New Jersey lawmakers are looking add controls to the controversial natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
On Monday, the Senate Environment and Energy Committee voted 4-1 in favor of Senate Bill 678, which would ban disposal or placement of fracking by-products in the state.
Fracking is a process in which rocks deep underground are broken apart by injecting highly pressurized liquid in between them, freeing up the natural gas and petroleum stuck between the rocks.
S678 does not specifically ban fracking, but instead prohibits the “treatment, discharge, disposal, application to a roadway, or other release into the environment of wastewater or byproducts from hydraulic fracturing” within the state.
The measure also would apply to “wastewater, wastewater solids, sludge, drill cuttings or other by-products resulting from fracking in any state.”
“The fracking boom in Pennsylvania is producing millions of gallons of toxic wastewater that poses a direct threat to public health and clean drinking water,” Food and Water Watch Policy Advocate Lena Smith said in a statement. “The Legislature needs to take action to keep this dangerous drilling waste out of our state.
The liquid deployed contains sand, water and chemical components such as gels. Its use has fallen under criticism from environmentalists because of environmental effects, groundwater contamination and insufficient hazardous waste disposal.
“It is crucial we pass this legislation to protect New Jersey’s natural resources from being damaged by the chemicals found in fracking by-product,” Senate Environment Committee Chair Bob Smith, D-17th District, said in a written statement. “Although companies refuse to disclose many of the chemicals present in fracking wastewater, the EPA has identified several chemicals known to have harmful health effects.”
In February, Gov. Phil Murphy announced his support of a ban of hydraulic fracking within the Delaware River Basin.