Déjà vu: Gov. Christie vetoes ban on taking out of state tracking waste

    Chris Christie

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie leaves the Capitol in Washington in this Nov. 17, 2014 file photo (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has dashed the hopes of environmentalists by vetoing legislation that would have barred disposing of hydraulic fracturing waste in the state.

    Christie said that he vetoed the bill, as well as a similar one in 2012, because it would have violated the U.S. Constitution’s dormant commerce clause. Since hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is not currently being used to extract natural gas in New Jersey, Christie argued in his veto message that a ban would only affect other states and thus would create an “unconstitutional restraint on interstate commerce.”

    “The United States Constitution has not been amended since I vetoed the Legislature’s last attempt at a fracking waste ban in 2012,” said Christie. “Likewise, Dormant Commerce Clause jurisprudence has not changed in a way that would cause me to sign a bill that I previously rejected on constitutional grounds.”

    Environmentalists strongly disagree with Christie’s claim that the bill is unconstitutional, pointing to a 2012 opinion by the state’s Office of Legislative Services that a ban on fracking waste “does not violate the commerce clause.”

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    “New Jersey has had a history of banning waste from out of state. Philadelphia and New York City dumped garbage off our coast. We banned that in state waters. That was upheld as constitutional,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club’s New Jersey chapter. “There’s plenty of lawyers and evidence and our own Office of Legislative Affairs that says it is constitutional.”

    The Delaware Riverkeeper Network says fracking waste has been sent to at least four facilities throughout New Jersey, putting the state’s water at risk.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal