these connect with preserving our global climate because the way it is changing is not just glaciers melting from the part formerly know as Glacier National Park, it is really changing the way diseases spread around the world and in New Jersey, the way crops can be grown, the way famine strikes, the way super storms, hurricanes or droughts hit. All of this is tied up in the climate change and we should be doing everything we can to reduce the effect,” said Holt.