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New Jersey legislature passes ban on shale gas 'fracking'

The New Jersey Legislature [official website] Tuesday passed [materials] a bill [S 2576] to completely ban hydraulic fracturing [EPA backgrounder], or "fracking," a controversial technique used to release natural shale gas. The Senate passed the bill 33-1 and then it passed the Assembly later in the day 58-11 with 8 abstentions. The bill now goes to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) [official website] to sign or veto it. If Christie signs the bill into law, it will make New Jersey the first state to impose a complete statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing. He has not said yet whether he plans to sign. Still, the bill is largely symbolic since experts say New Jersey only sits over a small portion [WSJ report] of shale gas, unlike its neighbors New York and Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground to create fractures in rocks which allows trapped gas and oil to come to surface. Environmental and health concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing include contamination of ground water, migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface and the potential mishandling of waste.

Fracking, has become a controversial issue as it is implemented in the US and around the world. Earlier this month, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman [official profile] filed a lawsuit against the US government to compel several federal agencies to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) [EPA materials] by investigating the environmental impact of fracking and making the findings available to the public prior to adopting a proposal by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) [advocacy website] authorizing natural gas development in the region. In May, France's lower house, the National Assembly [official website, in French], approved a bill [TA Bill No. 658, materials, in French; JURIST report] to prohibit the drilling of gas and oil through hydraulic fracturing and to repeal hydraulic fracturing licenses granted to companies.

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