Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

NJ Legislature Bans Fracking Waste

Energy
NJ Legislature Bans Fracking Waste

Environment New Jersey

In the latest state-level action against fracking, the New Jersey legislature today approved a measure to ban the processing of waste from the dirty gas drilling practice. Environment New Jersey and our allies stepped up efforts to build support for the ban after learning that fracking waste had been discharged into the Delaware River by a DuPont facility in Salem County.  The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Bob Gordon (D-38) and Sen. Jen Beck (R-12), passed by a bipartisan landslide margin of 30-5.
 
“Toxic waste from fracking should not be allowed anywhere near New Jersey’s waterways,” said Doug O’Malley, interim director of Environment New Jersey. “The New Jersey Senate chose drinking water over gas drillers today, and we urge Gov. Christie to sign this bill into law.”
 
Fracking is a gas drilling technique that involves pumping a mix of chemicals, sand and water down a well at such high pressure that it cracks open gas-bearing rock formations. When the process is complete, wastewater—often laced with toxics like benzene, heavy metals, and even radioactive material—flows back to the surface. Fracking wastewater has contaminated drinking water sources on numerous occasions in other states.
 
While fracking has yet to commence in New Jersey, the gas drilling boom next door in Pennsylvania has already produced more than 1.3 billion gallons of contaminated wastewater. Chemical companies—including DuPont—have started to bring some of that waste into New Jersey.
 
“Fracking is a potent source of toxic waste,” said O’Malley. “That is the last thing New Jersey needs.”
 
Based on the experience of our sister organizations in states where fracking is happening, Environment New Jersey cited documented cases of fracking waste polluting drinking water and causing other problems, including:
 
In Pennsylvania, after fracking wastewater was discharged from sewage treatment plants into the Monongahela River, the state advised 325,000 people in and around Pittsburgh not to use their tap water for more than a week.
 
In New Mexico, state records show drilling waste has contaminated groundwater at nearly 400 different sites.
 
In Ohio, deep well-injection of fracking wastewater was linked to a 4.0 level earthquake in the Youngstown area last December.
 
Environment New Jersey and its allies have worked to build public support for the frack waste ban—with citizen activists writing letters to the editor, emailing and calling their legislators. A week and a half ago, more than 150 citizens came to Trenton to urge the Legislature to take action. The senate vote today followed the Assembly’s approval of the measure last week, by a vote of 59-19.
 
Today’s vote in New Jersey marks a growing chorus of states voicing deep concern over the issue. Earlier this year, Vermont also banned the processing of fracking wastewater (and fracking itself), and New York’s Assembly voted to regulate the wastewater like other hazardous wastes.
 
The states’ actions fills a vacuum as oil and gas waste is exempt from the nation’s hazardous waste laws, explained John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment New Jersey.
 
“Fracking has been an unmitigated disaster for the environment and our health—poisoning waters, making families sick, and turning forests into industrial zones,” Rumpler said. “The measure passed in the New Jersey legislature today will not only help keep local drinking water safe but also set a precedent to put the brakes on fracking pollution elsewhere.”
 
Environment New Jersey and our allies will now turn the spotlight to Gov. Chris Christie, who conditionally vetoed a ban on fracking itself (as opposed to waste processing) last June. The Governor has 45 days to consider the legislation before a decision is required.

--------

Environment New Jersey is a statewide, citizen-supported environmental advocacy organization representing more than 30,000 citizen members.

A sign indicates that glyphosate has been used on a farmer's field. Jo Zimny / Flickr

More than half the bacteria in the human gut microbiome are sensitive to glyphosate, the mostly commonly used herbicide in the world, reported scientists this month in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is seen on October 19, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. Denis Doyle / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday that former Secretary of State John Kerry will sit on his National Security Council (NSC) as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Susanna Pershern / Submerged Resources Center/ National Park Service / public domain

By Melissa Gaskill

Two decades ago scientists and volunteers along the Virginia coast started tossing seagrass seeds into barren seaside lagoons. Disease and an intense hurricane had wiped out the plants in the 1930s, and no nearby meadows could serve as a naturally dispersing source of seeds to bring them back.

Read More Show Less
Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less
The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less