A Senate Bill Nobody Likes

At the end of her testimony on a bill she is sponsoring, Senator Diane Allen noted that neither side on this contentious issue likes the bill, so it must be a good one.

Senator Allen, one of a rare breed of sensible Republicans, introduced a bill, S2534, that would set standards for the levels of toxins allowed in dumped wastewater from hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

In his quest for the GOP (Gruesome Oil Panderer) presidential nomination, Governor Christie twice vetoed bills that would have completely banned toxic fracking waste in New Jersey.

Senator Allen, along with environmentalists, and fracking lobbyists, discussed her bill at a meeting of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today. The chairman, Senator Bob Smith, announced that no vote would be taken today, as there’s still much work to do in crafting the language of the bill.

Naturally, this bill is opposed by environmentalists – and with good reason. Since Governor Christie has eviscerated the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP),  even if this bill were to be enacted, what kind of weak regulations would the DEP consider or enforce?

The bill is also opposed by the dirty fuel industry. Their lobbyists testified that current regulations are generally sufficient to ensure safety to the state’s drinking water supply.

I spoke with Jim Walsh of Food and Water Watch before the hearing.

As Amy Hansen of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation put it, natural gas extracted from the fracking process is a “fuel of procrastination.” I agree. There’s no reason not to devote the bulk of our resources to renewable energy now, as the costs are dropping and the technology for these safe, non-polluting fuels is maturing.

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