Governor Chris Christie Stands Up for Sound Policymaking By Issuing One-Year Moratorium on Fracking

Issues Conditional Veto Changes to Institute a One-Year Moratorium on Fracking While State and Federal Agencies Review Issue Comprehensively

Trenton, NJ – Emphasizing his firm commitment to protecting New Jersey’s environment and future economic growth, Governor Christie today issued a conditional veto of S-2576, recommending changes to the legislation that appropriately balance his commitment to protecting New Jersey’s environment and drinking water and encouraging cleaner energy with the need for proper study of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in New Jersey. As currently written, S-2576 would permanently prohibit fracking in New Jersey, a drilling technique used for the exploration or production of natural gas, even as concurrent studies on the practice are underway by the federal government and no known natural gas deposits necessitating use of the fracking process have been proposed for development in New Jersey.

In conditionally vetoing the legislation, Governor Christie emphasized that he is committed to protecting New Jersey’s environment and drinking water sources, but that significant facts and studies on the issue are still outstanding with the federal U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. The Governor also indicated that the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has not yet fully evaluated the issue of fracking in New Jersey, leaving an incomplete public record on which to base a complete, permanent statutory ban.

“I share many of the concerns expressed by the legislators that sponsored this bill and the environmental advocates seeking a permanent moratorium on fracking. We must ensure that our environment is protected and our drinking water is safe,” said Governor Christie. “I am placing a one-year moratorium on fracking so that the DEP can further evaluate the potential environmental impacts of this practice in New Jersey as well as evaluate the findings of still outstanding and ongoing federal studies.”

Significantly, S-2576 was pushed through the legislature at the very same time that two federal agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Department of Energy (USDOE) – were studying the environmental impact of fracking. While the USDOE issued preliminary recommendations over the past two weeks outlining immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of shale gas development, including the development of best practices, a final report by the USDOE is not expected until November 2011 and the preliminary findings of USEPA’s study are not expected to be released until 2012.

“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. The decision on whether to ban fracking outright or regulate it for environmental protection must be developed on the basis of sound policy and legitimate science,” continued the Governor. “Therefore, while I share many of the concerns expressed by those who support this legislation, I believe that a one-year moratorium on fracking in New Jersey while the issue is studied by the USDOE, USEPA, and NJDEP is the most prudent, responsible, and balanced course of action.”

As a cleaner and more cost-effective alternative to coal or oil, natural gas must play a significant role in New Jersey’s energy future. Governor Christie’s draft Energy Master Plan encourages the development of in-state, natural gas-fired electrical power not only to reduce New Jerseyans’ energy costs, but also to protect our environment by eliminating the need for power from coal states and by accelerating the decommissioning of older, dirtier, and less efficient coal and oil-fired electrical generation plants in New Jersey. Natural gas is a much cleaner form of energy than coal or oil, emitting much less sulfur dioxide, fine particulates, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and greenhouse gases than those energy sources.

S-2576 was sponsored by Senators Robert M. Gordon (D-Bergen), Linda R. Greenstein (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Morris, Somerset) and Assemblymembers Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. (D-Hudson).

Governor Christie’s Continued Commitment to Renewable Energy

“The future for New Jersey is in green energy and already we’ve put in place policies to broaden our access to renewable sources of energy, cleaner natural gas generation and ending our reliance on coal generation.”
– Governor Chris Christie, 5/26/11

The Christie Administration has a proven record of commitment to secure the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy in our state. The wind power movement is providing New Jersey with a unique opportunity to advance green energy as industry. New Jersey is leveraging the state's tremendous resources with innovative technologies, enabling our state to increase its use of renewable energy sources while advancing an industry that will create new jobs.

New Jersey Renewable Energy By the Numbers

  • New Jersey has 10,086 solar energy array projects installed across the state providing over 380 MW of installed capacity.
  • In June 2011, 520 solar projects were installed totaling over 40 MW of installed capacity.
  • For the first quarter of 2011, New Jersey installed 42 MW of solar, representing 49% growth over first quarter 2010.
  • According to the Department of Energy, New Jersey has the 7th highest Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard in the nation at 22.5%.

Wind Achievements:

  • Accelerated development of offshore wind projects through close coordination with the federal government to speed implementation of 1,000 MW of wind turbines;
  • Conducted a Board of Public Utilities application process for prospective developers of offshore wind projects to be located in New Jersey waters;
  • Joined with the federal government and fellow East Coast states to establish the Offshore Wind Consortium to promote commercial wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf of the East Coast;
  • Provided "areas of interest" to the US Department of the Interior, enabling the subsequent federal "Call for Nominations" for wind project leases off the Jersey coast, which garnered 11 project proposals representing a combined 12,500 megawatts of green energy capacity;
  • Signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act to provide financial assistance and tax credits to businesses that construct manufacturing, assembly and water access facilities that support offshore wind projects;
  • Completed a first-of-its-kind, two-year baseline study that identifies environmentally optimal sites for offshore wind turbines.

Moving forward on the Governor’s commitment to develop renewable sources of energy that protect the environment, promote economic development and create jobs, the Christie Administration has made New Jersey one of the largest and fastest-growing solar energy markets in the United States.

Solar Achievements:

  • In June 2011, New Jersey set new monthly records for installed capacity and number of installations:
    • 520 solar projects installed, totaling over 40 MW of installed capacity.
  • New Jersey has 10,086 solar energy projects installed across the state providing over 380 MW of installed capacity;
  • New Jersey has one of the nation’s most robust and mature Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) markets, which along with the best availability for long-term SREC contracts makes project finance much easier to attain;
  • For the first quarter of 2011, New Jersey installed 42 MW of solar, representing 49% growth over first quarter 2010;
  • The state has primarily become a market for non-residential projects over 100 kW;
  • New Jersey is home to the largest rooftop solar array in the country, Gloucester Marine Terminal, at just over 9MW, 1 million square feet of panels, $42 million project, which powers 80% of the ports 2 refrigeration and freezer warehouse;
  • New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) has begun construction on a project to transform a closed Commission landfill into a productive solar farm that will generate up to 3 megawatts of renewable, cost-efficient electricity:
    • The solar installation project at the 1A Landfill in Kearny is a joint effort between the NJMC, SunDurance Energy and Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G);
    • With the NJMC project, the grid-connected solar installation will feature 12,506 solar panels mounted on 13 acres atop the 35-acre landfill;
    • In June, the NJMC leased the 13 acres to SunDurance Energy, which will build the solar array;
    • PSE&G will purchase the solar farm just prior to completion and take over the lease from SunDurance. The utility will own, operate and maintain the facility as part of its Solar 4 All™ program;
    • The solar farm is expected to be placed in service during the fourth quarter of 2011;
    • Installation of solar panels is expected to begin later this summer;
    • In addition to its solar landfill project, this year, the NJMC will construct a solar canopy over its administration building parking lot. The canopy will generate approximately 20 percent of the electricity needs of the NJMC’s headquarters.

Governor Christie put forward a revised Energy Master Plan that maintains New Jersey’s renewable energy portfolio target at an aggressive, achievable level of 22.5% by 2021.

  • According to the Department of Energy, New Jersey has the 7th highest Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard in the nation at 22.5%;
  • Nationally, 14 states maintain no renewable energy standard whatsoever;
  • Governor Christies draft 2011 Energy Master Plan commits to no new coal-fired plants in New Jersey, ensuring that additional generation capacity comes from cleaner sources.

Beyond Green Energy, the Christie Administration Has Made a Strong Commitment to Protecting New Jersey's Environment:

  • Enacted a Fiscal Year 2011 Budget that kept all parks, historic sites and wildlife operations running;
  • Restored beach replenishment funding to its full level;
  • Continued to advocate--both publicly and in the courts--a strong position against the dredging project to deepen the Delaware River;
  • Stated clear opposition to off-shore drilling in New Jersey, as well as drilling off the coast of other states that could negatively impact New Jersey's waters and beaches, such as Delaware and Virginia;
  • Maintained opposition to liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities off of New Jersey's coastline, including the veto of a proposed deepwater operation 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park, preventing construction and operation of an offshore port to receive foreign vessels transporting liquid natural gas (LNG) to the U.S. for regasification;
  • Signed legislation exempting solar panels from certain land use restrictions and identifying solar energy developments as an important land use that will protect the environment;
  • Signed into law three bills to improve the health of Barnegat Bay as components of a comprehensive 10-point Barnegat Bay Restoration plan for the long-term restoration of this 660-square mile ecological gem and improvement of water quality statewide, including establishing the strictest-in-the-nation standards for fertilizer content and application;
  • Signed an Executive Order that targets air pollution caused by diesel engines used on major transportation construction projects in New Jersey, creating a diesel emission retrofit Pilot Program for construction equipment with the ultimate goal of improving air quality for those living near urban construction sites;
  • Signed legislation to appropriate $821 million in no-cost and low-cost loans for crucial clean water and sewer infrastructure projects across the state. The financing will make available approximately $549 million for clean water project loans and $272 million for drinking water project loans, with the federal government picking up at least half of the cost;
  • Successfully petitioned the federal government to take steps to force the owners of a coal-powered Pennsylvania power plant to dramatically reduce harmful air emissions that are causing an even greater public health concern in North Jersey than originally known;
  • Currently in federal court to force three other coal-fired power plants in western Pennsylvania to clean up emissions of pollutants that cause acid rain and degrade air quality in downwind states, including New Jersey;
  • Called on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to help reduce harmful air emissions and take approximately 1,000 trucks per day off New Jersey's roads by building a new barge-to-rail facility at Greenville Yards in Jersey City;
  • Adopted rules requiring significant reductions in sulfur content for home heating oil and other types of fuel oil used in the state to improve air quality and protect public health in New Jersey;
  • Have begun aggressively implementing the recommendations of the 15-point plan developed by the Passaic River Basin Flood Advisory Commission, established by Executive Order to mitigate chronic flooding problems in the basin;
  • Signed legislation creating a free State saltwater fishing registry in New Jersey, allowing New Jersey anglers to avoid a $15 federal saltwater registration fee;
  • Continued to aggressively pursue litigation against the parties responsible for contaminating the lower Passaic River with dioxin;
  • Created Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Board to oversee effective, faster and more efficient cleanups of thousands of contaminated sites in New Jersey to return them to beneficial reuse.
Governor Christie Conditionally Vetoes S-2576
Press Contact:
Michael Drewniak
Kevin Roberts

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