Legislature Approves Fracking Byproduct Ban

Lawmakers in New Jersey approved a bill banning hydraulic fracturing — otherwise known as fracking — byproducts created in other states from entering the Garden State.

The Senate passed the bill, 30-5, on Monday. The Assembly approved the bill, 56-19, last week. It now heads to Gov. Chris Christie's desk.

Some lawmakers and environmentalists argued that public health and natural resources would be at risk of fracking waste from other states, such as Pennsylvania, entered New Jersey. Fracking involves blasting chemically-treated water underground so natural gas bubbles up to the surface where it can be captured. It's the chemicals in the water that has generated concern and opposition, as WNYC reported last April:

Fracking fluids are mostly water — at least 98 percent — but the non-water portion is the cause of a great deal of worry and controversy. Dr. Theo Colborn, a former advisor to the EPA has compiled an extensive list of chemicals used in fracking from publicly available sources, including methanol, naphthalene, petroleum and hydrochloric acid. She found nearly half to be endocrine disruptors, substances that interfere with the body’s hormonal balance. There were also carcinogens and chemicals damaging to the nervous system.

Some fracking waste has already entered N.J. from Pennsylvania, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection website.

Petroleum Council Director Jim Benton, however, argued that fracking is covered under existing New Jersey state regulations. He believes fracking has brought down the cost of energy and provided economic benefits.

Last year, Gov. Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned fracking in the state. He did, however, order a one-year moratorium on the practice, saying he had concerns about the potential dangers to drinking water.

At the time, Christie said that several studies were underway about the controversial practice and he did not see the need for a full ban:

"I believe it would be premature and ill-advised to impose a permanent ban while the [U.S. Department of Energy] and [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] are studying the issue, and without the benefit of the view of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection," Christie wrote in a letter addressed to the Senate.

"I believe that the better approach to the issue is to impose a one-year moratorium," Christie continued, noting that New Jersey has the nation's fourth-highest energy costs and might benefit from the harvesting of local gas resources.


With the Associated Press