Source: Press of Atlantic City.com
Gov. Phil Murphy has joined the governors of Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware to support a ban on fracking in the 3,000-square-mile Delaware River watershed.
Murphy called fracking “one of modern times’ most damaging threats.” Its use of chemicals, and their ability to pollute water systems, risks the health of people and economies in Delaware River towns, he said at a Thursday press conference.
It was the latest of several environmental actions Murphy took in the last week.
On Monday he signed an executive order for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; Tuesday he withdrew the state from West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, in which some states sued to undo Clean Power Plan regulations; and Wednesday he signed an order to jump-start the state’s offshore wind energy industry.
While there is no fracking operation in New Jersey, it’s important that New Jersey oppose it throughout the watershed, said New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy. The watershed includes smaller rivers and tributaries that feed into the Delaware.
“Even if fracking stays on one side of the river, the chemicals won’t,” she said.
New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said Murphy is protecting the 17 million people who depend on the region for drinking water, including more than three million in New Jersey.
“Phil Murphy has done more for the environment and clean energy this week than Chris Christie did in his entire eight years as governor,” said Tittel.
Hydraulic fracturing — commonly called “fracking” — is a process that extracts natural gas or oil after injecting pressurized liquid into the earth to fracture subterranean shale. It has been linked to contaminated groundwater and other environmental damage.
Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, said Murphy’s action “shows his commitment to protecting the drinking water of all New Jerseyans, as well as the eco-economy that is so important to towns up and down the Delaware.”
In September 2017, the Delaware River Basin Commission approved a resolution to publish proposed regulations to ban high-volume fracking in the watershed, and discourage export of water for fracking outside the basin and import of fracking wastewater.
But under Christie, New Jersey abstained from the vote. It was the only Delaware River Basin state to withhold support.
On Thursday, Murphy sent a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, chair of the DRBC, to express his support for a fracking ban.
There will be DRBC public hearings through March, after which the board is expected to consider adopting the proposed regulations.