Tag Archive: Food & Water Watch

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.

What the Frack?

How would you like it if your neighbor dumped the waste from his septic tank into your back yard? Well, that’s what Christie’s Cronies are proposing to let happen in New Jersey, and some legislators are working to prevent this.

Energy companies are promoting the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, to extract gas and oil from underground deposits. Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water laced with proprietary chemicals into the ground to force the gas and oil out. But the broth that is injected into the earth must go somewhere, and that detritus contains carcinogens and radioactive materials.

The New Jersey legislature banned fracking, but the governor issued a conditional veto which only puts a one year moratorium on the practice in the state. However, states like Pennsylvania and Ohio permit the process, and much of the toxic waste liquid is shipped to the Garden State for disposal.

Today, a coalition of 70 environmental and other organizations held a press conference in Trenton in support of a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Connie Wagner and supported by Assemblyman John McKeon and 15 other co-sponsors that would prohibit the transport and storage of fracking waste in the state. No matter how safe the energy companies claim their processes are, this is a human endeavor and involves accidents. We are endangering New Jersey’s drinking water for the enrichment of the energy barons and out-of-state employers.

While tax relief is at the top of the agenda for everyone in Trenton, if we don’t have clean air and water, no amount of tax relief will make New Jersey a pleasant place to live. That message needs to be sent loud and clear to our leaders in Trenton.