New Jersey Governor's Decision on Fracking Receives Mixed Response

Industry groups applaud veto on ban, but Marcellus Shale Coalition questions moratorium.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decision to veto a bill that would permanently ban hydraulic fracturing in the Garden State was seen as a victory for some industry groups with a stake in natural-gas development. But other organizations criticized Christie's decision Aug. 25 to place a one-year moratorium on the process used to extract natural gas from shale rock.

The one-year ban will give the state time to evaluate final Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency reports that are due over the next year, Christie said.

The New Jersey Petroleum Council, a division of the American Petroleum Institute, issued a statement saying it was encouraged by the decision.

"Stringent industry standards and proper regulations can ensure the safety and security of the environment and we are committed to working with the New Jersey Department of Environmental protection during its analysis," said the Council, which represents oil and gas companies in the state. "A balanced approach to the development of our domestic resources can provide remarkable opportunity for New Jersey and our nation's energy security."

An organization representing New Jersey's chemical industry also commended the governor's decision.

"Governor Christie recognizes that New Jersey benefits enormously from natural gas production," said Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey. . . ."Without today's decision, New Jersey would have become the first state with a permanent hydraulic fracturing ban. That would be no way to encourage natural gas production the nation so desperately needs."

But the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an association of natural gas producers located in the Marcellus region, contends the yearlong ban could negatively impact future shale-gas production.

"Our industry is deeply disappointed by Gov. Christie's decision. While the Marcellus Shale formation does not underlie enough of New Jersey to make it economical to produce, and no natural gas producers are actively seeking to explore for natural gas in the Garden State, this policy sends the wrong message to an entire nation benefitting from the responsible production of clean-burning, American natural gas," said Kathryn Klaber, Marcellus Shale president and executive director, in a prepared statement. "Further, the governor's decision runs contrary to his understandable and laudable promotion of the expanded use of natural gas in his state's energy mix."

The Coalition declined to comment beyond the prepared statement.

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