Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NJ environmental committee backs anti-fracking bills

Three bills seeking to sideline the use of hydrofracturing to extract natural gas from shale formations were released for a floor vote on Monday, March 7, by an Assembly committee
of the New Jersey Legislature.

Over the abstentions of two Republicans, Democrats on the Environment and Solid Waste Committee voted their support for :

A-3653  Wagner, C. (D-38); Gusciora, R. (D-15); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37)
Establishes moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for purpose of natural gas exploration or production until certain conditions are met.  Related Bill: S-2582
AJR-67  Wagner, C. (D-38); Gusciora, R. (D-15); Vainieri Huttle, V. (D-37)
Urges Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania to enact moratorium against hydraulic fracturing until EPA concludes its study and issues its findings on that drilling practice.  Related Bill: SJR-59

AR-112 Urges Congress and President to enact legislation similar to H.R.2766, known as "Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act of 2009," and S.1215, known as "Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act." 

NJ Spotlight's environmental writer Tom Johnson provides a good account of the meeting in
Assembly Committee Seeks to Stop Hydraulic Fracturing Before It Can Start

If you have the time (it's long), you can listen to the entire Assembly committee hearing here.

The hydrofracturing debate flips over to the Senate side of the Legislature tomorrow, Mar. 10,
as the Senate Environment and Energy Committee takes up two bills on the subject.

The headliner is Senator Robert Gordon's S-2575, which would prohibit New Jersey's voting member on the regional Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) from supporting the use of  hydraulic fracturing.

This is an important bill since Governor Christie is New Jersey's member on the Commission which is in the process of developing new regulations which permit the use of hydrofracturing, with limitations, in gas-drilling operations located in regions of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York that fall within the Delaware River's watershed.

If the legislation passes both houses, Christie would be forced either to veto the bill, alienating a growing segment of the public which is concerned about hydrofracturing's perceived environmental and health risks, or vote against the DRBC's proposed regulations. The latter would alienate the gas industry and property owners interested in cashing in on drilling liens.  

You can listed to the committee's hearing on Thursday, via the Legislature's website.



The second bill, S-2576, also sponsored by Gordon, would prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing for gas exploration or production in New Jersey.

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