July 18, 2019 | 74° F

New Brunswick city council bans fracking

Photo by Noah Whittenburg |

New Brunswick residents show support for a fracking ban at the city council meeting. The city is the second in the state to pass a fracking ban, after Highland Park, N.J.

Residents of New Brunswick cheered as New Brunswick became the second New Jersey city, after Highland Park, to ban fracking on Oct. 2.

If fracking was to be allowed in New Brunswick, the gas and oil industry could make a possible $12 billion, said Lauren Petrie, an organizer for the Food and Water Watch. The city sits atop 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a process in which tons of chemical-filled water is pumped into the earth as a way to extract natural gas. This releases hundreds of toxic chemicals, Petrie said.

Chemicals from fracking should be nowhere near drinking water, Petrie said.

Fracking has been linked to poisoned drinking water, environmental degradation, climate change and human health impacts, according to a statement from Highland Park Councilwoman Susan Welkovitz.

Highland Park, the first municipality in New Jersey to ban fracking, showed tremendous leadership in passing the ban, said Jim Walsh, eastern region director for the Food and Water Watch.

Walsh said Gov. Chris Christie refused to sign a ban on fracking after caving to pressure from the oil and gas industry, and refused to take action to protect local drinking water.

Walsh found citizens of New Brunswick were receptive to the fracking ban before it was passed, and said while petitioning in the city, he did not find a single participant who thought that drilling in New Brunswick was a good idea.

“The reality is that New Jersey would be off limits to fracking and fracking waste dumping right now, had Christie not stood in the way of those efforts,” he said.

By Sabrina Szteinbaum

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