The New Jersey state legislature, in what many considered to be a symbolic political gesture, voted yesterday to ban all hydraulic fracturing in the state. NJ Gov. Chris Christie has publicly stated support for natural gas energy, but he has not said whether or not he will sign the fracking ban into law. If he does, it would be the first statewide ban of hydraulic fracturing in the nation.
Is the proposed ban just political theater? Or is there a chance drilling for natural gas could happen in NJ?
Terry Engelder, a geosciences professor at Penn State University, said the only known natural gas under New Jersey is in the northwestern corner of the state, on the edge of the Marcellus Shale.
Besides the Marcellus Shale, Engelder said, there’s a chance that there’s some natural gas underground near the structure known as the Newark Basin, which stretches from areas of New York just northwest of New York City to parts of eastern Pennsylvania.*
That small area in the northwestern corner of NJ is called the Utica Shale—located below the Marcellus Shale—and the Utica has gotten a lot of interest from drillers lately. So it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that drillers would be interested in sinking a few wells in NJ, wells that would be need to be fracked. It will be interesting to see what Gov. Christie does.
*Courier-Post (Jun 29, 2011) – In vote seen as symbolic, N.J weighs fracking ban