Bill to Ban Fracking Released

By State House Bureau Chief Briana Vannozzi

It’s called “fracking.” And a bill that would ban it from happening in New Jersey was released today from the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.

It’s the second time at bat for Democratic Senator Bob Gordon who sponsored similar legislation last year. It would prohibit the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and, if enacted, would be the first complete statewide ban in the nation. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the measure in August and instead called for a one-year moratorium.

“We cannot sacrifice the water supply of countless families,” said Gordon. “We cannot allow fracking spoils to pollute our waterways. We must stand up and say some things we are simply not putting at risk.”

Hydraulic fracturing is a method where highly pressurized fluid is used to break up shale rock formations underground to release natural gas and other fossil fuels. Opponents say it can have harmful effects including polluting air and drinking water. An unexplored Utica Shale depository runs under parts of Warren and Sussex counties in the state, an area being eyed for drilling.

The governor responded to the bill’s passage at a press conference this afternoon.

“This is why people hate government…there’s no shale in New Jersey. They want to ban fracking in a state that has no shale.” He went on to say Democrats are grappling for anything to give their party an edge and used their push to legalize same-sex marriage as an example, “They want to make same-sex marriage a priority in a state where people strongly favor same-sex marriage and ban fracking in a state where no one wants to frack.”

He argued that jobs and property taxes are the real priorities on the minds of New Jerseyans, but that Democrats won’t face the real issues.

Environmental groups dispute Gov. Christie’s claim that shale does not exist in the state and say drilling here would be a boon for industry and a bust for the people.

The legislation now moves on to the full Senate.