In some states, such as New Mexico and Colorado, counties can exercise land use controls – something only municipalities do in most states, like Texas, New York and Pennsylvania. Evidently, New Jersey counties can prohibit certain hazardous land use practices – like fracking. In New York, counties have limited powers of protection – such as prohibiting spreading frack waste on county roads.
Middlesex First County in NJ to Ban Fracking
Unanimous freeholder vote follows ordinances in Highland Park, New Brunswick
Written by Bob Makin
NEW BRUNSWICK — Middlesex County Freeholders unanimously voted on Thursday to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as a pre-emptive measure to protect residents from the method of natural gas drilling that critics have deemed dangerous.
The county is the first in the state to ban fracking. Shortly after the ban was passed, Freeholder Charles Tomaro announced in a news release that copies of the resolution would be sent to all 20 counties in New Jersey encouraging them to also take action.
The vote comes two weeks after Food & Water Watch, along with several other advocacy groups, delivered a letter with signatures from almost 20 state and local organizations urging the Freeholders to ban fracking in the county. The measure follows ordinances banning fracking passed on Sept. 17 in Highland Park and Oct. 2 in New Brunswick, as well as the veto by Gov. Chris Christie of a statewide ban.
“We applaud Food & Water Watch for bringing the need for a ban on fracking to our attention,” said Tomaro in a news release. “Gov. Christie has vetoed legislation that would ban fracking in New Jersey, failing to protect our drinking water for this dangerous practice. We are excited to lead the state on this measure and call on other counties to stand up where Christie has chosen to put his political interests above the health and well being of his constituents.”
Jim Walsh, regional director of Food & Water Watch, said he was not surprised that county freeholders would take what he described as a “prudent action to ban a dangerous, dirty practice like fracking.
“After all, if Gov. Christie isn’t going to protect state residents, someone has to,” he said. “More counties are sure to follow Middlesex’s lead.”
Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club, said fracking is a threat to the state’s open spaces and waters.
The Freeholders’ action is important because Middlesex County depends on the Delaware River for a portion of its drinking water supply, Tittel said.
Staff Writer Bob Makin: 732-565-7319;firstname.lastname@example.org