NJ Gov Vetoes Permanent Fracking Ban, Proposes 1-Yr Ban

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 25, 2011

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday issued a conditional veto of legislation imposing a permanent ban on a controversial natural gas drilling method, instead offering a counter-proposal for a one-year ban on the practice.

In a statement, Christie cited an "incomplete public record" on the fallout from the drilling method, known as fracking.

"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 in New Jersey," Christie said.

The process involves the pumping of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to release natural gas trapped in tight rock formations called shales. One such formation, the Marcellus Shale, spans several northeastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Detractors claim fracking can lead to contamination of water deposits, and the practice has met stiff resistance from state legislatures in New York and New Jersey.

Christie's moratorium proposal, however, is unlikely to alter the plans of many oil drillers, most of which are currently focused on Pennsylvania and are targeting some parts of the Marcellus in New York state. Only a relatively small fraction of the Marcellus formation is located in Jersey.

The controversy, however, underscores how oil and gas drilling in unconventional reservoirs remains a novel--and some say dangerous--phenomenon in the Northeastern U.S. Drillers are eager to tap natural gas reserves there because of the proximity to New York City and other large markets for the commodity.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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