Gov’s Office responds to Sierra Club criticism on fracking-related investments

TRENTON – The Governor’s Office responded this afternoon to criticisms from the Sierra Club about a Gov. Chris Christie investment in a company involved in fracking waste-water cleanup.

“The Governor’s and First Lady’s financial holdings are in a blind trust,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said, “which by definition removes them from having any decision-making power whatsoever in whether securities they held before taking office are kept, sold, or new securities are purchased.

“The Governor made a prudent, careful decision based solely in the interests of our state and its citizens when he conditionally vetoed the legislation to impose a one-year, renewable moratorium on the practice of ‘fracking,’” Drewniak said in an email, referring to prior statements from the governor.

On Aug. 25, 2011, Christie explained his conditional veto via news release.

“I share many of the concerns expressed by the legislators that sponsored this bill and the environmental advocates seeking a permanent moratorium on fracking. We must ensure that our environment is protected and our drinking water is safe,” Christie said.

“I am placing a one-year moratorium on fracking so that the DEP can further evaluate the potential environmental impacts of this practice in New Jersey as well as evaluate the findings of still outstanding and ongoing federal studies.

“The potential environmental concerns with fracking in our state must be studied and weighed carefully against the potential benefits of increasing access to natural gas in New Jersey. The decision on whether to ban fracking outright or regulate it for environmental protection must be developed on the basis of sound policy and legitimate science,” continued the governor.

“Therefore, while I share many of the concerns expressed by those who support this legislation, I believe that a one-year moratorium on fracking in New Jersey while the issue is studied by the USDOE, USEPA, and NJDEP is the most prudent, responsible, and balanced course of action.”

On N.J. 101.5’s radio show, Ask The Governor, on Oct. 6, 2011, the chief executive responded to a caller question.

The transcript from Drewniak: “Caller: My question is there’s a public meeting on October 21st of the Delaware River Basin Commission and I’m calling to ask how you’re going to have your alternates vote in allowing hydrofracking in draft regulations for the Delaware River Basin which supplies one-third of the drinking water to New Jersey and this state’s residents.

“Governor Christie: I don’t know yet, Jean. I will tell you that I think I’m going to be talking to the DEP Commissioner Bob Martin who I believe is my representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission. You do know, I suspect, because you sound pretty well versed on the topic, that I did sign a one-year moratorium on fracking in New Jersey.

“I’m hoping that’s going to get passed by the Legislature, my conditional veto so that I can sign it, so we can have the DEP do its own independent look while the EPA is doing it as well as to the safety of fracking. But in terms of what is going to happen at the Delaware River Basin Commission I haven’t made a final determination on that yet and I’ll be meeting over the course of the next week or ten days with Commissioner Martin to discuss it with him and get his advice.”

Earlier coverage:

Sierra Club says Christie benefits from hydraulic fracturing-related investment

  Gov’s Office responds to Sierra Club criticism on fracking-related investments