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.”
“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.