TRENTON – Anti-fracking forces rallied outside the Statehouse Thursday, calling on the Legislature to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto last September of the bill that would have banned treatment or storage of the gas exploration wastewater in New Jersey.
Christie cited interstate commerce clause concerns in issuing an absolute veto of A575. In addition, he said the bill was premature in light of future possible technological advances in hydraulic fracturing gas exploration.
Jeff Tittel of the N.J. Sierra Club said they are confident the attempted veto override vote will be scheduled, but what concerns them is having enough Republican votes in the Assembly, where the bill originated.
The Senate had passed the bill by a large majority, 30-5. The Assembly vote was 56-19-4. The Legislature has never successfully mustered the votes to override a Christie veto.
Tittel said they have until the beginning of January, but he said they would like to have a vote scheduled before the lawmakers recess for the summer.
“Christie buried his head in the sand’’ when he vetoed the bill, said Jim Walsh of Food and Water Watch. He said they want to visit the office of lawmakers who have yet to take a position on the issue and convince them of the need to override the veto.
“The storms and rivers in New Jersey are being held hostage by big oil companies,” Tittel said.
He and other environmentalists explained that Pennsylvania has approximately 9,000 hydraulic fracturing wells in operation, and that so much waste is being generated it must be transported elsewhere, but no company in New Jersey has the ability to treat the carcinogens and heavy metals they said ‘’fracking’’ wastewater contains.
Another concern was brought to light last year. Tittel pointed out that after Superstorm Sandy struck, 20 percent of the sewer plants in the state were out of action and more than 11 billion gallons of wastewater entered state waterways.
“Our waterways are too important,’’ said Tittel, for Republican lawmakers not to override the veto.