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January 31, 2019

N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy calls for full fracking ban in Delaware River Basin

Democrats new rules would take a 2017 proposal one step further

Environment Fracking
Carroll - The Delaware River` Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Delaware River near Northeast Philadelphia.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Wednesday for a full fracking ban in the Delaware River Basin

Murphy, chair of the Delaware River Basin Commission, said he would like to “provide the fullest protection to the Delaware River watershed and the 13.3 million people who rely upon it for pure drinking water.”

In order for a full ban on fracking in the River Basin to be possible, a majority of the five DRBC members — which includes Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania; Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York; and Gov. John Carney of Delaware, along with Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Millhorn of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — need to support the full ban.

Murphy said in a letter to the DRBC on Wednesday that the rules currently proposed, which were proposed in September of 2017, would still allow fracking wastewater to be imported into the River Basin for treatment.

Murphy’s rules would include fracking wastewater in the ban, to eliminate “any associated risks with the practice.”

Kim Ong, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called Murphy's stance "courageous" and will now "look to the other governors represented on the Delaware River Basin Commission to follow New Jersey’s lead."

As for the Pennsylvania governor, in the past Wolf's staffers have championed his "balanced" approach to regulation.

In 2017, Wolf was “absolutely” supportive of the proposed rules that would ban fracking in the River Basin without banning wastewater.

On Thursday, Wolf said he would ask lawmakers to approve a severance tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production to finance a multibillion-dollar infrastructure plan. 

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