Fracking opponents will fight for veto override

TRENTON – Environmentalists and lawmakers accused Gov. Chris Christie of letting New Jersey residents down by vetoing last week the anti-fracking legislation.

The governor issued a veto of a bill that would have banned the importation or treatment of hydraulic fracturing waste in New Jersey.

Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, prime sponsor of the legislation, said they will continue to fight for a legislative override.

And environmentalists decried Christie’s action today as a betrayal of his oath of office to protect the health of New Jersey residents.

Jim Walsh of Food & Water Watch said that Christie has been “bought off by the oil and gas industry.”

Fracking opponents said that contrary to the wording of the veto message, the bill would not have violated constitutional protections against interfering with interstate commerce because that clause has a health and safety exception.

In addition, they said that there are approximately 1.6 trillion cubic feet of gas deposits in New Jersey, undercutting the administration’s arguments that a law is not necessary since there is no fracking occurring in the state.

There could be fracking at some point, and the bill was necessary to protect the state until the science and the safeguards could be advanced, environmentalists said.

But with this veto, the opponents will need some of the Republicans who voted for the bill to stand up to Christie and back an override. Wagner said they will call on Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver to lead the effort for an override.

Wagner said that neighboring New York state has stated there will be no fracking until a study of the health effects is done. This is not a matter of interstate commerce, she said, “this is about protecting water.”

And Tracy Carluccio of Delaware Riverkeeper said that another concern is that there are no federal standards in place to protect residents, making the just-vetoed bill even more important.

“Christie said move over and make room for fracking waste,’’ she said. “He has thrown aside all precautions.”

The bill was passed out of concern for fracking waste generated in Pennsylvania being transported into New Jersey.

Pennsylvania had 1.5 billion gallons of fracking waste to get rid of last year, Carluccio said.

Jeff Tittel of the N.J. Sierra Club said Christie has failed to honor his oath to N.J. residents and that there is no middle ground on this particular issue: Fracking generates harmful waste and the state needs protections in place.

Fracking opponents will fight for veto override