TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie signed many bills and vetoed two others last Friday. But one of the most controversial that was passed by the Legislature last session and that still remains to be addressed is a ban on “fracking” as a means to access natural gas deposits.
The legislation to prohibit the procedure of hydraulic fracturing – known as “fracking” for short – was approved in June.
The bill, A3653, is sponsored by several lawmakers, including Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, (D-38), Paramus. It passed the Assembly on June 28 by a 58-11 vote, with eight abstentions, and by the Senate, 32-1. The deadline for dealing with the bill is this week.
“Fracking” involves drilling through rocks to unearth natural gas. One of the areas being eyed for natural gas exploration is the Marcellus Shale, which is made up of several regions in New York, Pennsylvania and parts of Northwest New Jersey.
The procedure – using chemicals to break the rock – has prompted controversy.
A resolution in opposition to fracking stated that earlier this year, drilling connected with natural gas exploration along the Marcellus Shale formation in Clearfield County, Pa., caused an explosion, contaminating several thousands of gallons of water and releasing natural gas.
Wagner, in a telephone interview today, said the governor will need to make a decision by Thursday.
While she has not heard anything directly from the administration, she said her instincts tell her the governor will either sign it or issue a conditional veto, but not an outright veto.
“I know we need jobs and have energy needs,” she said. “But we can’t risk compromising the safety of our drinking water.”
Wagner said she has received no assurances that chemicals like benzene, which are used to break the rock, won’t be fully separated from the water after treatment.
She added that some landowners in Pennsylvania who leased their property to companies for “fracking” found themselves unable to drink their tap water, having to get barrels of water instead.
“That is sending a clear-cut message that this is not safe,” she said.
The Marcellus Shale is believed to contain some of the largest amounts of untapped natural gas.