Monday, January 9, 2012

Will the NJ Senate override Christie's fracking ban veto?

The Democratic leadership in the New Jersey Senate will attempt an override vote today of Gov. Chris Christie's conditional veto of a bill that bans the controversial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technique used in natural gas drilling.

In June, the Legislature passed S-2576 which would impose a permanent ban on fracking in New Jersey. Two months later, the governor returned the bill to the Legislature, agreeing to sign it if it were amended to make the ban apply for one year only. That, he said, would give the federal departments of  Energy and Environment Protection time to complete ongoing studies of the drilling method.

The Legislature took no action on the governor's conditional veto until a coalition of environmental groups, who do not want a ban of limited duration, called last week for an override attempt at today's final meeting of the current legislative session.

If the override vote fails--as is almost assured--there will be no fracking ban of any duration in New Jersey.

Why would the environmentalists not settle for a one-year ban and seek later to extend it?

Because banning fracking in New Jersey--where there is little natural gas to be exploited--is not the point.

The point is to raise public awareness of  potential environmental dangers posed by fracking and to build pressure on the Christie Administration to take hard line on fracking regulations that the regional Delaware Regional Basic Commission is attempting to adopt.

When the override vote fails, due to an insufficient number of Republican votes, activists will get to paint the Republicans and the Republican governor as 'anti-environmental.' 

Then they will quickly reintroduce the bill in the Legislature's 215th Session which opens tomorrow. That will keep the fracking issue alive and available for political re-drilling in the months ahead.

Here's a full copy of the legislation and the governor's conditional veto message.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  Tell us what you think in the opinion box below.  If one is not visible, click on the tiny 'comments' line to activate it.

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