August 25, 2011 / 7:56 PM / 7 years ago

New Jersey issues one-year moratorium on fracking

HOUSTON (Reuters) - New Jersey on Thursday issued a one-year ban on hydraulic fracturing, citing the need for more study of the technology used to produce oil and gas from shale formations.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would have permanently banned the practice, which critics say can pollute drinking water.

“I am placing a one-year moratorium on fracking so that the (Department of Environmental Protection) 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.”

The practice of hydraulic fracturing is drawing more scrutiny from state and federal regulators as well as more opposition from the public.

There are no known natural gas deposits in New Jersey proposed for development that would require hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the state said.

Oil and gas companies blast water, sand and chemicals at very high pressures into natural gas wells drilled in hard rock like shale. The technology causes fissures that allows oil and gas to escape the rock.

“While the Marcellus Shale formation does not underlie enough of New Jersey to make it economical to produce, and no natural gas producers are actively seeking to explore for natural gas in the Garden State, this policy sends the wrong message to an entire nation,” said Kathryn Klaber, executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, which represents a number of energy companies involved in natural gas production.

The Marcellus Shale in the U.S. Northeast contains vast amounts of natural gas and is being actively drilled by companies including Chesapeake Energy Corp and Range Resources.

Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; editing by Jim Marshall

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