photo: Bob Jagendorf/CC BY
So New Jersey might not have a ban on fracking after all. Though the state legislature approved a ban on the natural gas extraction process at the end of June, governor Chris Christie has vetoed the bill, sending it back to the legislature with the recommendation that, instead of an outright ban, a one-year moratorium be put in place.Christie said,
The potential environmental concerns with fracking in our state must be studied and weighed carefully against the potential benefits of increasing access to natural gas. I believe a one-year moratorium on fracking in New Jersey while the issue is studied...is the most prudent, responsible and balanced course of action. (Huffington Post)
It's a setback for campaigners no doubt--of which I am one, supporting a ban, I freely admit--but it's important to remember that the ban in New Jersey is largely symbolic in any case. Compared to neighboring Pennsylvania and New York, the fracking potential in the state is considerably less, at least by every map I've examined.
image: USGS via Geology.com
But nevertheless, symbolism is important, and an outright ban would send a powerful message that protecting water supplies against possible contamination from fracking is more important than simply accessing natural gas reserves because fossil fuel companies want to and want to make more money.
The last part of that last line is increasingly called into question. A number of recent analyses have pointed out that the amount of recoverable in the US is lower than first estimated (either 50% lower or 80%) and that a good number of wells may never be profitable.