Sierra Club says Christie benefits from hydraulic fracturing-related investment

TRENTON – The head of the state chapter of the Sierra Club accused Gov. Chris Christie today of benefiting financially from the hydraulic fracturing method of gas-drilling, and questioned the governor’s ability to make impartial decisions regarding “fracking’’ and its possible future in New Jersey.

Jeff Tittel, state director of the Sierra Club, said today that Christie has “been making thousands of dollars off the dangerous drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing or fracking,” citing the governor’s recently released income tax return.

Spokesman for the governor, Michael Drewniak, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tittel said that since 2005, Christie has invested in a company called Ecosphere Technologies Inc. That company is “a diversified water engineering, technology licensing and environmental services company that designs, develops and manufactures wastewater treatment solutions for industrial markets,” according to the company website.

Tittel said the company “pioneered Ozonix, which is a high-volume, water-recycling process that is already being used by gas drillers.”

“Fracking involves injecting close to 600 chemicals mixed with water and sand underground,” Tittel said in a press release, “potentially contaminating groundwater and creating a toxic brew that will return to the surface and be treated at wastewater treatment plants.”

Tittel pointed to $28,435 in earnings from the company stock – purchased in 2005 and moved into a blind trust when Christie ran for governor – as the reason “the Governor and New Jersey have taken such a weak stance on fracking.”

“The Governor must have thought fracking was a good investment despite the mounting scientific evidence of the toxic impacts to our water, air, and open spaces,” Tittel said. “This raises concerns that the Governor is more committed to gas drilling than protecting New Jersey residents from the impacts of fracking.”

In August, the Legislature passed a bipartisan bill to ban fracking in New Jersey, which Christie conditionally vetoed, imposing a one-year moratorium. Tittel said that was Christie “taking the side of the gas and fracking industry, and his stock shares, over the people of New Jersey.”

On Nov. 21, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will vote on whether to lift the multistate moratorium on fracking, and Christie is said to have the deciding vote.

“Governor Christie has a vote on the DRBC but his representative has made statements supporting Pennsylvania’s right to drill over protecting the critical water and other natural resources for the people of New Jersey,” Tittel said, referring to comments made by Christie appointee to the agency, John Plonski, in support of Pennsylvania’s initiative to expand natural gas production in that state.

Previous coverage:

Enviros ask Christie for deciding vote on fracking ban


Sierra Club says Christie benefits from hydraulic fracturing-related investment