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Christie signs Permit Extension Act, vetoes bill seeking fracking ban

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    Gov. Chris Christie today issued a veto of a bill that would have banned the treatment of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and signed bills extending a key development deadline, eased restrictions on breweries and modernizing regulation of limited liability companies.

    The fracking bill would have prohibited treatment, discharge, disposal, or storage of wastewater, wastewater solids, sludge, drill cuttings or other byproducts from natural gas exploration or production using hydraulic fracturing. Industry executives have maintained the process is good for the economy, by keeping natural gas prices low, and that the byproducts of the process are safe.

    Environmentalists had gathered several times in recent weeks to ask Christie to sign the measure. However, they always faced long odds in the effort, with energy industry advocates pointing out that Christie administration officials had pointed to natural gas as an important component in meeting the state’s future needs in the state energy master plan.

    In an conditional veto in August 2011, Christie proposed a one-year moratorium on fracking, instead of an outright ban, to allow the Department of Environmental Protection to review the practice.

    Support for the Permit Extension Act was a key goal of the development community, which said it needed more time following the recession to put into place existing development plans. The new bill will keep existing permits active through Dec. 31, 2014; they had been slated to expire at the close of this year.

    An earlier vote on this measure was delayed in Trenton following intense campaigning by environmentalists, who argued the bill would open up sections of the Highlands region to new development.

    The LLC bill represents the largest overhaul of state laws overseeing limited liability corporations.

    State regulations of LLCs had been described by business owners and lawyers as out-of-date, making the state less competitive. Changes include eliminating the default — and often overlooked — rule that LLCs have a limited life; permitting LLC operating agreements to oral, written or implied, based on how the LLC has operated; allocated LLC profits and losses on a per capita basis, unless otherwise agreed; and allowing an LLC member to seek to dissolve the company if its managers are acting in a manner harmful to the member.

    Other business-related bills signed by the governor: A measure easing restrictions on both microbreweries and brewpubs, and another eliminating the requirement for cable TV companies to notify customers of price changes or channel changes.

    Christie was facing a deadline for signing bills that originated in the state Assembly, which is reconvening on Monday after being away from Trenton since passing a flurry of bills in June.

    Contributing: Joe Arney

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