Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 37
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
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Borough Council Supports Resolution To Ban “Fracking” in All of New Jersey

Anne Levin

Borough Council’s vote last Tuesday, September 6, supporting a resolution to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in New Jersey was not without discussion. The Princeton Environmental Commission proposed the measure at the Council’s meeting.

Fracking, feared for its potential to contaminate drinking water, is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand, and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and forces open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. Pennsylvania inspectors have found that fluid spills have contaminated some waterways.

Councilman David Goldfarb was the only member who voted against the measure, not because he is in favor of fracking, but because of concerns that it was not sufficiently relevant to Princeton to take precedence over other matters.

“Over the years, there have been many people who have wanted us to act on issues that go beyond Princeton Borough,” Mr. Goldfarb said this week. “We have enough to keep us busy. This issue doesn’t affect the Borough directly except in the most tangential way. I can certainly understand the concerns. But this is the kind of feel-good resolution that we shouldn’t have considered in the first place, and that really doesn’t merit being passed because it draws conclusions that weren’t presented or supported.”

According to Matt Wasserman, who is chair of the Environmental Commission, the issue is about the “lack of transparency.” “Fracking companies aren’t required by law to disclose what’s in their solutions,” he said this week. “Energy policies don’t have governance. My analogy is Wall Street these last couple of years. For me, it’s about questions. I could never come out and say fracking causes cancer or creates a water line you could light with a torch. It’s that no one is giving us firm answers. I’m going to err on the side of caution. And if an opportunity came up where we needed to let our lawmakers know about it, it is something folks here should be concerned about.”

Last month, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned fracking in New Jersey, instead proposing a one-year moratorium. Environmentalists had hoped New Jersey would become the first state to permanently ban the technique. Sponsors of the bill said that fracking represents the greatest threat to our drinking water in generations. Federal studies are ongoing.

“I think it does affect the Borough,” said councilwoman Jenny Crumiller this week. “It affects our drinking water. It mostly affects the Delaware River, and we get some of our water from there. It affects drinking water everywhere. Nobody wants contaminated water.”

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