NEW GOVERNOR Murphy Calls for Full Fracking Ban on Delaware

Governor Murphy is sending a letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) outlining how New Jersey will vote via their proposed fracking ban. Murphy will vote to support the ban in full, meaning only if it includes banning taking and dumping frack water. The DRBC is continuing their hearing process for their fracking ban proposal. They can make amendments to the proposal after the hearings to add additional protections.

“Murphy supporting a full ban on fracking is a big victory for the environment, water, and communities of the Delaware Basin. Governor Murphy is stepping up to protect the 17 million people who depend on the region for drinking water from the hazards of fracking including the over 3 million in NJ. Murphy supports the DRBC’s proposed ban on fracking as well as strengthening the ban to include no dumping or taking of water for frack activities. With his leadership we need to get the other Governors to also support a full DRBC ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Phil Murphy has done more for the environment and clean energy this week than Chris Christie did in his entire eight years as Governor.”

In 2010 the DRBC prohibited permitting for natural gas extraction projects in the Delaware River Basin while they study its potential impacts on water resources, a de-facto moratorium that does not allow permits to be issued until natural gas regulations are adopted. Since 2010, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and on-the-ground experience where fracking has wreaked havoc prove that fracking simply isn’t safe.

“Environmentalists including the Sierra Club have been fighting to prevent fracking in the region for a decade. We’re been fighting to make the moratorium permanent since it first went into effect eight years ago. Our campaign to ban fracking has included numerous rallies and events urging the DRBC to move forward in this direction. In July, we brought tens of thousands of signed petitions from people all over the region urging Governor Christie to implement this ban,” said Jeff Tittel. “There were proposals at one time for 30,000 wells in the Delaware Basin. It would have destroyed tens of thousands of acres of open space, polluted hundreds of billions of gallons of water and threaten wildlife habitat and community safety. Now with this ban moving forward, we can help make sure that our water supplies and forests won’t be destroyed by fracking.”

Fracking in the Delaware River Basin would destroy tens of thousands of forests, open space, and wildlife habitat. At the same time, it will pollute our waterways and threaten the drinking water for 17 million people. In 2010 the DRBC prohibited permitting for natural gas extraction projects in the Delaware River Basin while they study its potential impacts on water resources, a de-facto moratorium that does not allow permits to be issued until natural gas regulations are adopted. Since 2010, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and on-the-ground experience where fracking has wreaked havoc prove that fracking simply isn’t safe.

“We need a full fracking ban because the Delaware River is an environmental treasure on the East Coast that supplies the clean drinking water for more than 17 million people. The River even received designation for Wild and Scenic and is classified as Special Protection Waters (SPW) due to exceptionally high water-quality and outstanding natural resources with special regulations that protect those resources and maintain the River’s exceptional water quality.  The entire drainage area that flows to the nontidal Delaware River, which extends from Hancock NY to Trenton NJ, is designated as SPW, and is the longest stretch of anti-degradation waters in the nation. The Delaware River Basin is a treasure that’s under threat from fracking and pipelines and we must have a permanent ban to protect it,” said Tittel.

Fracking involves injecting huge amounts of water and chemicals in rock formations that can pollute surrounding aquifers and waterways. This requires mixing millions of gallons of water with toxic chemicals including volatile organic chemicals like benzene, methyl benzene, formaldehyde, and others that are linked to cancer. The process also releases toxic chemicals like arsenic and mercury that are naturally trapped in the shale. The average well uses 2.5 to 4.5 million gallons of water for fracking, many wells are fracked two to three times. Drilling will also require trillions of gallons of water.

“A fracking ban is not only critically important for the Delaware River Basin, but it protects the property rights for tens of millions who live there. Not only will fracking pollute their waterways and threaten water supply for 17 million people, but it could destroy billions of dollars of ratables owned by those in the Basin. If their land is polluted or taken by eminent domain for pipelines, it destroys their property values and interferes with their Constitutional rights. People have a right to life, liberty, and property; and fracking and pipelines destroy these inherent rights,” said Jeff Tittel. “The Sierra Club has been working on this for ten years with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and some other groups. Now that we’ve won, other groups are jumping on the Bandwagon. We are proud to finally see our efforts paid off.”

We need a complete ban of fracking activities, including not allowing dumping fracking waste or taking water for fracking activities elsewhere. Having a partial ban that actually allows the dumping of fracking waste still puts the drinking water and environment of the Basin at risk. Dumping fracking wastewater is dangerous because it contains over 600 different toxic chemicals, many of them carcinogenic. This could lead to pollution and contaminated drinking water. Without a full ban, it could also allow for facilities such as the proposed Elcon Hazardous Waste Facility to be built to dispose of frack waste while also threatening our environment and drinking water.

“We need the other Governors to join Murphy and vote for a full ban of fracking and fracking activities in the Basin. The people of this Valley want to protect these natural resources as well as our drinking water. Banning fracking also helps prevent more pipelines and other fossil fuel projects such as the proposed Elcon frack waste incinerator from being built in the Valley. Given the change in Administrations at the federal level, it is more important than ever that we protect our resources. With Donald Trump as President, all of this environmental progress could be rolled back. That is why we are urging the Commission to defend the Delaware and uphold all of these protections by making the fracking ban permanent,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We want to thank Phil Murphy for supporting this important cause and working to protect our region.”