Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fracking debate continues where no fracking's likely

Fracking opponents at a 2012 rally in Syracuse. - Dick Blume (Post-Standard)  

It's a real stretch to argue that fracking, the high-pressure, water-and-chemical method of coaxing natural gas out of reticent, underground shale deposits, is likely to be tried anytime soon in New Jersey. But that doesn't stop the state legislature from debating it. Frequently.

The official reason yesterday was A-567, a bill before the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee that would impose a permanent ban on fracking in New Jersey.

If that sounds familiar, it's because the legislature passed a similar bill during the last session. Governor Chris Christie let it go through but only after lawmakers agreed the governor's conditional veto that turned the ban into a one-year moratorium. During that year the state Department of Environmental Protection was to complete a study of the issue.

Guess what? Time's up. The DEP has not finished a report and both fracking opponents and supporters were back in the Legislature yesterday re-arguing their respective cases.

Tom Johnson summarizes the hearing today in NJ Spotlight.

Following the hearing, we asked committee chairwoman L. Grace Spencer why she voted for the ban. Click the arrow in the audio player below to hear what she said.

We'll have audio interviews with advocates on both sides of the fracking issue in our next EnviroPolitics Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or BeyondPod.

Related environmental news stories:

Anti-fracking campaign ads drill Governor Cuomo
No fracking for shale gas in Germany any time soon

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