Murphy joins governors calling for fracking ban in Delaware watershed
Gov. Phil Murphy spoke of the importance of making New Jersey a leader in alternative energy before signing an executive order to return the state to national leadership in offshore wind energy. Wednesday, January 31
ERIN GRUGAN / Staff Photographer
PHILLIPSBURG — Gov. Phil Murphy has announced he will join 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, puts at risk the health and safety of people and the economic life of Delaware River towns, he said.
It was the latest of several environmental actions Murphy took 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.
“Gov. 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 three million in New Jersey," said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. “Phil Murphy has done more for the environment and clean energy this week than Chris Christie did in his entire eight years as governor.”
Hydraulic fracturing — commonly called “fracking” — is a process that injects highly pressurized liquid into the earth to fracture subterranean shale and extract natural gas or oil. It has been linked to contaminated groundwater and other environmental damage.
While there is no fracking operation in New Jersey, it's important that New Jersey be on board to oppose it throughout the watershed, said 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.
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.