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NJ First In U.S. To Ban Hydrofracking

Posted on Friday, 1 of July , 2011 at 2:31 pm

TRENTON, NJ—In an unprecedented and pioneering move, New Jersey’s state legislature became the first in the nation to pass a bill to enforce a statewide ban on a controversial gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. The bill passed the Senate 32-1 and the Assembly 58-11.

“Today, New Jersey sent a strong message to surrounding states and to the nation that a ban on fracking is necessary to protect public health and preserve our natural resources,” said. Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Bergen).  “Any benefits of gas production simply do not justify the many potential dangers associated with fracking such as pollution of our lakes, streams and drinking water supplies and the release of airborne pollutants. We should not wait until our natural resources are threatened or destroyed to act. The time to ban fracking in New Jersey is now.”

Fracking involves injecting water, toxic chemicals and sand deep underground to break up dense rock formations and release natural gas. Opponents of fracking cite the high potential for water and air pollution as a leading reason to ban the practice.  The Delaware River provides drinking water to approximately 3 million people in New Jersey and this supply could be contaminated if fracking moves forward in the Delaware River Basin.  Over 200,000 acres of land in the Upper Delaware River Watershed in Pennsylvania and New York are already under lease for gas drilling.

“Fracking is a man-made disruption to the environment, many times on large-scale proportions,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen).  “We’ve already seen a number of eco-casualties from this practice in surrounding states.  It would be irresponsible to leave the door open for this practice to be pursued in New Jersey.”

Public opposition to fracking has escalated in recent months, with concerned residents and environmental and consumer advocacy groups campaigning against the practice in New Jersey and the surrounding states, where a gas drilling frenzy has taken hold or is ramping up to begin in the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation which extends up the East Coast. Pennsylvania alone is producing a glut of millions of gallons of fracking wastewater that is being shipped out of state. Gas drilling there is resulting in more than 11 violations of environmental permits per day at well sites, according to PADEP records, causing growing pollution and health problems.

“The New Jersey Legislature is taking the pro-active step of preventing contamination of our drinking water and environment, the only sure way to protect our residents from fracking pollution. This is a great day for the State’s present and future generations,” said Tracey Carluccio, deputy director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

New Jersey contains gas bearing shale formations, notably the Utica Shale in northern New Jersey, that could be targeted by energy companies in the new “gas rush”, threatening the State’s drinking water and resident’s health.

In Texas and western states, where fracking has been used for some time, air and water pollution are leading to degraded environmental conditions and reported health problems from residents – concerns which led those living in Dish, Texas, a town located near 11 natural gas compression stations, to hire a private environmental consultant to sample the air. The consultant found that it contained high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens, including benzene.

A 2011 Cornell University study found that the process of fracking also releases methane, which according to the EPA, is 21 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Similarly, a study released by researchers at Duke University in April found methane levels in drinking water wells near active gas drilling sites at a level 17 times higher than those near inactive ones.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House and Energy Commerce Committee determined that 14 oil companies had injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and other substances into U.S. wells between 2005 and 2009. This included 10.2 million gallons of fluids containing known or suspected carcinogens. The companies, however, are not required to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid, which they claim should be protected as a “trade secret”. They are also exempt from portions of seven major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act.

Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange who tested fracking fluids found that 25 percent can cause cancer; 37 percent can disrupt the endocrine system; and 40 to 50 percent can affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems.

“New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s signature is all that is necessary now for this critical and timely statewide ban to go into effect,” said Jim Walsh, New Jersey direcotr of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch.  

“If he approves it, New Jersey will be the first state to stand up against the devastating environmental and public health impacts of fracking, which have wreaked havoc on other states across the U.S.”

Earlier this month Food & Water Watch released a report entitled The Case for a Ban on Fracking. The report reveals how the natural gas industry’s use of water-intensive, toxic, unregulated practices for natural gas extraction are compromising public health and polluting water resources across the country.  7-1-11

Link to article: http://www.northcountrygazette.org/2011/07/01/nj_first/

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