It might be all up to Gov. Chris Christie now, but area environmental organization Food and Water Watch is hoping New Jersey residents can help steer him in the right direction when it comes to anti-fracking legislation currently sitting on his desk waiting for a signature.
Volunteers from the environmental organization took to downtown Red Bank Thursday to ask for signatures and to encourage residents to call Christie and tell him that they don’t want fracking wastewater — the carcinogen-laden remnants left over from hydraulic fracturing — treated in New Jersey.
In June, the State Senate and Assembly easily bipartisan support would ban fracking wastewater disposal or storage in New Jersey. The bills have yet to be signed by Christie, who has stated publicly that he’d like to do a bit of his own research into fracking and fracking wastewater disposal before making a final decision.
“Our water treatment plants are not designed to treat the waste,” Watch volunteer Lauren Petrie said, holding a clipboard and handing out flyers to passersby on Broad Street. “It’s hazardous. It contains known carcinogens and some of it is radioactive.”
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of extracting natural gas from underground by pumping fracking fluid — a combination of water and chemicals, not all of which are known — into shale a mile below the surface. The fracking causes, in essence, small earthquakes, which results in the release of natural gas.
Though New Jersey isn’t believed to have much in the way of natural gas beneath its surface, making fracking on state soil unlikely, nearby states like Pennsylvania and Ohio have embraced the process. When it comes to treating the toxic wastewater that’s left behind, however, New Jersey is fair game.
The bills banning fracking waste from being treated in New Jersey were passed by the Assembly 56-19-1-4 and the Senate 30-5-5, respectively. Locally, State Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-11, voted to approve the fracking wastewater ban. She was joined by Assembly Representatives Declan O’Scanlon, R-13, and Caroline Casagrande, R-11.
Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, R-11, voted against the ban.
There are many environmental concerns related to fracking. At the worst, the process, some believe, could result in significant, and deadly, earthquakes. At the very least, the process of fracking involves pumping dangerous chemicals deep into ground where drinking water could be impacted. Though proponents of the practice contend that fracking poses no risk to drinking water because it’s done so far under ground, studies have shown elevated levels of contaminants in the drinking water of those near the gas drilling operations.
There have been talks about , which provides drinking water to some 15 million people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, though no approvals have been granted. Fracking has even spread to areas of New York State.
“That’s all New York has. It’s got the best drinking water in the country and this could single handily destroy that,” Holmdel resident and petition signer Carolyn Stanyek said. “It’s sick. This is important. I’m serious. This is important for our kids and their kids.”
To learn more about the dangers of fracking, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org. To reach the governor about signing the bills into law, call 866-846-4075.