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New Jersey and fracking

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As of 2013, there is no drilling for natural gas in New Jersey. The state legislature has said there is the "potential for massive natural gas deposits in beds of Utica shale – a ridge of which lies beneath Sussex and Warren counties," and potentially the Newark Basin underlying Middlesex County. Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the DEP, said some "minute areas" of the state have potential for hydraulic fracturing, mostly near the Delaware Water Gap in the northern reaches of the state.[1] He previously said "there is no frackable shale in New Jersey that can produce energy."[2] At issue is not just if there is technically recoverable gas underlying the state, but if it is economically feasible to recover it.

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection showed fracking waste from Pennsylvania had gone to NJ facilities,[3] and there are current and proposed natural gas pipelines beneath the state.[4]

Introduction

The state Legislature passed bills in 2011 and 2012 calling for a ban on fracking, citing unknown environmental and health effects. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the 2011 bill, changing the all-out ban to a one-year moratorium.[5] The moratorium expired in January 2013.[6]

In May 2012, environmental groups called on the New Jersey Legislature to ban the treatment, disposal, and storage of any hydraulic fracturing waste in the state.[7] Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection showed waste from Pennsylvania had gone to NJ facilities in Elizabeth, South Kearny, and Carteret.[8] In September 2012 Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned New Jersey treatment plants from accepting fracking wastewater.[9]

Fracking wastewater

In May 2012, environmental, religious, and other groups called on the New Jersey Legislature to ban the treatment, disposal, and storage of any hydraulic fracturing waste. The groups say they are concerned that waste will be shipped in from Pennsylvania, which they say has already produced more than 1.3 billion gallons of contaminated wastewater. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D) introduced a bill to ban fracking waste in the state, with Sen. Robert Gordon (D) introducing a companion bill in his chamber. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection does have interim restrictions in place for companies that import waste from fracturing operations, but not a full ban.[10]

In a November 2011 advisory to the industry, the NJ DEP said the waste "may contain petroleum hydrocarbons from drilling fluids and elevated concentrations of heavy metals and radionuclides." Fracturing waste has not come into New Jersey so far this year, according to the NJ DEP in May 2012,[11] but on June 15, 2012, Reuters reported that data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection showed waste from Pennsylvania had gone to facilities in Elizabeth, South Kearny, and Carteret.[12] The AP later reported the waste was drill cuttings (PA residual waste code 810) and drilling fluid (PA residual waste code 803).[13]

In September 2012 Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned New Jersey treatment plants from accepting fracking wastewater.[14] Again in August 2014, Christie vetoed legislation that would have banned the state from treating or storing fracking waste water and fluids.[15]

DuPont and fracking wastewater

In 2009 and 2010, about 1.4 million gallons of partially treated wastewater collected from hydraulic fracturing wells outside the Delaware River basin were processed and flushed into Delaware waters through the commercial side of DuPont’s wastewater plant in Deepwater, New Jersey, near the foot of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Delaware regulators only learned when contacted by The News Journal in May 2012 that the drilling wastewater passed through DuPont’s plant for treatment, exiting from a discharge pipe under the river on Delaware’s side of the state line.

In response, DuPont official Rick Straitman said that Deepwater received gas well wastewater for treatment only after it was mixed with other, partially treated liquid wastes shipped in by a hazardous-materials handler north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Straitman said DuPont “has made no business decisions” about future treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewater.[16]

Proposed projects

Offshore LNG facility

As of 2013 Liberty Natural Gas LLC is asking the federal government for permission to build a facility off the coast of New Jersey - Port Ambrose - where ships carrying liquefied natural gas would dock, vaporize the gas, and transport it through underwater pipes to New York. If approved, Port Ambrose would accept about 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Opponents say its approval could lead to fracking in New York, as well as the potential for spills and explosions.[17]

Pipeline

In March 2012, a proposed $850 million natural gas pipeline through New York and New Jersey won the endorsement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which found that any environmental effects from the pipeline could be reduced to “less than significant” levels. The project now awaits a vote by the five-member commission.

The project is planned by Spectra Energy of Houston, and consists of 15 miles of new pipeline that would run from Staten Island through Bayonne, N.J., and Jersey City to the West Village in Manhattan, where it would connect to Consolidated Edison’s distribution system beneath West Street. It would lie 200 feet under both industrial lands and highly populated areas, including homes, and cross more than 30 bodies of water, including the Hudson River. The project also involves replacing another five miles of existing pipeline between Staten Island and Linden, N.J., and installing associated equipment and facilities to be built in both states and Connecticut.

Opponents on both sides of the Hudson have cited safety concerns, including the possibility of accidental explosions in the densely populated path of the pipeline, and the increase of unconventional drilling in the area that the project could bring.[18]

Bayonne city officials agreed to the pipeline after Spectra altered the conduit's route to avoid some residential neighborhoods. In June 2012, Jersey City - among the areas through which the pipeline is slated to run - published a scathing rebuttal to FERC's approval of the project, saying the agency harbors corporate biases and ignored public safety concerns. Jersey City officials said the city would continue to "litigate this as long as we can." Work in Bayonne on the pipeline began in July 2012, and Spectra said the entire 20-mile pipeline would be finished by November 2013.[19]

Legislative issues and regulations

Fracking

The state Legislature passed bills in 2011 and 2012 calling for a ban on fracking, citing unknown environmental and health effects. Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed the 2011 bill, changing the all-out ban to a one-year moratorium.[20] The moratorium expired in January 2013.[21]

Fracking wastewater

Legislation from New Jersey Sen. Robert Gordon (D), paired with a bill from state Rep. Connie Wagner (D), would ban the shipping of fracking wastewater to New Jersey and treatment of the fluid in the state.[22] The New Jersey Assembly approved Wagner's bill (A575) on June 21, 2012, by a veto-proof majority of 56-19,[23] and the Senate approved Gordon's bill 30-5 on June 21, 2012. Governor Christie has 45 days to consider the legislation before a decision is required.[24] The governor vetoed the bill in September 2012, saying such a ban is premature since the EPA is studying fracking and is not expected to issue any guidance before 2014.[25]

Again in August 2014, Christie vetoed legislation that would have banned the state from treating or storing fracking waste water and fluids.[15]

City bans

On Sep 17, 2013, Highland Park Borough Council passed an ordinance to explicitly ban fracking, becoming the first city in the New Jersey to do so. Other towns in New Jersey have passed resolutions opposing hydraulic fracturing symbolically, but according to figures in the environmental movement and the energy industry, Highland Park's ordinance is the first to have the force of law.[26]

Resources

References

  1. Brian Amaral, "Highland Park becomes first town in N.J. to ban fracking," NJ.com, September 18, 2013.
  2. Matt Friedman, "N.J. Senate panel approves bill to ban fracking," nj.com, Feb. 9, 2012.
  3. "N.J. panel OKs fracking waste bill," Reuters, June 15, 2012.
  4. Mireya Navarro, "Regulatory Staff Endorses Gas Pipeline for New York City and New Jersey," NY Times, March 17, 2012.
  5. Matt Friedman, "N.J. Senate panel approves bill to ban fracking," nj.com, Feb. 9, 2012.
  6. Ellen M. Gilmer, "Fracking moratorium expires," E&E, January 18, 2013.
  7. "Coalition wants to keep frack waste out of state," E&E, May 17, 2012.
  8. "N.J. panel OKs fracking waste bill," Reuters, June 15, 2012.
  9. Ellen M. Gilmer, "Fracking moratorium expires," E&E, January 18, 2013.
  10. "Coalition wants to keep frack waste out of state," E&E, May 17, 2012.
  11. "Coalition wants to keep frack waste out of state," E&E, May 17, 2012.
  12. "N.J. panel OKs fracking waste bill," Reuters, June 15, 2012.
  13. Associated Press, "Clarification: Gas Drilling story," northjersey.com, July 5, 2012
  14. Ellen M. Gilmer, "Fracking moratorium expires," E&E, January 18, 2013.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Christie vetoes bill banning fracking waste" Asbury Park Press, August 8, 2014.
  16. Jeff Montgomery, "Debate seeps into Delaware: Fracking discovery stirs concern," The News Journal, May 20, 2012.
  17. Will James, "Plan for Offshore Gas Facility Spurs Fracking Debate," Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2013.
  18. Mireya Navarro, "Regulatory Staff Endorses Gas Pipeline for New York City and New Jersey," NY Times, March 17, 2012.
  19. Rafal Rogoza, "Controversial natural-gas pipeline project breaks ground in Bayonne," The Jersey Journal, July 26, 2012.
  20. Matt Friedman, "N.J. Senate panel approves bill to ban fracking," nj.com, Feb. 9, 2012.
  21. Ellen M. Gilmer, "Fracking moratorium expires," E&E, January 18, 2013.
  22. Ellen M. Gilmer, "Enviros push for ban on fracking waste disposal," E&E, June 6, 2012.
  23. "Assembly Approves Bill Protecting NJ from Contaminated Fracking Wastewater," New Jersey News, June 22, 2012.
  24. "NJ Legislature Bans Fracking Waste," Environment America, June 25, 2012.
  25. "Christie vetoes fracking wastewater ban," AP, Sep. 21, 2012.
  26. Brian Amaral, "Highland Park becomes first town in N.J. to ban fracking," NJ.com, September 18, 2013.

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