Christie Considers First-in-Nation Ban on 'Fracking'

 
Environmentalists are watching New Jersey to see if Governor Chris Christie signs or vetoes legislation that would ban hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the natural gas drilling technique that has sparked nationwide controversy amid claims that it may lead to poisoned drinking water.

The Asbury Park Press reports that legislation imposing the first permanent state ban on fracking has reached Christie's desk , with at least 24 environmental advocacy groups urging the governor to sign it. But it is far from certain that Christie, a Republican, will approve the Democratic-backed measure, since he has made the development of natural gas a major part of his energy policy and argues that the fuel can reduce dependence on costly foreign oil.

Christie's decision is being watched closely because New Jersey is near the Marcellus Shale, which, according to economists and the energy industry, is one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. Fracking, the most common way to extract natural gas from the Marcellus reserves, has faced scrutiny amid claims that toxic chemicals from the process could seep into aquifers and taint private water supplies . The scrutiny has grown more intense as the practice has moved eastward, from Colorado, Wyoming and other western states to more heavily populated ones in the Northeast.

New Jersey's neighbors, Pennsylvania and New York, sit directly atop the Marcellus Shale but have taken sharply different approaches toward fracking. While Pennsylvania has sped forward and has thousands of operational gas wells that rely on the procedure, New York has a temporary ban on fracking while the state studies its effects. 
 
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