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Groups Push New Jersey Fracking Waste Ban
Call on Lawmakers to Pass Waste Ban Vetoed by Christie
For immediate release
Dozens of groups have signed a letter to New Jersey legislative leaders urging them to pass a statewide ban on fracking waste, which they say poses a significant threat to public health and the environment, and an immediate threat to New Jersey’s waterways. The waste ban bills (A1329/S678) could come up for a vote in the Environment Committee on March 12.
Governor Phil Murphy campaigned on promises to ban fracking and the storage of fracking waste. The legislature passed a bill banning fracking waste in 2014, but it was vetoed by Governor Christie.
Fracking is a type of drilling to extract gas from shale formations. The practice often creates millions of gallons of wastewater and solids for every new well that is drilled. The waste contains not only the chemicals used in fracking fluid, but also harmful natural contaminants from deep underground carried to the surface.
The letter– signed by 50 statewide and national environmental, political, labor and faith groups including Food & Water Watch, Pinelands Preservation Alliance, Clean Ocean Action, and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters– argues that the state does not have adequate facilities to store or treat this waste safely.
“Lawmakers saw their efforts to protect New Jersey from toxic fracking waste stymied by Governor Christie, so now is the time to get the job done,” said Lena Smith, Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer and Policy Advocate. “Governor Murphy campaigned on a pledge to ban fracking and fracking waste, so it is imperative that legislators who have committed to protecting the environment take action to keep fracking waste out of the Garden State.”
“As business leaders who understand that clean water and economic prosperity are tightly linked, we support a comprehensive ban that disallows all fracking-related activity to ensure the robust preservation of the Delaware River and surrounding communities,” said Richard Lawton, NJ Sustainable Business Council. “Thousands of local businesses, from fishermen, to brewers to communities that depend on tourism, will be threatened by disrupted operations and potentially devastating costs if fracking-related activities are allowed to put our water resources at risk.”
“Our state, the fourth smallest in size and the most densely populated, has the largest number of contaminated waste sites on the National Priorities List in the nation. It will take decades, if ever, to stabilize these 114 hazardous sites to the point they no longer threaten our health and safety, ” said Elliott Ruga, Policy Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. “Why would we ever invite additional toxic wastes, with unknown risks and formulations that are exempt from disclosure, to be processed here?”
“Banning fracking waste in New Jersey is just common sense. Frack waste is toxic and contains known and unknown chemicals that can cause cancer and birth defects. There is no safe way to treat the waste and spreading it on our roadways, or releasing it back into our water systems is a terrible idea,” said Christine Clarke, Environmental Director, Action Together New Jersey.
“Clean safe water is central to all life. In this time of a global water crisis, it is imperative that our NJ Legislators act to keep our waters safe and clean. We urge them to act NOW to protect our waters and pass A1329/S678, the Ban on Fracking Waste treatment and disposal in New Jersey,” said Sr. Suzanne Golas of WATERSPIRIT.
There is currently a bill in the New Jersey legislature (A1329/S678) that would prohibit the treatment, storage, or disposal of wastewater and solids from hydraulic fracturing. Meanwhile, the Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Senator Steve Sweeney in February that would permit a waste treatment facility in Salem County. The facility in question would dump the treated wastewater into the Delaware River, a practice at odds with Governor Murphy’s position on banning fracking waste and keeping fracking activities out of the Delaware River basin.
As the letter states: “Banning the disposal and treatment of fracking wastewater would eliminate the risks and costs to New Jersey’s public health, public infrastructure and the environment that fracking wastewater presents. It would also reduce the risk of accidental spills from trucking fracking wastewater through the state, spills that could lead to local contamination of water resources. For these reasons, we urge you to support companion legislation (A1329/S678) for Governor Murphy to sign in the first 200 days of the administration.”