Governor Phil Murphy

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Governor Murphy Announces Support for Full Fracking Ban in Delaware River Basin


Governor Phil Murphy announced his support for a full fracking ban in the Delaware River Basin and issued a letter to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) expressing his position that proposed rules should be amended to ban all fracking activity, including the import, treatment, and discharge of fracking wastewater. In addition to Governor Murphy, members of the DRBC include Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York; Governor John Carney of Delaware; Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania; and Major General Jeffrey Millhorn of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, North Atlantic Division.

“As DRBC Chair, I would like to seize this opportunity and provide the fullest protection to the Delaware River watershed and the 13.3 million people who rely upon it for pure drinking water,” Governor Murphy wrote. “To achieve this, I believe the proposed rules should be amended to include a ban of all fracking-related activities.”

In the letter, Governor Murphy stressed his position on the DRBC’s draft rule proposal on high volume hydraulic fracturing, which is pending before the Commission. Recognizing the Commission’s underlying concerns with fracking and the thousands of comments to DRBC on this issue, Governor Murphy emphasized the importance of banning all activities associated with fracking, including the import, treatment, and discharge of fracking wastewater in the Basin, thereby eliminating any associated risks with this practice. In addition to naturally occurring hazardous substances released during the fracking phase, fracking wastewater can contain a wide suite of chemicals that are injected as part of the process.

“Fracking poses risks to the Delaware River Basin that New Jersey cannot accept,” said Governor Murphy. “The chemicals present in fracking wastewater are still unknown and we must take caution to protect the recreational, ecological, and water resources for the millions of residents and businesses who rely on a clean Delaware River Basin. It is our responsibility to protect public health and safeguard our natural resources for future generations.”

“The Delaware River Basin supplies clean drinking water to millions of people. Profit should never outweigh public safety,” Senator Kip Bateman said. “Banning fracking in the basin will send a clear message that New Jersey will mount a full defense against any company that tries to come here and put families in harm’s way. Environmental protection shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We must continue to work together to save the natural resources we rely on now, so our children and grandchildren can have access to them, too.”

“As it now stands, there is a lack of clear data on the toxicity of the 1,400 chemicals found in hydraulic fracturing fluid,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a co-prime sponsor of ACR-208, a resolution to block a proposed rule to permit the storage, treatment, disposal and discharge of wastewater generated from hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin. “Since this information is minimal, we don’t have a definitive answer as to the long-term environmental impact caused by fracking.  I appreciate the Governor taking heed to these real concerns and taking action to protect our waters.”

“Fracking waste could pose risks to the Delaware River Basin,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Jr., a physician and co-prime sponsor of ACR-208, a resolution to block a proposed rule to permit the storage, treatment, disposal and discharge of wastewater generated from hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin. “The chemicals in fracking fluids are not fully known, and a fracking ban in the Delaware Basin is a positive precautionary step that would protect water resources for millions of residents.”

“Governor Murphy doubled down on his commitment to protecting New Jersey, not only for the 13.3 million Americans who depend on the Delaware River for drinking water, but also for New Jersey’s economy that depends on clean, reliable water,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “With an anti-environmentalist Administration at the federal level, and rollbacks of important environmental regulations happening nearly every week, it’s even more important for states to take a stand and fight for our natural resources. In joining with the four states that share the Delaware River, Governor Murphy and his administration are taking a strong stance and proving that he will continue his leadership on protecting this critical resource.”

“The Delaware River watershed is under attack like never before. Gas drillers wait along its borders, eyeing opportunities to start fracking. For the last seven years, our watershed has benefited from a moratorium on drilling and outright restrictions on dumping fracking waste by the Delaware River Basin Commission,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Governor Murphy is taking a stand to protect the Delaware River watershed by telling the DRBC its fracking regulations need to be strengthened to ensure fracking waste, fracking and its activities never despoil the Delaware River watershed. Gov. Christie actively worked to promote fracking along our borders, and we are proud Governor Murphy is telling our neighboring states we need an outright ban on fracking and fracking waste in the watershed. We thank the Governor for standing up for the drinking water source of more than 3 million New Jersey residents.”

"Governor Murphy is taking the lead to protect New Jersey residents, our water supply and the Delaware River by pledging his vote for the Delaware River Basin Commission to ban fracking, including the discharge of wastewater produced by fracking and the withdrawal of the River's water for fueling fracking elsewhere,” said Maya van Rossum, Delaware RiverKeeper. “As the chairman of the DRBC, Governor Murphy is showing true environmental leadership." 

The full letter is available here.