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Wagner & Gordon: Governor Gets It Wrong on Fracking, Once Again

Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (both D-Bergen/Passaic) on Friday called the Governor’s veto of a ban on “fracking” wastewater a shortsighted and misinformed move that puts the interests of other states ahead of the residents of New Jersey.

The measure (A-575/S-253), which was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of the legislature, would have protected New Jersey residents from contaminated wastewater produced by the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by prohibiting, in New Jersey, the treatment, discharge, disposal, or storage of any wastewater, wastewater solids, sludge, drill cuttings or other byproducts resulting from hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of natural gas exploration or production in any state.

“The governor issued a veto in search of a justification,” said Gordon. “The governor’s decision is a slap in the face of every New Jerseyan who cherishes clean water. We sent this bill to the governor with overwhelming bipartisan support, and it is my hope that we will enact it over this misguided veto by those same margins.”

“The Governor’s two primary reasons for vetoing this bill are inherently flawed,” said Wagner. “For someone who talks so much about leadership, it seems contradictory to punt on this issue when it could potentially put our residents in harms way while we wait for the federal government to take action. The prudent thing to do would be to halt these practices in any shape or form until we know for sure what harm, if any, they might pose. Instead the Governor would prefer to protect the interests of other states instead of the public safety and environment in New Jersey.”

Fracking is a drilling technique used to expand existing fractures or create new fractures in rock by injecting water, often laced with chemicals, sand, or other substances, and often under high pressure, into or underneath the surface of the rock, typically for the purpose of natural gas exploration and production. The wastewater can be polluted with contaminants such as radium, benzene, barium and strontium.

The sponsors noted that the intent of the bill is to protect the environment and public health, safety and welfare, particularly if any contaminated wastewater ends up in rivers and streams, not as the Governor’s veto suggests to “economically isolate New Jersey by placing an embargo on out-of-state commerce.”

Furthermore, Gordon and Wagner pointed out that an opinion issued by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) states that the bill would not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, as the Governor maintains in his veto statement, because the bill does not discriminate between one state to the next and would not have treated wastewater generated in New Jersey differently than any generated out of New Jersey.