New Jersey Could be First State to Ban FrackingJun 30, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
New Jersey is close to becoming the first state in the nation to impose a full ban on gas drilling that involves hydraulic fracturing. Both the state Assembly and the Senate approved the ban yesterday, and it awaits the governor's signature.
Republican Governor Chris Christie hasn't commented on the legislation, and is awaiting a review by the state's lawyers, according to a Bloomberg report.
Fracking involves shooting a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals into rock formations at high pressure to shake loose natural gas formations. The process is controversial because of concerns that it could pollute the water table. The technique has been blamed for methane contamination of drinking water wells. Accidents, including blowouts at natural gas wells, have also caused contamination from fracking fluid spills.
While several cities in the U.S., including Morgantown, West Virginia and Buffalo, New York, have passed ordinances banning fracking, no state has done so. In New York State, a moratorium on high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing is set to expire tomorrow. While the state's Assembly did approve an extension of that moratorium, the bill has gone nowhere in the state Senate. However, the New York moratorium will stay in place while state environmental regulators prepare a report on the environmental impacts of fracking.
There is actually no fracking taking place in New Jersey, but part of the state does sit atop the Utica shale. Drillers have been pursuing leases in other Utica shale states, and one of the sponsors of the New Jersey ban said the law would head off similar activity there.
"We want to get this in place so that New Jersey will be off-limits,” Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, a Democrat from Paramus told Bloomberg in an interview.
She pointed to fracking accidents in other states that in some instances have contaminated land and water with toxic chemicals to support her contention that regulation is not enough to protect against fracking’s environmental hazards.