Opponents of the environmentally damaging practice now sweeping the country of hydrofracking shale deposits for natural gas were delighted last week when the N.J. Legislature voted to ban the practice. The vote, 33 to 1 in the Senate and 51 to 11 in the Assembly, showed such a rare bi-partisan agreement so absent in today’s political discourse that many environmentalists hoped New Jersey’s politicians finally recognized that solving the state’s pollution problems transcends partisan bickering.
We hope this is the case, but we’re not sure. Gov. Christie, who has become increasingly hostile to the state’s environmental problems, has yet to sign the bill. If he does, it will be a watershed event. But will he? Sen. Joseph M. Kyrollis Jr. did not vote on the bill but offered an amendment -- rejected by the Senate -- to ban hydrofracking for five years. But why would Kyrollis delay hydrofracking?
There is growing public anger over hydrofracking, which requires enormous amounts of water and a number of toxic chemicals that the frackers are not required by law to report. Vice President Dick Cheney accomplished this dodge while in office. These undisclosed chemicals pollute both underground and surface water supplies. This debacle is very hard for politicians to support, so we may be seeing a “pretend” vote where pro-development politicians duck citizens’ ire by voting against hydrofracking, knowing that the governor will use his veto power to avoid an out-right ban and force environmentally responsible politicians to accept Kyrollis’ “compromise” that opens the door in five years.
The state of New Jersey deserves better. Until hydrofracking is absolutely safe, it must be banned. The first step would be to require complete disclosure of the chemicals they plan on indirectly pumping into our water supply.
Dennis Anderson, Chair
Jersey Shore (Monmouth) Group of the Sierra Club
Joellen Lundy, President
N.J Friends of Clearwater