Will the drilling moratorium be lifted for the Delaware River Watershed?

Governor Chris Christie could be the deciding vote.

On November 21, the Delaware River Basin Commission will meet in Trenton to vote on proposed natural gas regulations that, if approved, would lift the moratorium. Hundreds of people are expected to show up at the meeting, in protest of the proposed regulations. Protesters insist the DRBC conduct a comprehensive environmental study and environmental impact analysis before taking a vote.

Environmentalists claim a 'yes' vote from Christie will translate to harmful effects on New Jersey's public and its drinking water. They fear it would lead to the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is a process used to extract substances like natural gas from underwater "gas wells".

According to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the practice of fracking uses an average 4.5 million gallons of water to frack a well, and there could be more than 50,000 gas wells in the Delaware River Watershed alone.

"There are more than 600 chemicals in fracking fluid that are injected into the ground, and many of them are toxic," says Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "Over 200 of the chemicals have been identified as either toxic or carcinogenic."

Environmentalists say there is no economically-feasible way to treat such "highly-contaminated wastewater".

Environmentalists also take issue with the potential transportation of fracked gas from other parts of the country. Companies are requesting new and expanded pipeline projects across New Jersey's public lands, environmentally-sensitive areas and residential communities. The proposed lines would increase the capacity of New Jersey's pipeline system by 25%. Environmentalists say Governor Christie has not opposed any of the proposed gas pipeline expansion projects.

The DRBC is comprised of five voting members - the Governors of the four states that drain to the Delaware River (NJ, NY, PA, DE), and a federal representative (the Army Corps of Engineers). It is believed that Pennsylvania and the federal representative will vote to approve the moratorium lift, while New York and Delaware will not. If the predictions are correct, the fate of the Delaware River could be in the hands of New Jersey's Governor.

Tittel says, "We need Governor Christie to stand up for New Jersey and stop the DRBC rules from going forward. We can either ship our money to gas drillers in Pennsylvania or keep our money in New Jersey to create green jobs and clean energy."