On Monday the Senate Environment Committee is set to vote on a weak moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New Jersey, after the Committee already approved a bill banning the practice earlier this session.
The weaker legislation, S247 (Gordon/Beck) would enact a moratorium on fracking in New Jersey until federal EPA studies are completed. Those studies could be finalized as early as late 2014, early 2015 and environmental groups have major concerns that the results of those EPA studies will not accurately report all the dangers fracking pose to our health and environment. Some gas companies have denied the agency access to drilling sites, therefore the study will not fully investigate the likelihood of groundwater contamination.
The Sierra Club is calling on the members of the Committee to remain committed to the stronger fracking ban bill and urging them to vote no on the moratorium bill. Over 1,300 individuals have contacted Committee members in the past 24 hours urging them to reject the bill.
This bill does not protect the people of New Jersey from fracking or its toxic wastes. This bill is designed to prevent real legislation banning fracking in New Jersey that actually would protect our state now and forever from this dangerous practice. The moratorium bill is a sham to give politicians green cover instead of doing what is right for New Jersey and the region.
This moratorium bill is being proposed after the Legislature passed a ban bill in 2011 with bipartisan support. That ban bill was vetoed by Governor Christie into a one year moratorium which expired last month, leaving our state vulnerable to drilling and disposal of toxic wastes created in the drilling process. Last February the Senate Environment Committee passed the fracking ban bill again, but now they are considering the weaker legislation.
The Legislature has not acted to overridde the Governor’s veto of the fracking waste ban bill yet and now they are moving away from the fracking drilling BAN to a weak two year moratorium. We are concerned the moratorium bill is about green cover in an election year, not the best policies to protect New Jersey.
Fracking is a technique of natural gas extraction that requires taking millions of gallons of clean water from our waterways, mixing that water with an unknown cocktail of over 700 toxic chemicals, and pumping it underground to crack open deep rock formations and release natural gas.
New Jersey is home to two major shale deposits, the Utica and Newark Basin. Development of the Utica shale is already underway in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Ontario. Continued support for a fracking ban is the only way to protect our land, water, and air.
All the moratorium does is take the issue of fracking off of people’s minds while the gas companies prepare to come in once the moratorium expires. It will be much harder for us to stop it then when the drills are coming across the border.
Fracking is exempt from portions of major environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, the Superfund Law, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Right to Know. Mounting scientific evidence shows the dangers of fracking.
A recent study found 25 percent of fracking chemicals could cause cancer, 37 percent could disrupt the endocrine system (controls our hormones), and 40 to 50 percent could affect the nervous, immune, and cardiovascular system.
Banning fracking in New Jersey permanently is critical as we do not have the science or regulations in place to ensure that the practice and disposal of fracking wastes is safe and will not contaminate our drinking water and devastate the public health.
Fracking also results in dangerous greenhouse gas pollution that New Jersey should be working to reduce in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Cornell University researchers found shale gas has a greater greenhouse gas footprint than coal over a 20 year time horizon.
Drilling in shale formations and transporting that gas releases significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere. The USEPA has found that methane traps 20 times more heat in our atmosphere than carbon dioxide, significantly contributing to climate change. Natural Gas will not fight global climate change, it will make it worse.
The New Jersey Legislature has been a national leader on addressing the threats fracking present to our environment and our public health, passing the fracking ban bill with bipartisan support in 2011.
We need our legislators to maintain that leadership by overriding the Governor’s veto of the fracking waste ban bill and supporting the ban on fracking a second time. We cannot leave our state vulnerable to fracking a second time by passing a moratorium that will potentially cover less than 3 years.