Goal is to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in Delaware River Basin, water supply to more than 15 million people in four states
Tom Johnson reports for NJ Spotlight:
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday joined neighboring governors in backing a ban on hydraulic fracturing, making a prohibition on the controversial natural-gas drilling practice in the Delaware River Basin much more likely.
At a press conference in Phillipsburg on the banks of the Delaware River, Murphy also said he is opposed to the dumping of fracking waste within the basin and withdrawal of water within the watershed to be used in drilling operations outside the basin.
Both of the latter steps, as is a ban within the watershed, are pending under proposed regulations by the Delaware River Basin Commission and are strongly opposed by a coalition of environmental organizations.
United we stand
Murphy’s announcement, like a handful of others he has made in public events this week, reverses policies embraced by the Christie administration. More importantly, it appears to have all four states on the interstate agency united in their goal to ban the practice, which has led to steep declines in the price of natural gas and boosted the region’s economy.
Fracking is the practice in which huge amounts of water, along with a smaller mixture of toxic chemicals, is injected into shale formations to extract the natural gas. No such drilling occurs in New Jersey, but it is widespread in parts of Pennsylvania outside the Delaware Basin, where a de facto moratorium is in place.
Backed by most business groups, the practice has helped usher in cheap natural gas that has dramatically changed the energy sector and led to lower prices to consumers to heat their homes. Opponents fear expanded fracking will pollute the Delaware River, the drinking water source for 15 million people in four states.
“Today, we reverse course,’’ Murphy told a gathering of supporters at Union Square on the river’s edge, saying the banning of fracking will protect the public’s health and safety, which are at risk from the drilling.
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